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What the heck is futsal? A primer for sports fans

The city’s new futsal court is at Fairmount Park, near Wichita State University. The court brings a bit of international flair to the park, said Mayor Jeff Longwell.
The city’s new futsal court is at Fairmount Park, near Wichita State University. The court brings a bit of international flair to the park, said Mayor Jeff Longwell. The Wichita Eagle

The city of Wichita is officially opening its first futsal court on Monday.

So your next question is likely: What’s futsal?

Basically, it’s a scaled-down variant of soccer, played on a hard-surface court with smaller teams and a smaller ball.

The name futsal – in some countries futsala – means living-room soccer and is derived from a combination of futbol, the Spanish/Portuguese word for soccer, and the French salon or Spanish sala.

The new futsal court is on a converted tennis court at Fairmount Park, a block south of Wichita State University.

Futsal, which originated in Uruguay and spread around the world, is especially popular with international students who learned the sport in their home countries. The city worked with the university to develop a court to accommodate it, officials said.

Some WSU students said Thursday that they’re looking forward to trying it out.

Futsal player Minn Mawia, who hails from the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, said the game is like soccer but faster-paced. Teams are made up of five players instead of the 11 used for a full soccer team.

Compared with open-field soccer, “it’s a little trickier,” Mawia said.

The court is usually indoors, surrounded by sidewalls like a hockey rink. A big part of the strategy is caroming passes off the sidewalls to set up teammates to score, he said.

Wichita’s new court is outdoors and fenced in.

Andrew Banks, a WSU junior from Maize, said he enjoys indoor soccer and will probably give futsal a try.

“The main difference is it’s a heavier ball, a smaller ball,” he said. Because of that, “It emphasizes foot skills more than regular soccer.”

The new court brings a bit of international flair to the park, said Mayor Jeff Longwell.

It will help us serve our diverse student population and it just provides the kind of amenities that we want to see in our city.

Jeff Longwell, Wichita mayor

“The courts are well-represented in other countries,” Longwell said. “It will help us serve our diverse student population and it just provides the kind of amenities that we want to see in our city.”

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, futsal is increasing in popularity in Southern California because of a growing immigrant population and the fact that a futsal court costs about a 10th the price of developing a full soccer field.

Wichita spent $281,000 to tear out some old tennis courts and reconstruct the site with the futsal court and a new tennis court. There’s lighting and a small set of bleachers for spectators. A $100,000 federal grant paid for more than a third of the project.

Longwell said city officials will cut the ribbon on the futsal court and other improvements at Fairmount Park at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

WSU mascot WuShock will participate in the opening ceremony, along with Barry the Bison, the city Park and Recreation Department mascot.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

Soccer-Futsal comparison

Soccer

Futsal

No. 5 ball

No. 4 ball (smaller, 30% less bounce)

11 players

Five players

Three substitutions

Unlimited substitutions

Throw-in

Kick-in

45-minute halves

20-minute halves

No time-outs

One time-out per half

Goal kicks

Goal clearance throws

Certain contact allowed

No shoulder charges or sliding tackles

Offside rule

No offside rule

No sidewalls

Balls off sidewalls remain in play

Source: U.S. Futsal

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