The ball hurtled towards me and in the split second before it hit, I knew I had two options. I could duck and avoid the ball, but then it would go into the net and the other team would score the point, because I was playing goalkeeper. The second option was to take the hit to the face, blocking the ball and keeping my team in the game.
Before I had time to make up my mind, the ball smashed into the side of my face. This was futsal, not boxing. I wasn’t expecting another hit to the face. My cheeks were stinging, but I quickly shook it off and resumed play. The opposing player who’d kicked the ball approached me with an apology, but I simply smiled and said “It’s good. Stuff happens.”
Above everything else, my priority during the practice was to score at least one point. Of course, given my lack of practice and natural talent, I knew even before stepping onto the court that it would be difficult. I started an offensive play by stealing the ball from my opponents near our goal, passing it to a player on the right and then sprinting towards the opponent’s goal. We reached the opposite end of the field, I motioned for him to pass the ball back into the centre, as I had outrun my defender and was open to shoot. My teammate passed the ball directly in front of me, and I wound up for a kick to drive the ball into the goal. My brain, however, was moving faster than my body. As I went for the shot, my foot missed the ball by a couple of centimetres, and it whizzed between my legs and went out of bounds.
With my pride on the line, the next attempt at a shot was nothing short of glorious. My team was clustered around the opponent’s goal and were passing the ball on the outsides, trying to get someone open. I cut into the centre once more and my teammate passed the ball backwards. The ball rolled towards my right leg, lining up for another potentially perfect shot. Lady luck must have been smiling on me and I kicked the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs, scoring my first point of the night.
Futsal or Football?
Football is played outdoors, on an extremely large pitch and 11 players on each team, and is commonly played around the world. Futsal, however, with only five players on each team and a smaller, indoor court, is a different game altogether.
According to Peter, one of the board members and a player on the R.S. first team, technique plays a greater role than strength and stamina. A smaller court means that there’s a smaller margin for error. Every pass, dribble move and shot needs to be made with the utmost precision. The game is also played at a faster pace than football, requiring constant sprinting up and down the field when transitioning between offence and defence.
While some members of the club prefer futsal to football for technical reasons, others also joined RS club out of convenience.
Nino, a second year Business Administration student, explained that since futsal practices and games were held only on weekdays, he could go home to Eindhoven to visit friends and family at weekends.
Marcel, an Econometrics student who has played in the club for five years, told me that he’d only started playing futsal at university, because the sport is not very common among young people. They tend to play traditional outdoor football, as that’s the more popular sport in schools and among friends.
From competitive games to charity events
With sixteen teams and around 140 members, the student club has players ranging from top class level, just one under the national level of play, to more recreationally oriented students. Teams may have practices and games on Mondays and Wednesdays and will play games against other futsal associations in Rotterdam.
Open practices are also held on Wednesdays, when members of the club and students in general are welcome to play games for a night. Felix, an exchange student from Switzerland, commented that ‘open practice evenings are a nice opportunity to just come and play, and nobody is against you if you’re not that good.’
A small committee of volunteers from the club recently hosted an event for young children, in partnership with the non-profit organisation Stichting Move. On the 24 May, a few members of the club took a group of kids around the EUR campus and then brought them to Erasmus Sport for a futsal clinic.