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This isn’t usual soccer.

2011-08-09

Fast? Short? This isn’t usual soccer

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, THE LONDON FREE PRESS

The biggest complain about soccer is the lack of goals.

You can then toss in the complaint about it being too slow.

If you get really picky, there are complaints about the game being too long.

Then there is the annoying habit players have of getting tackled and making a meal out of rolling around and pretending they are on death’s door.

If all that bothers you, even though the sport does entice you to watch it, the solution to all your complaints may be futsal soccer played on hardwood.

Popular especially in South America, it’s soccer played on a gym floor with the speed and movement of basketball.

London has a league, but exposure to the sport is still minimal among soccer fans.

Two local players, though, will take part in what may be the futsal experience of a lifetime for them.

Camilo Gonzalez and Santiago Raigoza have made the Canadian team for the AMF Futsal World Cup in Colombia in March. There are two governing organizations in futsal, the other being FIFA.

“There was a falling-out a while ago and AMF are on their own,” said Carlos Radic, director of sport for AMF and an assistant coach of the Canadian team. “There are some different rules involved and AMF is a lot quicker.”

Futsal is usually played in a 20-by-40-metre gym. There are five players per side.

The major differences in the game are the size of the ball and the play of the goaltenders.

“In AMF, the keeper gets used a lot,” Radic said. “You need a keeper who can stop with his hands, but you can use him as a player because he can come out and play like a player.

“In AMF, that means there is a constant rotation. Some teams like Belarus, change like hockey every two minutes, others change depending on fitness.”

The games are two 20-minute halves. Time stops when the ball goes outside the lines.

A team that commits five fouls in a half gives up a unopposed kick from 12 metres from the net. Five fouls on an individual player and that player is removed from the game.

Gonzalez is well known for his outdoor game in London. The 21-year-old plays for AEK London and FC London.

But he like futsal more than he does the outdoor game.

“I like them both but futsal is more fun,” he said. “It’s more intense. Outdoor is fun but it might get a little boring sometimes. There’s not as many goals, not as exciting.”

Gonzalez is one of those who believes if people watch the game, they’ll love it.

“They would enjoy watching futsal more because soccer is sometimes bland and it’s long,” he said. “This one is only 20 minutes a half. You see a crazy amount of things happening. A lot of people don’t now the sport, they just think two stay up and two stay on defence but the way you are supposed to play the sport, you actually rotate all the time, so if one goes, the other one goes back, so you are always moving.”

Radic is based in Kitchener. The team will take 12 players to Columbia, where they play in a preliminary group with Catalonia, Peru and Uruguay. The group is attempting to raise funds for the March tournament.

Radic says he has participated in both the FIFA-style of futsal and AMF and he prefers AMF.

“Players are constantly moving and you have to be in condition,” he said. “I get a lot of fat, old guys when I have tryouts for teams and because they don’t like to run but you have to run in this game.”

The team going to the World Cup has arranged an exhibition game in London on Feb. 20 with details still to be worked out.

For Gonzalez, though, the trip to Colombia will be more than just futsal.

He left Colombia about 10 years ago. His relatives are “going crazy” about the opportunity.

“I haven’t been back since,” he said. “Not only am I going back playing for Canada but I am going to my home country for the first time. It’s so exciting.”

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca

 
 
   
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