If you love football, chances are, you’ll love futsal too.
All the ingredients that make football the beautiful game go into futsal too, but there are some key differences that make the latter challenging for even the best regular footballers.
It’s an exciting sport played at a frenetic pace. Blink and you’ll miss not one, but two or three goals.
While professional futsal requires a supreme level of fitness and training, it’s great for amateurs to have a bit of fun and score plenty of goals with enough goalmouth action to ensure that the goalkeepers are constantly on their toes.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you play your first futsal game.
NOT THE SAME AS INDOOR FOOTBALL
A common misconception is that futsal and indoor football are the same thing. There are several key differences that make futsal a whole different ball game.
First of all, while indoor football is played on astro turf, futsal is played on a court which is a much harder surface. The ball that is used is a size four as opposed to a size five in regular football or indoor football.
There are no slide tackles in Futsal (you don’t want to be sliding around on that surface anyway!). All in all, it generally makes for a far quicker and intense sport.
BE WARY OF INJURY
Even though slide tackles aren’t permitted in futsal (you can still slide to intercept the ball), there is a lot of running around at top speed in a confined space. If you get blocked off, tripped or unwittingly collide with another player, you’ll hit the deck. And you’ll hit it hard.
It’s important to keep your bearings and be aware of what’s around you because it’s really no fun being floored on that surface and you may end up seriously injuring yourself.
For those suffering from weak knees or back problems, futsal sadly may not be the best activity. While top notch courts used for professional futsal can be considerably shock absorbent, most used at amateur level are not.
It can prove to be traumatic for your knees and back. Definitely wear a knee brace if you feel any slight discomfort. How come basketball players don’t seem worried about a hard court then? Good question (let’s pretend you asked).
Basketball makes similar demands of a player. It requires high intensity running, sharp turns, abrupt halts and swift changes in direction, all on a hard court. However, their shoes are specifically designed to be shock absorbent, even offering great ankle support. Hence, their bulkiness.
It’s important to have the right footwear with good grip before you play futsal or you’ll be slipping all over the place and be more susceptible to unjury.
GET A FEEL FOR THE BALL
The ball is not only smaller in size but is heavier as well. Along with the friction of the surface, it bounces a lot less as well (around 30% less bounce compared to a normal ball), which ensures that the game is played at a much faster pace.
Close control is arguably the most valued asset in futsal. Given the tight space and intensity of the game, your first touch needs to be a good one as you won’t be allowed much time. It’s helpful to even trap the ball with your sole in order to exercise immediate control.
Have a few practice shots at goal as well. Focus on striking the ball cleanly rather than hard. Try using as little back-lift as possible in order to get your shots away quickly and always have a good old fashioned toe-poke in your repertoire (it may be ugly, but it comes in handy!).
You’re now ready for you first game! Do have anything you’d like to add or questions on how to get involved with futsal in the UAE?
This year’s Dubai World Cup had it all. Any big event needs its headline act to show up, and Arrogate did that; providing a performance so dramatic that even his jockey was shaking afterwards.
We all expected him to win, but no-one thought he’d be so relaxed about it that he’d be stone last early in the race and swoop by late to conquer – it was genuine heart-inthe-mouth stuff.
“He’s the best I’ve ever had,” said Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert after the race. He’s not a man often moved by emotion, but the trademark dark glasses were off and he laid himself bare to greet his $17million star.
In winning the World Cup, Arrogate eclipsed California Chrome’s record and became the richest American-trained horse to date, with the promise of more to come.
Not that he knows, obviously, or cares. Just before the race I turned around at the right time and caught a glimpse of him in the Parade Ring.
He was so relaxed you’d swear he was drugged; lolling around, head lowered. The trouble was, he was just as relaxed in the race itself, and so leisurely early on that even his unflappable jockey Mike Smith must have been flapped.
The rest, as they say, is history, but what history – he’s officially the best World Cup winner in the event’s 22-year history, and I can’t find anyone to argue with that.
Rated 134, Arrogate is officially the best horse ever to race in Dubai, being two points higher than the great Cigar; winner of the inaugural Dubai World Cup back in 1996.
He’s only been beaten once, on his debut, which remarkably came less than a year ago. We’re unlikely to see him in Dubai again – his career might well end at the Breeders’ Cup in November – but it’s fantastic that he came and conquered.
Arrogate aside, it was a vintage day of racing. The huge, rain-dampened, crowd, called for a win for their patron, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, there with his family, and they got two.
First, the wonderfully game Thunder Snow dug deep to land the UAE Derby, then Jack Hobbs was oh so smooth in taking out a quality Sheema Classic field.
The latter is a horse who will be able to take Godolphin to all of the big middle distance events this summer. Japan rarely miss a beat, either, and they strengthened their grasp on the meeting’s grass races by taking the Dubai Turf for a second successive year, this time with the likeable mare Vivlos.
Before that, we saw a pair of French victories; legendary trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre taking the Gold Cup for a second time with Vazirabad, given a superb ride by Christophe Soumillon.
Then, Didier Guillemin announced his arrival on the world stage in no uncertain terms, sending out The Right Man for a narrow Al Quoz Sprint victory.
We also saw an “unexpected” – in the words of jockey Harry Bentley – win for Qatar with Reda in the Arabian’s Group I, the Dubai Kahayla Classic, plus journalist-turned-trainer Chad Summers made his own bit of history when saddling Mind Your Biscuits to win the Golden Shaheen.
It was his first ever runner, and he’d told us all week he would win. That’s just one story to emerge from a truly vintage World Cup meeting. It was such a great week that my post-World Cup depression is worse than normal. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Thierry Douillard will be leading the EFG Bank Monaco team as they gear up to win what will be their fourth consecutive win in the Arabia Tour.
In this video by Gillette World Sport, the Frenchman discusses the complexities of the race and his “Never give up” mantra for success.
Do you think EFG Bank Monaco can get their fourth consecutive win in the Arabia Tour?