Futsal and Football, the perfect fusion
When I was young I trained about 3-4 hours a week at The football Academy. But I played 3-4 hours every day on the street. So where do you think I learned to play football?
The answer is quite obvious. Unstructured play is arguably one of the best activities children can participate in. Give them space and let them create their own reality, or soccer field, or whatever.
One of the my best thinking process is: Give kids a ball, (and) they’ll figure the rest out.” In an era of organized playdates and parental fear of children skinning their knees, how do we get kids to simply play?
Street soccer is simply picking up a ball, finding some space, and playing. There is no coaching and no parents, just kids creating a love affair with the soccer ball. There are no overzealous coaches screaming what to do at every turn and essentially joysticking their players for 60 minutes. Young players need to learn to play with freedom, flair and creativity, which is what Brazil, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany have successfully done. They’ve created players of such unquestionable skill and IQ that they have largely dominated at producing the best players in the world.
I believe the introduction of futsal could be exactly what World youth soccer needs.
Players like Messi, Xavi, Neymar, investa, Ronaldo, Maradona and Pele were raised on futsal. Cristiano Ronaldo said he felt “free” whenever he played the game.
Futsal have limited space and the less bouncy ball, technical and tactical play becomes crucial. With the spacing, this isn’t about running, its about playing. Players have to play under pressure and manipulate the ball to be successful. This requires spatial awareness, creativity, checking shoulders and making lightning-quick decisions. These are seemingly the qualities of the best players of the current generation of stars.
In the Futsal, the players get up to five times the amount of touches in futsal or small-sided games than they do in 11-a-side. But more importantly, almost all of these touches are under pressure. This makes them critical touches, and the player has to have some tactical application to what they are doing. These are not repeated touches with a parent-paid coach in a park, repeating moves over and over with no pressure. These touches and passes have consequence, but consequence in an environment that is encouraging positive decision-making and creative soccer. Watch the Brazilians play and you see the creativity, craft, and cleverness, all this at the speed of light.
Is it tactically perfect soccer? Are the best decisions being made all the time? No, but that’s not the point. That stuff can be addressed at a different time and place. This is the time for free play with no structure and little adult oversight. This is a place for players to express themselves and, as Cristiano said, be “free”.
In the Futsal way, the art of the 1-v-1 battle it’s decisive. Let’s imagine we have professional footballers to accept defensive numerical equality.
At the same time, we will get footballers with strong offensive skills, who like to challenge and overcome the opponent, creating decisive numerical superiorities in certain field areas.
It’s important to encourage this part of a player’s game, especially at a young age. Not e very player is going to have a knack for creativity, but when you raise them in an environment that suffocates creativity instead of fostering it, you end up with few players capable of individual brilliance.
When you look Futsal, the creative atmosphere, the touches under pressure, the need for quick decision-making and sharp technical skills, they make this sport very vibrating to see.
Let the kids play. Let them be creative. Let them succeed. Let them fail. Let them achieve the creative genius we so desperately need here. Give them a ball and some direction and you might be shocked at what will happen.