What is Futsal?
Futsal, a variant of the world’s most famous sport, association football, differs in the major sport by being played on a smaller, hard, and indoor court. The sports interaction this activity has it shares most with the five-a-side-football.
The name “futsal” derives from the Spanish word fútbol sala or fútbol de salón and the Portuguese futebol de salão. Loosely translated, the term denotes “indoor football”. Since the 1985 World Championship in Madrid, the sport adapted futbal sala as the sport’s name. The sala was then dropped to its current international name “futsal”.
Two teams with five players each play in a futsal game. Each has its own goalkeeper and the rules allows for unlimited player substitutions during the set. The ball used in the games is a smaller and harder ball than that of association football. In addition, the ball bounces at a significantly lower rate. The overall strength of a team lies on their improvisation, creativity, and technique.
Futsal in India
In India, the sport banks on the fame of association football and specifically, its famous players. Thanks to Brazil’s Neymar with his football institute and the Neymar Jr’s Five—a futsal competition, more and more Indians are into the sport. In Mumbai alone, a futsal tournament happens almost every weekend. This is because of a variation of futsal like the Kerela Sevens that remains popular in India. The government also sees this as an opportunity to broaden the scope of the national futsal league and to create an ultimate national Indian Futsal team.
The government shows no short in efforts in promoting the sport. The now defunct Premier Futsal used to be the national futsal tournament in India which eventually stopped due to administration issues. With big stars such as Ronaldinho and Ryan Giggs, it failed to gain recognition from the AIFF—the national football league in India. However, as the seed is planted, enough planning, care, and execution is needed to fully reach its potential. Futsal is still undeniably popular and can regain mass support with proper management.
Talk about proper management—The Futsal Association in India or the FAI, governs all futsal games in India. Formed in 2007, the FAI manages both the men’s, women’s, and the youth national futsal teams in the country. Namdev Shirgaonkar, its former president, also served as an exco member of the Olympics Association of India.
The organization aims to educate Indian youth on the importance of the sport and bring local and national tournaments to help the cause. Its ambition to produce world class players with ranks comparable to that of football is a high but reachable goal. Moreover, it envisions that the sport, like cricket and football, becomes one of the major sports played in the country.
The FAI boasts affiliation with the Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF) since 2011. In addition, it prides itself as a founding member of the Confederation of Asian Futsal (CAFS). Today, the organization has tied up with over 300 local schools and colleges in India in its efforts to raise awareness of the sport.