Ballistic United Futsal Club



An interview with Rob Andrews, President of USA Futsal


Rob, thanks for taking the time to sit down with Bulldogs Futsal here on our virtual couch. Along with MNT coach, Keith Tozer, you are regarded as one of the more influential Americans leading the charge to make futsal more prominent here in the U.S. In a short period of time USA Futsal has made quite a splash including hosting the annual Boys & Girls World Futsal Championships out of Disney World and the Intercontinental Cup in 2013. So here we go… a few questions to shine a light on our American Futsal scene.

Futsal is widely regarded as the incubator for Brazilian and Spanish soccer glory, so why haven’t U.S. Academies embraced futsal more vigorously?

It is not so much their fault as it is ours, in this case. Brazil and Spain have long struggled from a facilities standpoint. In place of soccer fields, all schools and public parks have futsal courts. Only the clubs are able to afford a nice green grass field. The fact that players all begin in futsal has big advantages in developing the top level soccer players; but many people don’t know that Kobe Bryant grew up playing futsal (Calcetto) in Italy as a child. The quick decision-making, development of technical proficiency and cognitive/spatial awareness required to excel at futsal has been proven to lead to success in other sports; it is now our job to offer more opportunities for kids to get started in futsal so that the Academies are able to incorporate them organically and receive the endless benefits that come with a player who was brought up in futsal. It is also pivotal that we create avenues where players who are excelling at futsal and don’t want to leave for other sports don’t have to.

In the US where do you see futsal in 10 years? What role do you envision USA Futsal playing?

I see every YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, soccer club and city park offering futsal facilities in addition to their current offerings. I see USA Futsal leading the charge through our “Roots Project” Initiative.

Will 10-year-old futsalers today be the reason the USMNT hoists the World Cup trophy in 2034?

An infinite amount of variables go into winning a World Cup, like any tournament. If the US Men’s National Team is able to hoist the trophy, there will be many factors involved. Futsal will absolutely be one of those factors. But even if they don’t win, it is my goal that by 20 years from now futsal’s place in the sports landscape will be solidified; leading to intrinsic benefits for players leaving us to join every other major sport in the country while building a pathway for those who want to remain in futsal and have the opportunity to do so at a professional level.

Rob, continued success with USA Futsal. We look forward to seeing futsal’s expanding footprint walk its way into the fabric of American culture and sporting life in the years to come.

Welcome to the (futsal) Jungle…


Jungle ball, kickball, and canine (K-9) all describe the punt style of play that many (most?) youth soccer clubs play in the U.S. This style of play can even be found in the English Premier League. Teams that lack the imagination and skill to build out of the back often elect to boot the ball as far as possible, bypassing defenders and midfielders who stare skyward as if tracking an orbiting satellite. The 9 then readies for the eternal 50/50 battle with the opposing 3. Sloths fighting over a ripe mango. Futsal, too, has its version of Jungle.

In the foliage of futsal’s Amazonia, you’ll find keepers deliberately throwing the ball out of bounds into the opponent’s half in the hopes their defense will now dispossess and score. Essentially forfeiting one’s offense and choosing to play defense. Pull back the branches a bit farther, and you’ll see keepers heaving the ball to mid-court in the futsal equivalent of a punt. Why bother with technique and tactics when you can plunge into the Jungle and machete away?

Building from the back requires reading the defense, correct decision making from multiple players, and the skill to pass or dribble. This requires lots of training, effort, and patience. It’s not for everybody and thus the Jungle will never lack for trees. But on occasion, a well coached team takes the court. Players play with ideas, good decisions are made under pressure, and there’s movement without the ball. A quality goal worth applauding may even result! At times like this the Jungle’s call becomes a distant whisper. Chaos gives way to control and futsal now becomes a game of probability and less one of chance.


National Champs


2015 USFF National Champions @ u8 & u9 – Anaheim, California

Although we were confident in our brand of ball, winning the 2015 Regional & National tournaments confirmed we were on to something special. Many of the u9’s had trained year around since they were 6-years-old.  The u8 families showed a similar dedication. Lots of hustle, hard work, and effort led to some great memories.

Futsal… fun, quirky, and only good for technique, right?


A few years ago, futsal in the Bay Area was largely regarded as a fun, quirky version of mini soccer. Parent led teams would enter local leagues in the Winter and it was thought the sport would maintain the previous season’s soccer skills. Futsal was mostly a book marker, holding the page until spring soccer came around. Yep, fun, quirky, and parent led.

Things are now changing. Once indifferent club soccer coaches generally agree futsal is good for technique. Once distant rumors that Pelé, Ronaldinho, and Neymar grew up on the sport are now accepted as fact. Instead of just maintaining soccer technique, futsal is now seen as an enhancer and creator of skill. And those that are really in the know declare that futsal is the incubator of all Brazilian soccer glory. Without futsal the legends of Brazilian soccer would never exist. And who are these in the know people? Well, none other than Pelé, Ronaldinho, and Neymar. And while we’re collecting Brazilian endorsements like wild strawberries, let’s put Socrates, Ronaldo, and Zico into the basket, too. All claim futsal as the foundation for their soccer glory. And less we come off as being too regional, let’s not forget Maradona & Messi. Both claim futsal as a major influence as well.

So here in the U.S. we’ve gone from fun and quirky to futsal is great for technique. However, the next step will be when futsal is regarded as fun, great for technique, and excellent for tactical awareness. Frequent 2v1 & 3v2 situations, when and where to pass & move, and how to involve the keeper as an offensive weapon, are just a few of the many decisions that need to be solved under pressure and time constraints. Perhaps this is why like in basketball, futsal players are able to process lots of information and churn out solutions. Even the fastest soccer game cannot match the slowest futsal game in terms of solving complex problems under playing duress.


Rob Bell – BUSC Director of Futsal & Author of Winning Futsal: Secrets to Success in the Youth Game  


Bulldogs FC… a brief history


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          



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