Greg Simmonds is a former Jamaican International and Professional Player. He is the founder of Own Touch in Richmond, Virginia (www.OwnTouchSoccer.com) – an indoor facility designed specifically to train, mentor and develop the individual performance of youth soccer players. Greg is also the founder of FutsalRVA – one of the largest FUTSAL leagues in the United States and the biggest year round FUTSAL academy in the United States with 270 kids (up from 30 in 2013). (www.FutsalRVA.com).
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The best players in the world all played futsal, all every player you can think of that are top world stars grew up playing futsal. So I'm like... And then I researched it and it's basically street ball. It's just playing on the streets. In Brazil and United States of America or Jamaica, we just go on the streets and play. In Brazil it was such a popular thing to go on the streets and play, that they just created a game out of it. And it was basically an inner city game that they played on abandoned basketball courts. And it was phenomenal. It's the best thing. I can't say it enough that every kid must play the game.
What role do you see it playing in just the future of soccer in the United States? Because it is... They just announced now, obviously we have our boys and our men's national football teams. They've just announced a US women's national football team and have the youth teams for the girls. So it's definitely gaining some steam in the United States. But what role do you see at playing in the future just of soccer development?
It's a huge role and I'm very excited. I remember when I started, I actually started our academy five years ago and I couldn't tell the clubs any more, you have to have futsal in your program. If you train three times a week, one of those sessions have to be futsal. And if you train two times a week, one of the sessions have to be futsal, especially for the younger kids. ADP and all that, they should be playing futsal. But nobody could understand why I was thinking that. Why is it so important? I'm like, "Because it's just a free playing creative atmosphere that these kids get a million touches on the ball compared to what they get on soccer." And we always talk about repetition, repetition and it's a no-brainer and it's a game and it's fun.
Kids love it. They're going to develop and not just for that, it's just the creativity that it breeds in a player. And it's the flare and the rhythm and the balance and the control and the pace of the game and the decision-making. You learn all that in a game of futsal. So you don't even have to do a lot of tactical or training sessions, you just let them play. And the repetition of these things happen in the game that these kids don't even know because they're having so much fun that they just automatically develop. So for me, it's a must. It's absolute must that every kid should play the sport. And now as you see, it's getting popular because now the soccer guys are getting familiar with it now and they're seeing the importance of it.
So it's important. You look at Spain, all those guys grew up playing futsal. You look at Brazil, they look at Columbia, you look at all these worlds. Even Germany now it's becoming a big sport. England is way behind, just like the US, but now it's becoming a part of their FA. They're putting programs involved with the FA now. All youth must play futsal. So it's critical. It's a massive importance and [inaudible 00:02:53] played it with me and Chris played all the stuff. Guys out of Richmond. They all played it.
What role do you see it playing for smaller players and do you see a time where... 'Cause the US, I think we overvalue the size for our players on our highest levels. So what role do you see it playing for smaller players and do you see a time where a child's going to maybe just grow up and play futsal, not even play outdoor?
For small players, I think... For me it's just education of our coaches first, when it comes to small players. It's just a style of play that these coaches are looking for. And I can see once these coaches start getting involved with futsal, they'll love small players, it doesn't matter. So it's just the coaches right now and the culture of the US, of how these coaches are thinking about the game and the style of play that they play and a winning mentality all the time. They look past the small players, but I think as coaches get involved with futsal and understand the technique and the creativity, they're going to love that side of how to really play the beautiful game and they're not going to even look twice to not pick in a smaller player.
So I think it's just the whole culture and that's why, again, futsal is so important for even just our coaches to get involved with. And I definitely see futsal becoming its own sport. I can see it in high school, I can see it in college, I can see NCAAs taking it on. I can see it becoming an Olympic sport. I could see where kids are going to start deciding, am I going to play soccer or am I going to play futsal. I guarantee you right now it's going to happen. When? Not sure, but it's going to happen.
I told Callie, my daughter that I was interviewing you today and we had a futsal conversation and she's saying everything you're saying, how much she loves it and how much it's helped her. And she starts talking about it and she goes crazy. And she said, "Mom, if futsal all was a college sport, I think I would want to play futsal in college."
Yeah. I'm telling you. No. And again, it gives another option. Because you're passionate about the game of soccer and futsal is basically soccer and it's some kids just don't make it in the soccer world. But there's another avenue to still play the game that you love. And I'm telling you it's a whole nother sport. But it's the same set of people. In Spain, in Brazil, because when we went to Barcelona playing a world tournament, we spoke to a lot of the guys and there's... In Barcelona, we spoke to directors. And what happens is once you get to the age of 12, kids decide, am I going to be a futsal player or am I going to be a soccer player? And that's when you decide. So after the age of 12, you're either playing futsal full-time or you're playing soccer full-time. And that's how it is in Spain and Colombia and the rest of the world.