The most common name used is indoor soccer, but a new league formed, featuring both youth and adult players from Madison, is not indoor soccer. It’s called FUTSAL and more teams are being formed now as the next session of the wintertime league kicks off its Friday nights play in February.
Darrell Schmidt is co-founder and current President of the North Alabama FUTSAL League and has seen the sport simply explode in the last few months with games held at The Launch Pad located on Jordan Lane in Huntsville. The most recent winter session featured four adult teams and two youth teams in the U12-Division. With registration currently available for the newest session, Schmidt hopes for even more interest in the sport that is governed by the Federation International Football Association, which is the international governing body of FUTSAL and other soccer sports.
You may ask what’s the difference between traditional indoor soccer and FUTSAL. Indoor soccer includes play off walls, while FUTSAL uses boundary lines. FUTSAL is a rule based league.
“The sport is all about foot skills and forces you to control the soccer ball,” said Mike Trice of Madison. The 36-year old engineer played FUTSAL for two years while living in Virginia. He made the move to North Alabama a decade ago and is now enjoying the sport he grew to love.
“I played soccer since age four and I’ve even coached youth soccer in the AYSO program and having a local FUTSAL league is great as the game is fast and helps me keep in shape as I’m also a runner,” added Trice, who plays on the current top rated team in the league. His team is called “Brokin-Toe”.
FUTSAL is played in over 100 countries by more than 12 million players. The game is played on a court 60-feet by 110-feet (slightly larger than a basketball court) for adults and even smaller court dimensions for youth players. Play uses a low-bounce ball and does not require dasher boards as usual indoor soccer does.
“I realized no formal indoor league that focuses on FUTSAL was available in this area so Steve Walker and I started the league,” said Schmidt, 60. “I no longer play soccer, but I referee matches and run the league. The timing used is similar to basketball with stoppage whenever necessary. Each team has a 15-member roster and five players for each team are on the court at one time.”
Kelsey Hughes and her fiancée Ted Ryon play as the league is co-ed. The 28-year old Hughes, who works in marketing, played soccer through high school in Lincoln County, Tenn. and club teams and has been part of the soccer community with her help as an AYSO coach. She heard about the FUTSAL play and she and Ryon decided to give it a shot.
“I love it. It’s more entertaining than running alone as it’s a lot of fun,” said Hughes. “Ted and I play on the same team and that gives us more time to spend together.”
Hughes added she thought playing FUTSAL was a great date night as the two are making plans for their April 5th wedding. “I also play women’s soccer and FUTSAL is a good wintertime conditioning for other soccer play. This is a nice change of pace and is a great full body workout.”
Schmidt takes pride in knowing the formation of the North Alabama FUTSAL League was created from a business perspective with a business plan, a marketing analysis, league constitution and formation of a board of directors. “This was not a jock/bar napkin perspective formation,” said Schmidt, who grew up in Decatur and had his first experience at soccer after college when he found adult soccer in his 30’s. “I learned to play the game as my son played and I soon became a referee.”
Registration is now available on-line: www.nafutsal.org. Schmidt is looking at adding more teams and divisions as players find about the fun sport and could move youth play to Ed White Middle School in Huntsville.
In the meantime, Friday nights are full of FUTSAL at The Launch Pad.
“I didn’t play soccer for four years. It was weird. I missed it. I’m glad to have this league as it’s not intimidating as anyone can learn to play,” said Hughes. “This is Ted’s third season of playing soccer. It’s been great for him. It’s been great for us.”
By Bob Labbe
Madison Weekly News