Bulldogs started as the simplest of ideas. Provide fitness and school identity through an after school futsal club. Recently divorced and virtually penniless, I was not in the best of moments. However, the idea of creating a club I could call my own resonated. I would be able to control this one small part of my life.
So in October of 2010, I posted a few flyers around the campus of Junction Ave K-8 School, and a few days later waited in my classroom to see if anyone would show up. Hoping for 15 kids, but praying for at least 10, I sat at my desk anxiously tapping a pencil. Little did I know, but my life was about to change. Within 10 minutes the room bulged with nearly 100 kids.
Now the fear tilted in a different direction. What would I do with 100 players? I had little knowledge, no prior coaching experience, and minimal equipment. This was not good. After 30 minutes of trying to sound like I had a plan, I stopped the meeting and told everyone to show up the next day behind the school.
Portable nets, beat up soccer balls, and utility cones on top of cracked asphalt basketball courts is apparently a recipe for content kids. All that Fall and Winter, this large group of boys and a few girls scrimmaged in jacket and gloves weather. Bruises and scraped knees became badges of unity.
By January, we had formed a donation based Saturday league that consisted of enough players to provide 8 hours of games. I was suddenly a league organizer, main referee, and an unofficial custodian as I swept and spot mopped when needed. Supposedly in my down time I was a 3rd grade teacher.
The asphalt courts in back of the school were not ideal, so in an almost maniacal frenzy, I began fundraising to construct outdoor futsal courts like I had seen in my childhood vacations in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The idea was to raise over $30,000 to build courts for a sport most people had never heard of. I’m sure somewhere Don Quixote was shaking his head. Most of my colleagues and parents politely nodded their heads at the idea, but deep down I suspect most of them thought I was nuts. At times, I too, thought the same.
A few weeks into the process, I asked our energetic Community Liaison, Belia Martinez, to attend a meeting of community leaders at a neighboring school. As fate would have it, members of a city planning group in charge of a recycling grant were in attendance. They were enthralled with the idea of providing fitness for our low income community and soon thereafter they approved the funds for two outdoor courts. They were built in the summer of 2011 and are recognized at the first of their kind on a school campus in the United States.
Now if the story ended here, it would be a good one. However, when the futsal bug bites, it bites hard. Out of the 100 students there were a dozen or so middle schoolers that stood out. Over the next 18 months, we trained 3x a week. I experimented with different techniques and tactics and settled upon a system of play. This group is now a bit of an urban legend as they went on to dominate the local competitive soccer clubs that would visit. Through graduation, girlfriends, and goofiness, this team eventually disbanded, but the seeds of a successful system of play were now in place. Edwin, Brian, Johnny, Hector, Zach, Christopher, Gustavo, Lefawo, Brandon, Alfonso, Lalo, and Pancho were a hell of a group. Just thinking about the group gets me a bit choked up. Just amazing kids.
In the Fall of 2013, we started a weekly training group for my son Luke, age 7, and his soccer buddies that played for BUSC: Ballistic United Soccer Club in Pleasanton, California. Under the canopy of an enormous Valley Oak, the group tossed acorns, chased squirrels, and occasionally trained at futsal. With the knowledge gained from training the Junction Ave boys, we now put a plan in motion: to become a competitive futsal team at the highest levels. In March of 2015, the boys won USFF’s u9 Regional Championship. In July of the same year, they won USFF’s National Championship under the banner of Ballistic United “Bulldogs” Futsal Club. This same double championship was also accomplished by our u8 group. BUSC is a progressive club and now has fully integrated futsal into the soccer curriculum at the younger ages. BUSC players are some of the few in the nation that essentially train at futsal year around.
In the upcoming year, we look to continue to train at a high level, and perhaps set sail for Barcelona where a standing invitation to participate in the World Futsal Cup awaits.
Rob Bell – BUSC Director of Futsal & Author of Winning Futsal: Secrets to Success in the Youth Game
I have read your book and website, and listened to your interview/podcast with OYFA. Inspirational stuff, thank you!
I live in Orlando. I want to start an U6 futsal team for my 5 year old son. Since he was very young, he would always play with the ball, and play with me and his sister in the backyard, just about everyday. Now he is playing friendly games with kids at the church and at the YMCA, and he almost always scores at least 10 goals per game, oftentimes more than 20. I want to give him the opportunity to improve his skills, and I think futsal is the best way to do that.
I have almost zero soccer playing and coaching experience, but nonetheless, I have watched DVDs and read books about coaching soccer to little kids.
I plan to start in May, 1 hour practice every Thursday night. Then I would like to add a game on the weekends, and go from there. Perhaps add another practice during the week.
I can rent a very nice indoor gym from the church for $50 per hour.
I think the ideal number of kids to have would be around 14 to 16. Then there would be enough kids for 2 teams, so that they can play games against each other.
I have two fears..
1. What if nobody shows up.
2. What if too many kids show up – like what happened to you when you had your first practice and 100 kids showed up, wow!
And I have many questions…
Should I set up a non-profit company?
Should I ask the parents to pay for every practice and game?
Should I get insurance?
Should I get the parents to sign an injury waiver form?
Should I ask the parents to buy and bring a futsal ball for their child to practice?
If you could please give me some advice and guidance, I would very much appreciate it.
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Congrats on putting your futsal plan into action! I’m getting a few flashbacks to the early days of Bulldogs. Very exciting, rewarding times await you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with additional questions and please keep me posted on your progress.
I hear you. Your concerns were exactly mine. You’ll adjust either way. In the end, everything will depend on how much fun the boys are having. If it’s fun, then your group will grow and parents will support you. There will be lots and lots of trial and error learning on your part, but this too will be rewarding and educational.
I’d set up a non-profit if you want to keep this a community based organization. Most futsal clubs and leagues are not non profits at this point. It’s basically a land grab as many soccer based coaches are now diving in and creating futsal clubs for financial gain. Creating a non-profit can be time consuming and will set you back hundreds of dollars if you go through a 3rd party. I’d wait to see how your informal trainings go before considering a non-profit.
Parents to pay for practice?
I’d say have them pay for the facility rental/insurance, but do not charge for coaching training…. yet. Once you’ve become a competent coach with a loyal following then you can ask for coaching fees.
Most facilities will require leasing/rental insurance. http://www.theeventhelper.com has respectable rates if you need insurance. They’ll only insure facilities and not players.
Never a bad idea. You can “cut and paste” from various waivers that are out there.
Parents provide a ball?
Yes, save yourself some money and have the parents buy the balls. It will also allow for the player to train at home.
Best of luck and keep me posted! (-:
Thank you very much for your advice. It really helps a lot.
Your advice makes perfect sense. I am definitely going to implement it.
Our first practice is scheduled for May 17.
I’ll keep you posted.
Thank again, all the best,
Just an update… I launched a website for our futsal club. If there is something that needs changing on the website, could you please let me know?
The sites looks great! Very accessible and straight forward. At some point, you might consider links to instagram, FB, etc. to show off the progress of your players and promote your growing club. Best of luck!!
Hi Rob, thank you very much for the feedback! Great idea about Facebook and Instagram, I will add that soon. Thanks again! Jacob.
Hi Rob, Where do you coach ? Are your session open for all kids and all age group ?
Hi Vishal, we are in Pleasanton, CA … East Bay… our focus in on u8-u14 competitive players… thanks!
Hi Rob- i’d like to sign up my son ..he’s u13. how can i get in touch with you? thanks
Hi Andy…. email@example.com