1 Grateful for the March Madness
Quality futsal tournaments are far and few between. So USFF’s Regional and National events every March and July are important markers on the west coast. The community gathers, swaps stories, and collectively gauges the progress or lack thereof of our young sport. For 35+ years USFF has provided a platform for youth futsal. To this end, Alex Para, his daughters, and staff deserve a sincere nod of appreciation and thanks.
2 Quality of play continues to increase
In recent years, each age group has typically had two or three quality teams. For this tournament the numbers were now at four to five. Positioning, movement off-the-ball, and cohesive zone defenses abounded. The coaching knowledge base is clearly growing with teams from Portland leading the charge. PCUFC and Rose City Futsal were especially good with their off-the-ball movements; a hallmark of well coached teams. Passing and consistently moving into space is not easy to teach. Many teams are still fairly static, and play is often station to station. Most soccer players that provide the pool for our futsal clubs simply aren’t used to the frequent, instant movements that higher level futsal requires. So when you see a team that does move automatically into space, you know their coach has done some heavy lifting.
3 Rose City Futsal, the revolution starts now
Up until this event, I’ve never been envious of any other club. However, after watching Rose City Futsal’s u9 girls and speaking to their talented coach, Sarah Plymale-Panza, that’s all changed. The club now has futsal only players at u9. These girls and boys train 3x per week at futsal year round. Soccer training isn’t apart of their routine. So huge props to RCF. Pick your color: olive, lime, jade, chartreuse. We all have reason to be green with envy. Rose City players will literally out-train the rest of our teams by hundreds of hours in the next few years. Congrats again to RCF’s ownership and Eduardo Araujo for a vision realized.
4 Referees – the zebra herd runs in different directions
I tend to be very forgiving of referees. There’s lots of blame and little glory and yet they’re essential for the sport. I’ve refereed hundreds of games myself and I know how easy it is to miss a call or two per game. That said, the refereeing was as poor as I’ve seen in the past decade. For every stellar referee like Ron Leedy or Albert Montalvo, there were multiple refs not aware of the pass back rule! The space restrictions for defenders on kick-in’s and corners was rarely enforced even when players requested it. There was also enormous confusion on whether players could head the ball or not. Some referees called heading infractions and awarded free kicks and others did not. By the second day of play all referees were informed players could head the ball regardless of age. For a tournament of this prestige and pricing, the lack of experienced, knowledgable referees was disappointing.
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