Futsal kicks off Monday | CraigDailyPress.com

Futsal kicks off Monday

David Pressgrove

In 2006, the Winter Olympics will add a new sport to its lineup called “futsal.” Starting on Monday, Craig residents will have a chance to experience it beforehand.

“The popularity is growing worldwide,” said soccer coach Bill Sawer. “We’ve been playing it for a couple of years here.”

Sawer is in charge of a futsal league that kicks off Monday night at Craig Middle School. Mondays and Fridays will be open for ages 14 and older, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are for youths ages 5 to 13. The sessions will go from 6 to 9 p.m.

“There’s always a need for more recreational opportunities in the winter in Craig,” Sawer said.

Unlike traditional indoor or “wall” soccer, futsal is a miniaturized version of the outdoor game with a few minor modifications. Kick-ins replace throw-ins when the ball leaves the field of play, the goalkeepers are forced to reintroduce the ball into play within four seconds of making a save, slide-tackling is prohibited and the net is reduced to 6 feet high and 10 feet wide.

Futsal is played with five-player teams and it uses a smaller, weighted version of a soccer ball. Sawer said that the typical soccer ball bounces around like a Ping-Pong ball when used inside.

Because of the smaller dimensions, (it’s played on a basketball court) the indoor game develops ball handling and quicker decision-making skills.

“It’s a good way for youth to get more touches during the winter,” Sawer said. “It’s also a good way for adults to get some exercise.”

Sawer said that the 14-and-older group will scrimmage, while the younger players will be taught skills according to their level.

“I’ll combine and mix the age groups so everybody gets a challenge,” Sawer said. “We’re more serious about participation than winning.”

The futsal nights are scheduled at CMS throughout January. After that, Sawer is hoping to find another facility because CMS is booked.

The cost to play is either $15 for the month or $2 a night.

In the final weekend of January, players will get to test their skills in the annual tournament that Sawer organizes.

The Groundhog Open is scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30. Teams from Montrose have committed and others from Steamboat Springs and Rifle have been contacted about playing, as well.

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