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March 22, 2011 > MACSA dominates at Dream Courts

MACSA dominates at Dream Courts

By Simon Wong

The U.S. Futsal Federation (USFF), based in Berkeley, hosted its 2011 Northwest Regional Championship at Dream Courts, Hayward, on March 12-13. Ninety teams, from Oregon to the Mexican border, competed for a place in the U-8 to U-19 and Open (adult) categories at the National Championship to be held in Anaheim in July.

"Futsal has been played since 1930, when Uruguay won the first World Cup which boosted soccer's world-wide popularity. At the time, there were far fewer soccer pitches so five-aside soccer was played indoors on basketball courts with a soccer ball," explained USFF President and CEO Alex Para. "I happened to join the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Committee in 1989 at about the same time futsal came under the auspices of FIFA. We made some minor modifications such as larger fields, a ball with greater bounce and use of a size three ball. The game has evolved."

Para credits the president of FIFA for supporting futsal as a sport. Hong Kong was also instrumental in raising the game's profile when it hosted the 1992 World Championship (there have been six FIFA futsal world championships since 1989). According to Para, FIFA is more likely to select smaller jurisdictions and countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Guatemala to host a futsal world championship. Soccer powerhouses, like Germany and Italy, tend to host the World Cup.

USFF was established in 1981 and membership has grown steadily to 140,000. At the moment, futsal is the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

Many players come to futsal because it is a very technical game. People are beginning to realize its benefits. Of the 19 soccer world cup championships, 16 have been won by futsal-playing nations. The world's best soccer players grew up playing futsal - Maradona (Argentina) and Pele (Brazil) received FIFA Player of the Century awards and Messi (Argentina), Ronaldo and Ronaldinho (both of Brazil) have been named FIFA World Player of the Year during their careers. Spain never won a world soccer championship but started playing futsal in 1982; when Spain won the 2010 World Cup, the squad included nine former futsal players.

"The message is to catch them young," explains Para. "In the rest of the world, nobody plays soccer until they're 12 years old. Youngsters don't play on soccer fields until they go to secondary or middle school. However, primary schools with futsal courts, or basketball courts, are an excellent training ground.

"I'd encourage children to play, not only to acquire and develop their skills, but because futsal is an exciting game," Para added. "In the World Cup, there is an average of 2.6 scores per game with approximately 15 shots at the goal; in the futsal World Championship, there are 8.7 with about 120 shots. Futsal is much faster paced with two 20-minute halves."

The Northwest Regional Championship is one of eight regional tournaments to decide who will go to Anaheim where 200 teams will compete.

The San Jose-based Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA) Open Women's team played on the offensive to score 4-0 against San Francisco's Di Bufala Sport Club and will go on to defend their 2010 National Championship title. MACSA futsal teams, coached by Juan Bramos and Mario Gonzalez, have earned a formidable reputation, winning national titles for more than a decade.

In the U-11 boys group, DV Barcelona lost 7-3 to Los Gatos PUMAS. In the U-12 boys group, Mavericks Cosmos lost 9-3 to Los Gatos PUMAS. MACSA fielded both winning teams.

"Dream Courts is the best indoor sports facility we've seen," remarked Linda Larot, whose daughter Raylene plays for the elite MACSA Open Women's team. "Players and their families are on a budget when they can't commute to a local venue, so grand hotels and fine dining are not options. Typically, they favor places such as Marriott Hotels and family restaurants in the city where the tournament is held."

"I'd recommend people come and play at this excellent venue. We've travelled to the East Coast for tournaments and finally have something in the Bay Area, West Coast," added Lisa Hollidge, whose daughter Helene plays for Bay Oaks Botafogo U-14 girls.

"This tournament brought approximately 3,400 visitors to Hayward," said Dream Courts CEO Teresa Banks. "We're so pleased with the positive feedback about this indoor sports facility. We are considering a local futsal league as part of our programming. The weekend has been a great success for everyone involved."

For more information about the U.S. Futsal Federation, visit www.futsal.com, e-mail futsal@futsal.com or write to United States Futsal Federation, P.O. Box 40077, Berkeley, CA 94704-4077.

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