Valley AFC has a new soccer league, called Futsal. And although the season is well underway and you cannot sign up now, you can still catch a game and sign up to play next fall!
What is futsal you may ask? We wondered the same thing. According to the Valley AFC soccer director, Betsy Adkins it is a lot like soccer but the game is usually played on some sort of basketball court with a small, weighted ball that doesn’t bounce.
“It makes if harder because it’s a weighted ball and heavier to pick up. They actually have walls around the court, which is part of indoor soccer, you play against walls,” Adkins said. “It combines indoor soccer, which is oval with full walls, with nets above it. It’s really technical.”
Out of all of the Futsal teams, there are two Southwest Roanoke County teams, recreation and Valley AFC travel teams. Their new league plays at Star City Skate and Funzone off Hershberger and has four age divisions, U12, U14, U16, and a high school division. The younger division play with a football and the older kids play with a hybrid ball.
The teams finished up their third week of games, last week and after the new year will have seven remaining weeks of games. Each game has two, 25 minute halves with referees.
“The space is one of the neatest things becaues its really big- it’s a huge space,” Adkins said. “They fully net it for us. And the kids jump over the walls, kind of like hockey. It’s a really fast and fun game. The spectators have a really great place to watch. I thin that is kind of what makes it really neat.”
Adkins said that Futsal itself has been an upcoming sport for a long time, but indoor facilities have under shadowed it, which is part of the reason why Valley AFC decided to start a league.
“Its been a trend through soccer,” she said. “It’s just been one of those hidden soccer sports that is being played more and more. We’ve done some indoor leagues before. We did a small in-house futsal league at The Edge. This year is the first year we’ve opened it up and this is the first time we’ve done it with all age groups and gotten other recreation leagues in the area to compete.”
There was also a demand for it, Adkins said.
“We did see a demand for it and doing it in a way that our constituents could afford as well. I saw a need for it basically because the leagues we had been playing in were too small for a lot of our older kids. So, I was trying to find a way for our older kids to play in a big enough space that as still a challenge for them. Trying to up that level and get us playing at a higher level and more structured level, with real referees and times to keep trac of, makes it more competitive.”
So far, the league has been a success and Adkins says they will continue to offer it in the future.
“I think it’s going great. The kids absolutely enjoy playing. I think there is a lot of surprise and I think I had a lot of Kskeptics when I said we should do this. But when they walked in and saw how bit it was, they changed their mind and the kids have really enjoyed it. I think there is competition all over for inside space. We’ve got everybody playing in the winter, it doesn’t matter what sport it is. Soccer is definitely popularized and I think the indoor games has been as well, especially futsal.”
According to Futsal.com, Futsal is an international term used for the game which can be traced back to Montevideo, Uruguay in the 1930. The game became most popular throughout South America, particularly Brazil. The first international competition took place in 1965 and a U.S. team took part in the 1984 cup. In 1981 the U.S. Futsal Federation was founded.
Roanoke Valley AFC hold their tryouts every year for their travel teams and have sign up in November. For each team, entry fee is typically about $40 per person, with 10 kids per team.
For more information, visit www.valleyafc.org or call them at (540) 774-7272.