While Shoeless Soccer (see previous post) touts hard surfaces as a great teaching tool for younger players, especially as an alternative to thick grass, it’s unlikely that all of the families in your local club are going to sign up their kids to play on pavement instead of the local elementary school field.
But would it be an interesting option for some players? And would everyone benefit if hard-surface soccer (we’re going to skip the “shoeless” and “shin guard-less” recommendations, which clubs aren’t going to sanction in a modern litigious environment) as a year-round option, not just in winter futsal?
I’m still a little skeptical that a typical random assortment of 6-year-olds will stop playing magnetball and magically start spreading out and controlling the ball just because they’re on a faster surface than grass. But a self-selected group of 6-year-olds with a bit more aptitude for the game just might.
I once coached a player from Argentina. He turned up at our first practice in a Messi shirt and impressed everyone at practice with his footskills. Then he was a non-factor in games because he could never get the ball out of the mob that chased it around the field. I didn’t see him again after that season.
Another player on my U-Little teams had a knack for running into open space, where he would wait for a pass that would set him up for an easy goal. That pass never came. He plays baseball now.
Maybe if the club offered an alternative soccer experience, it would attract like-minded players who could grasp the concept of using all the available space, not just the space around the ball.
So here’s an idea for your local club: Offer futsal not just in the winter but in other seasons as well. Kids could sign up for this instead of or in addition to the traditional outdoor league.
And you can make the financial argument that you’ll have more “field” space! One reason so many kids play on bad grass fields is because clubs are desperate. If some kids are playing in gyms, which are mostly vacant when it’s not basketball season, fewer kids need outdoor fields.
Surely some clubs are already doing this. How’s it working?