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Gym-friendly version of soccer making progress at Alberta colleges

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BY JOHN SHORT, EDMONTON SUN

Colombian standout Jonatton Cordoba fights off a Lakeland Rustlers challenge on his way to a 7-2 victory for the Keyano Huskies in ACAC futsal finals. Cordoba was named ACAC futsal player of the year and teammate Rodrigo Koebsch was tournament MVP. The women’s championship was won by the Medicine Hat Rattlers. (Keyano College)

EDMONTON – Years ago, FIFA, the ruling body of all things soccer, turned its back on the indoor game that had been made popular by professional teams and leagues all over the compass.

Instead, FIFA opted to support futsal, which operates without the high boards essential to recognized indoor soccer and can be played in gyms and recreation centres on hard surfaces large enough to accommodate basketball.

In many places, including Alberta colleges, futsal has made slow and steady progress. Last weekend, students and faculty at Keyano College made plenty of noise as the male Huskies won their second consecutive ACAC title.

“It’s a fast game that requires conditioning and a good level of skill,” said Wade Kolmel, Keyano’s director of sport and wellness. “I support futsal. I believe the sport would be valuable for many other organizations.”

Kolmel’s words fit nicely with comments from Francois Fournier, the Grande Prairie Wolves athletic director who doubles as president of ACAC athletics. He sees the growth of futsal as a symptom of continuing development within the 17-member provincial body. One advantage of the indoor game: it also enables competing schools to recruit athletes for the fall outdoor season.

“It’s much less expensive for schools that choose to operate only the one-semester sport,” Fournier said. Agreement for his point of view came from Keyano men’s coach Connor Brady, pleased to explain that his two teams – indoor and outdoor – have two Colombians and three Brazilians on the roster. “Some of these kids have become Canadian citizens,” he said.

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