By RYAN VOYLES
H&R Staff Writer
Decatur – Despite the never ending winter outdoors, things were heated Saturday at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center.
More than a hundreds parents, volunteers and players were spread across the center's three indoor fields as the Decatur Park District’s MidState Soccer Club hosted its third annual 3-on-3 Futsal Tournament. Saturday's all-day festivities saw teams between the ages of 7 and 12 take the fields, with high school and adult teams set to face off today, weather permitting.
Futsal takes its name from an amalgam of the Portuguese word for soccer and the French word for indoors and has its own particular rules. There are no goalkeepers, and players charging around the shortened fields take aim at small oval hockey-like goals. Teams can have six players they rotate in and out of the action fast, and games are divided and decided in two 12-minute halves where offensive reigns supreme.
Stan Livingston, who was coaching his daughter's team, said it was fun to see all of the kids out on the field having fun, especially since they seemed excited about the chance for high-scoring matches.
“Hard to get them to play defense; they all want to score,” he said with a laugh.
While the scores are usually high, Kyle Gill said it provides players a chance to work on their communication and foot skills.
“It really gives them a chance to work on their teamwork, it's sort of a real free-for-all out there, and they need to be able to communicate,” said Gill, coach of the Mattoon Soccer Club U12 girls team.
Teams were placed in bracket and had the chance to compete against teams from across Illinois. While they love playing with their teams, several players had their eyes on the prize.
“We came here to win,” said Taylor Nicholson, a player on Gill's team.
Most players on Saturday had a soccer background, which prepared them for the higher speed of futsal as the ball careened off the hard ground and against the walls that echoed like cannon balls across the center.
The event brings a smile to Colin Bonner, the director of the MidState Club and the tournament organizer. The Scotland native said he decided to first organize the event two years ago as a chance to get people out of the cold and to compete and have fun. What started with about 60 teams has grown into a weekend during which 94 teams from across the state and across all age groups compete.
“I couldn't even tell you why it's grown; perhaps people just wanted to get out of the cold this year,” Bonner said.
The event is scheduled to continue today, though Bonner said Saturday afternoon a decision hadn't yet been made about how the predicted winter storm might affect the tournament. For more information, call the DISC at (217) 429-3472.
Regardless of the weather's impact on the scheduled matches, Bonner said he was blown away by how much the event has grown and it is to the point where Bonner said they may have to consider breaking it up into a two-weekend event.
“The fact we got 94 teams this year ... I couldn't have ever predicted that kind of support,” he said.