Weekend Futsal tournament brought 73 teams to Farmington
With snow still thick on the ground in mid-March, teams that typically play outdoors might be getting a little cabin fever.
Last weekend, the South Metro Futbol Club gave at least a few of those athletes an opportunity to let off some pent-up energy. The club hosted its second annual Tiger Tune-up, a 73-team futsal tournament that allowed teams to get a taste of soccer action even if they can't yet see grass on the field.
Futsal is about as close as you can get to the soccer experience on a hardwood floor. Teams play five-on-five with a goalie on a basketball court. They use a small ball that is weighted to better mimic the movement a ball rolling on a grass field.
Play moves quickly, and the action never stops for long.
"It's a faster game in a smaller space," said Jason Schmidt, SMFC's tournament director. "It becomes a very fast-paced, sometimes high-scoring game. The games are much shorter, so they're more entertaining for people to watch."
The game also emphasizes fundamental skills. It's easy to lose control of the ball, and if you do, play can move the other way quickly.
Everything seemed to move quickly over the weekend. Games had two, 12-minute halves, and they ran simultaneously on five courts in the two gyms at FHS. With no room on the sidelines, parents and other fans watched from balconies above the courts. There was just two minutes between games for one pair of teams to leave and another to warm up.
Games ran from 7 until 9:45 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
SMFC started the tournament last year with 23 teams. They tried to expand it this year, but just a few weeks ago things didn't look good. Organizers weren't sure they would have enough teams to make the tournament worthwhile.
"We spent an awful lot of time calling and e-mailing clubs to get kids out there," Schmidt said. "We almost canceled the tournament at the end of February because we didn't have enough teams."
In the end, the tournament turned into a big draw. There were teams from Farmington, Rosemount and Lakeville but also from Wayzata, Maplebrook and as far away as Mankato. Boys and girls teams ranged in age from under 9 to under 16.
"It's a good way for the kids to get some exposure back into team playing in a fast-paced game," Schmidt said.