Futsal benefiting RDC soccer program
It’s a sport in which many of the greatest soccer players in history honed their skills.
The likes three time FIFA world player of the year, Lionel Messi, Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo grew up playing futsal.
RDC Queens head coach Dave Colley can see the benefits of the sport, which is played locally on a basketball court, with five players on each side including a goaltender.
“It’s the fastest sport I’ve been involved with and there are a lot of skills that can be transferred to the outdoor game,” said Colley, who coached the Queens during their first taste of the game last weekend at Ambrose College in Calgary.
“It’s a different sport than the outdoor game because it’s a much smaller area, but you get an opportunity to work on individual skills such as hanging onto the ball, and passing, that can only help when you’re outdoors. You get better at the first touch and what to do with that first touch.
“Plus you have one or two defenders on you right away. You have to be more skillful while there’s less running.”
Besides the playing area the ball is one size smaller than the outdoor game, plus it’s a bit heavier and set so it doesn’t bounce like a normal ball. Goals are approximately three-yards wide and 2.2-yards high.
Colley noted that players also need to watch their turnovers.
“You make a turnover here and it’s gone the other way,” he said.
The Queens posted a very respectable 2-1-2 record, finishing third in the six-team tournament. The Kings were also third with a 2-3 record.
Kings head coach Steve Fullarton agreed with Colley in that players need to react quickly and work on handling the ball in a smaller area.
“It’s completely different than the outdoor game and the guys struggled a bit with some of the rules and getting used to the game,” he said. “But we’ve seen it once and we know what we’re up against, so we can go back to the drawing board and prepare for the next tournament. I do know the guys had fun and they’re looking forward to Lakeland.”
Lakeland College in Lloydminster will host the second tournament, Feb. 15-17, with the top four teams advancing to the ACAC finals March 15-16 in Olds.
Fullarton also sees the benefits his players will get from the game.
“The speed and how quickly you need to think the game has to be a benefit,” he said. “And it’s a chance for the guys to get together and compete during the winter.”
Usually the RDC players played some indoor soccer during the winter, but usually just practiced once a week.
“This is a big benefit,” said Colley. “Normally we practice once a week, but now with futsal everybody is into it and excited about the season. The girls are going into this wanting to win. You can see their natural competitiveness.”
Both RDC coaches expect at least six returnees next for next year’s outdoor season.
“I could have up to nine players back, plus we have a good group of recruits,” said Colley. “We have four or five local girls committed and five from outside the area. And there’s always one or two walk-ons. We’ll have 17 or 18 players who are at the level we like.”
Colley, who placed third in the ACAC last season, is also working on players two years down the road.
“We need to look that far ahead to get the quality of player we need to win in this league.”
Fullarton has already added one new face for next season in Alim Hirji of Calgary, who is playing with the futsal squad.
“We already have eight or nine new players committed and we’re talking with several others,” he said. ‘We’ll have five or six returning players.”
l The basketball squads play a home-and-home with St. Mary’s University College, playing Friday at RDC and Saturday in Calgary. Girls tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
The Kings, who are ranked No. 4 in Canada, will have their hands full with the Lightning, who split with SAIT last weekend. They have seven-foot centre Brett Roughead and one of the top scorers in the country in Randall Mosca, who is averaging 24 points per game.
l The volleyball squads are on the road playing a twin bill in Medicine Hat Friday and Saturday. The Kings, 14-0, are still ranked No. 1 in the country with the Queens seventh.
l The hockey Queens are off, but six players will compete for the ACAC All-stars in a pair of games against Team Alberta of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League — Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Win Sport Canada Arena at Canada Olympic Park.
Goaltender Camille Trautman was a unanimous selection to the ACAC team. Forwards Gillian Altheim, Rachael Hoppins and Laura Salomons and defencemen Nikki Connor and Natasha Steblin are also on the 22-member team.
l Trautman was a double award winner this week. She received the Boston Pizza RDC female athlete of the week award and was named the ACAC female athlete of the week. She posted her fourth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win at Grant MacEwan. She has a league-leading 1.50 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage.
Volleyball’s Amber Adolf and futsal’s Tara Berger were runners up for the award.
Volleyball’s Tim Finnigan, who was player of the match in both wins over SAIT, received the top male award. Finnigan had 33 kills, four aces, 16 digs and four stuff blocks in the two matches.