Futsal is growing rapidly in the U.S. and the Georgia State Soccer Association is getting on-board with the trend. Last weekend at their Annual General Meeting, the organization announced that it will be offering futsal programming going forward.
Executive Director Greg Griffith said, “It’s going to start this summer. Basically, we’re thinking it’s going to operate much like the Classic and Athena leagues do now. Your club finds a place to play, you get the referees, and we schedule you.”
For those unfamiliar with futsal, it is the international version of indoor soccer. It is played without the walls common in American indoor soccer. It is played on a court surface and the ball is slightly smaller and heavier. FIFA has been organizing a Futsal World Cup since 1989.
Griffith said that he has seen the sport grow in the state of Georgia, “We see a lot of our clubs already playing it. The (U.S. Soccer) Development Academy is required to do it. We saw that there was a demand. We have a lot of people who have an indoor facility, or have been playing futsal in-house and they might be interesting in playing someone else. Hopefully if it goes well, we would offer it in the times where we don’t have an outdoor season.”
The U.S. Development Academy added futsal as a component of its program for its younger age groups in 2014. U.S. youth national team coaches have cited the impact of futsal in improving technical skills, comfort level in tight spaces, and increasing the number of touches players are getting on the ball.
Griffith stressed that this is an opportunity for growth for Georgia Soccer. “We think that this will allow us to grow. There might be some clubs out there in the future that are just futsal only,” he said. “Clubs that have a gym in downtown Atlanta and they don’t have a field or they don’t have enough players to field an outdoor team, they can still play futsal.”
The organization will also increase its offerings for coaching and referee development in futsal and will potentially offer tournaments if demand warrants it. Look for officially sanctioned futsal to kickoff in Georgia in the summer of 2017.