Over and over the years, we hear that to be an outstanding soccer player, you had to have a futsal background. This can and it is true, and we have several examples to show, especially inside the Brazilian soccer history. But, I want to know the reasons!
Going back to the 70’s, we can list a dozen very skilled players, with a long futsal history. Zico and Rivelino maybe the icons of this generation, and a lot of others players kept this tradition until now.
Talking about the reasons, generally we always hear the same ones. Reduced space, more ball touches, quicker thinking and short dribbling. All of that it´s true. But let´s take this discussion to another level.
We can also look at the European style of training. Lots of mini games, reduced spaces drills, adapted rules, always challenging the players to seek different and better solutions to the situations the game presents. We can see something very similar to futsal. Maybe the Europeans “cracked” the Brazilian secret and applying this method in their youth programs?
If we can recreate the futsal scene on our soccer drills, why we need futsal?
Futsal is crucial to build a great soccer player, that very skilled player, with good dribbling, great finishing, with an outstanding relationship with the ball. Futsal also gives a higher understanding of the tactical game, offensive and defensive, with a better read of the passing lines, slow a counter attack when defending and other several tactical aspects. But we have to go further than the small spaces and more touches to the ball.
The main reason to futsal’s success can be summarized in one concept: Speed of play.
The futsal floor and the futsal ball make the game faster, a lot faster than soccer. You can “build” a futsal court into the grass pitch, same size and everything, but without the floor and the ball, this new game will never be fast as futsal. If the game is fast, the players have to do every action in the game, in a faster way. Passing, dribbling, shooting, man marking, everything is faster on a futsal game.
In Brazil, we have some soccer clubs opening their eyes to futsal, integrating the game with the youth soccer program. Of course the country culture makes this process very easy. I´m certain that, 20 years from now, we will see every major soccer club in Brazil, using futsal as a fundamental tool, inside the youth program.
This statement takes the discussion to another level. And about futsal professional players, and the pro level of futsal, will it die because of soccer? Of course not!
In Brazil, we have so many kids and teenagers playing both futsal and soccer, that the sports can embrace everybody. Soccer has an economic advantage over futsal, so it´s a natural path for the better players choosing the grass route.
But with the soccer clubs developing futsal, we´re going to have more people playing futsal. For the future, with more people playing, the level of the game rises. It´s a win-win solution for everybody. A good futsal program, improving the technical part of the game, can produce better players, for soccer or futsal.
Author: Rodrigo Nunes
Youth Soccer Techinical Coordinator at C.R. Flamengo
Co-founder of Institute Thinking Sport