Futsal: “We have the Energy”
“We have the Energy” is the unofficial slogan for Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
“We have the Energy” may also be the unofficial slogan for the sport of futsal in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
“There has been a lot of energy generated at the two venues who have hosted the first two futsal tournaments this year,” said ACAC futsal convener Alan Rogan, of the sport which debuted in exhibition format in 2010 with tournaments held January 22-24 at Lakeland College in Lloydminster and February 12-13 at Medicine Hat College. “Crowds of upward 200 people at times attended!”
A third and final exhibition tournament is scheduled to be held March 19-21, 2010 at the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre in Fort McMurray with the host Keyano College Huskies.
Rogan, who is athletic director at Lakeland College, said that it has been “quite some time since (the ACAC) has introduced a new sport.”
“When we first discussed the new sport (futsal) a couple of years ago, many of the ACAC institutions voiced interest in competing but with the current financial situation a number of the institutions are having to relook at whether or not they can join immediately or have to wait. We have had some questions around what is the best format and operating rules but the coaches who have attended the tournaments have been very engaged when it comes to helping set the future direction for the sport in the ACAC.
“It is important to go through an exhibition season to work through things like sport specific rules, scheduling and to have all the stakeholders, coaches, athletic directors and student-athletes to supply feedback to make sure that if the sport moves forward, the process moves forward as smoothly as possible.
” Futsal is a sport that would complement the outdoor soccer season as it runs in the winter semester.”
So what is the sport of futsal you ask?
Basically – Fustal 101 – it is indoor soccer played with five players a side and with a smaller ball. Naturally the indoor area is not as large as an outdoor regulation pitch, so with that in mind, there is a focus on creativity and improvisation as well as ball control.
Since it was not mandatory that all 16 ACAC members attend one of the futsal tournaments this year, only half have participated to date.
Rogan said that “we do not have a firm number as of yet” for when the sport is added to the 2010-2011 ACAC regular season. Rogan said he has already “heard from four colleges who are interested” and added “a minimum of four teams will be required to commit to compete.”
One of those colleges ready to commit, is the Keyano College Huskies.
“Keyano College is very excited about the sport of futsal and trying to do our part to make sure it is a sanctioned sport in the ACAC,” said Huskies Athletic Director Wade Kolmel. “We know our student interaction in futsal is very high and we look forward to bringing it to the campus.”
Huskies are not new to the sport of futsal, both the men’s and women’s teams captured gold medals in the Alberta Colleges Athletic League in 2009.
Competing in the March 19-21, 2010 tournament are the Medicine Hat College Rattlers (winners of the last women’s futsal tournament), Lakeland College Rustlers (winners of the last men’s futsal tournament), Keyano College Huskies and two non ACAC teams; Keyano Huskies alumni and representation from both genders from the Fort McMurray senior outdoor soccer league.
“This is also a great opportunity to introduce the game of futsal to the adult programs in Fort McMurray,” said Kolmel, who is also president of the ACAC.
Huskies men, coached by Jonathan Soper, are winless in six exhibition matches, outscored 38-13, which may be a bit deceiving as majority of their games have been close aside from a 12-1 loss to the powerhouse Lakeland College Rustlers.
Huskies women coached by Mark Oxer, sport a record of two wins, four losses and two ties with 23 goals for and 32 goals against.
A key player for the Huskies is goalie Simone Quinlan, who English Football Association scouts had “high praise” for when attending the Medicine Hat tournament.
“They may have her possibly try out for a couple of teams in Europe or some higher level teams in the United States,” says Oxer.