Don’t call it football

This diminutive form, as if to indicate an alleged inferiority to football, is something that someone walking on the floor with the ball on their feet doesn’t really want to say. It’s five-a-side football, or if you want to call it expert futsal (a term that’s the crasis of fútbol de salón, or indoor soccer).. The 2022/2023 season of the Italian top division ended yesterday. Feldi Eboli, born in 2002, repeated the win at Cisterna di Latina’s Palasport after winning the first leg of the play-off final on the Olympus Roma pitch. It is the first time that a team from Campania manages to sew the tricolor on the chest.

In Italy, this sport only appeared in the 1980s, but its world premiere was already 50 years ago. It was invented by Juan Carlos Ceriani Gravier, a Buenos Aires-born physical education professor who was teaching at a Montevideo high school in 1930. The gym was too small, it was impossible to play football in a small space.

Necessarily virtue. The professor invented futsal, inspired by football of the year 11, but also drew inspiration from other disciplines.

The number of players and length of time were taken from basketball, the size of the field and goals from handball, and even the rules of goalkeepers from water polo. The sport was codified a few years later, in 1933, and from that moment with a real regulation He began to travel around South America very quicklyBrazil finds particularly fertile soil.

Feldi Eboli didn’t miss the appointment with the story

In Italy, the growth of the movement was slow. The first championship didn’t take place until 1984, the same year that the national team made their debut in an official match on November 10 against the Netherlands. The creation of the Futsal Division, the FIGC body that manages the activities of this sport, came a few years later, in 1989. From that moment, futsal began to be appreciated. Especially at amateur level: practical, fast, fun. In 2018 a Article in Il Sole 24 ore speaks of 3 million practitioners. Also popular at competition level. Today there are more than 100,000 members and over 2,500 clubs. A sport that is therefore very popular in our country. But that he could be in even better health.

In Italy, Rome was the champion at the beginning. In fact, the capital is full of sports clubs. It is mainly the tennis players who adapt their courts by proposing the alternative.

From trying out for fun to competitive sports, the step is very short. In the first 18 editions of the top division 16 times a Roman or provincial team wins (Roma, Roma RCB, BNL, Torrino, Lazio, Genzano or Marino) once the winner is a Lazio, Ortana team. The only time the Scudetto is awarded outside the region is in the 1998/99 season, when Torino will win the Italian flag. However, the dominance of Rome and its provinces ended in the 2000s and futsal moved to small towns.

Although it’s still a big city pastime at the amateur level, The competitive sector is shifting to the province or to sparsely populated municipalities. Teams like Prato, Arzignano, Luparense and Montesilvano keep climbing to the top of Italy to then clean up the disruption. The case of Luparense, the association of San Martino di Lupari in the province of Vicenza, which holds the highest title at national level, is emblematic. In about ten years he won 6 championships (Italian record), 6 Italian super cups and 3 Italian cups. After losing the championship final of the 2017/2018 season against Abruzzo club Acqua e Sapone, President Stefano Zarattini decides to withdraw the team.

“There is no single reason that led to this painful decision,” Zarattini told the press, “other than the realization that an incredible cycle full of countless achievements has come to an end.” I could say that over the years has become increasingly difficult to maintain at a given level as bureaucracy becomes more and more overwhelming for entrepreneurs approaching the world of sport.”

Another illustrious farewell is even more impressive. Montesilvanoa company in the province of Pescara, It is the only Italian club to have won the highest European competition. In the 2010/2011 season he won the continental title in the final against Sporting Lisbon. Montesilvano also holds another record by winning the UEFA Cup (as the competition is called). It is the continent’s least populated city to have won this title. A country of just 50,000 people but unable to cope with the rise, the entrepreneurs behind the company make other investments and in 2017 the team disappears.

The goalkeepers of Montesilvano, European champions (last right, the legendary Stefano Mammarella)

However, the Montesilvano case leaves something behind. In the small town on the Adriatic coast, one of Italy’s most prestigious establishments remains open. The PalaRoma (dedicated to Corrado Roma, former player and coach) is a pitch where the national team also plays. The lack of suitable arenas in big cities is probably one of the reasons why this sport was removed from the metropolises. The recent words from the president of the futsal section have also raised the question:

“We are facing an energy crisis that cannot be ignored, technical problems and many challenges that we have to face.” Let’s start again with the young people, with the schools, with our DNA ».

The town of Montesilvano, which has been organizing the competition for ten years, is starting again from a young age Montesilvano Futsal Cup. A youth competition in which participants from all over the world take part. This year, from June 24 to July 1, teams from all five continents will be represented at the same time for the first time. In its history, the most prestigious clubs in the world have visited this area like the Spanish from Inter Movistar (the most successful club in Europe), the Argentines from Rosario Rowing, the Brazilians from Atlético Paranaense and the Latvians from Nikars. In addition, also thanks to this event, many young players have now become players at international level, such as the current goalkeepers of the Italian national team Germano Montefalcone and Lorenzo Pietrangelo in the A1 at Pescara and Napoli or as the Pole Michal Katuza is in the Spanish Primera Division registered with the Pescados Rubén Burela FS.

In Italy, therefore, there seems to be a clear difference between professionalism and youth level. As we’ve seen, there are many teams trying to compete in the top flight but are then forced to contend with budgets, bankruptcies and waivers.

On the other hand, there are just as many clubs that decide to dedicate themselves exclusively to the youth context. Two parallel worlds that don’t touch, a unique case of the national sport. Abroad, in countries like Spain, Portugal or Brazil, there are clubs that promote young players and then get them into the top teams. First teams that, unlike Italy, enjoy a lot of media coverage and whose player contracts are at a professional level. In Italy, a good player (usually a foreigner) earns his wages as a skilled worker. A salary that will give you a decent living while you play but may not guarantee you a future when you hang up your football boots. The lack of dialogue between the youth context and the first team is also reflected in the national team.

Futsal Italy has also achieved good results in its relatively short history. However, this often happened through the phenomenon of naturalization.

The blue roses were rich in natives, mostly Brazilians who wore the blue shirt thanks to distant Italian ancestry. True, the native Italy swept the European title in 2003 and 2014 and reached the final of the 2004 World Cup, when due to the injury of Gianfranco Angelini no player was born to stand on the field for the national team Italy. Without a doubt, prestigious results, but which have not stimulated the national youth sector. So overall Is Italian futsal in good health? We can say yes, it’s not right to complain. However, we need to work quickly to make the connection between the ‘bottom’ and the global first team that we lack.

The article Don’t call it football comes from Rivista Contrasti.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *