Wildly popular in South America, the sport of futsal hasn’t yet developed the same foothold in North America. But for those familiar with the indoor soccer played on hardwood floors with a smaller, heavier ball they know it as the game that honed the skills of many soccer greats including Brazil’s Ronaldinho.
“The ball runs faster and passes are short,” said Eduard Orellana, who organizes the Barrie league with his wife Rosa Aviles. “It forces players to be more skilful and control the ball.” Orellana plays futsal in Toronto but four years ago realized that there was a place for a league in Barrie. “I played as a kid and still play. So we thought why not a league in Barrie? The game is beautiful,” he said.
Originally it functioned as a community outreach to get people of Latin descent together to play a game they knew and loved. Since then it has morphed into a league that draws players from the entire community and every walk of life. “Originally it was called Barrie Latin Soccer. But we thought that might leave people out. Everyone is welcome and it’s a game we want everyone to learn,” Orellana said.
This is the first year they’re offering leagues for children with ages ranging from kids born in 2006 and older. The men’s league will continue to run with a women’s league added as well. “Playing futsal develops skills better than playing on a turf field,” Orellana said, when discussing the benefits for younger players. “Since the ball runs faster it makes kids think about what they’re going to do. They have to go after the ball and make sure it goes where they want it to.” Futsal is played with five players a side that includes the goalie.
Orellana also considers futsal to be a cleaner game since rules exist to prevent foul play. Much like basketball once a team accumulates five fouls in a half the other team receives a penalty shot for each additional foul. “It’s designed to be cleaner and to develop foot work,” he said. Orellana is in talks with Futsal Canada in hopes of setting up intercity competition for the winners of the adult leagues. It’s all part of his efforts for the league that he hopes will continue to grow in size and skill. “We want people to know more,” Orellana said. “It’s not that well known yet, but it’s starting to pick up steam.”