As the outdoor season draws to a close, the indoor season for me heats up. My son's first ever soccer coach is the owner of the Atlanta Futsal League. He often has games that need to be covered and I love to do it.
It would be easy to dismiss Futsal as simply soccer in a gym, but it's not. The pace is dramatically different and the rules take some getting used to. Here are a few of the biggest differences:
- The teams are comprised of 4 outfield players and a goalkeeper. The GK can use their hands within the Penalty Area as you would expect. The main difference that the GK restarts what would be a goal kick by releasing the ball their hands. They they can't touch the ball again by foot or by hand until the opponent touches the ball. If they touch it again, it's an IDK for the other team.
- Kick-ins are used instead of throw-ins and the defending team must be 5 yards back.
- All restarts must happen in 4 seconds or less. If not, then the other team gets and IDFK. This is fantastic for keeping the game moving, but it puts responsibility on the referee to constantly remember to count when the play needs to restart.
- There are no slide tackles due to the hard court. Being tripped and going down on the hard floor makes this a serious issue. Most of the fouls are charges and trips due to the close confines of the court and congested play.
- Substitutions happen at any moment and even when the ball is in play similar to Ice Hockey. The key here is that the player coming off, must have at least one foot off the court at the designated spot in front of the bench before the new player can run on.
- There are timeouts!!! You are entitled to one time out per half. You can call it when your team is in possession. It lasts for 1 minute.
- There are Penalty Kicks, IDFK's and DFK's just like in soccer.
- There is a Penalty Area, but rather than a rectangle, it is more of an arc similar to basketball.
One thing that kept throwing me off, is that there is no offside offense. An attacker can receive the ball from a teammate even when standing right next to the opponents goal and the 2nd to last defender could be at half-court.
Hand signals are different since you are constantly signaling from the sideline (2 ref system). It's not a big deal, but signaling for a GK restart is not what you are used to.
I was paid $25 per match. Each match had 2 24 minute halves with a 5 minute half-time. I earned $100 for 4 matches. I found that to be pretty fair. You don't have to run outside and deal with the elements. They also had music playing which made it a fun environment.
The best part for me was seeing the players use high skill moves to beat defenders 1 on 1 ro use some quick one two's to create space in the tight court. I love seeing our kids develop the technical abilities needed to progress in their soccer or futsal journey.
Lastly, I really appreciate the mental challenge of Futsal. At first, it's retraining my brain to handle the different rules, but also the fast pace of play. I really enjoyed it and can't to do it again soon! I have 4 matches tomorrow!