Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo
The Brazilian futsal association, which is part of the country’s football association and is responsible for running the sport in Brazil, describes futsal as “the only genuinely Brazilian sport”. This claim is certainly not without foundation. Although the sport was invented by Juan Carlos Ceriani in 1930, its first known set of rules were drafted by the Brazilian Asdrubal do Nascimiento in 1949. with more than 300,000 officially registered players in Brazil, futsal is not only a production line of footballing talent but a genuine hotbed of talented futsal players who play in the world’s most successful leagues. Brazil have won every futsal title open to them and only Spain have been able to challenge their global supremacy over the past six years, having twice prized the FIFA Futsal World Cup from their grasp.
In no other part of the world is the magic that can be worked with a ball more evident than when it is at the feet of Brazilian footballers. The grounding of various idols of the past such as Pele and Zico in futsal in futsal as a well-known fact, but many of today’s football stars also began their sporting career at a futsal club: Adriano, Belletti, Denilson, Fabio Rochemback, Juninho Pernambucano, Kaka and the illustrious Robinho, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho to name but a few. “I learned a lot of my moves from futsal. On small pitches greater control of the ball is required because there is less space. Futsal is a fundamental instrument for the technical development of young players,” says Ronaldinho.
Female Brazilian players are no different: of the twenty that took part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003, more than half first kicked a ball on a futsal pitch, namely Cristiane, Juliana, Nelly, Rosana, Simona, Tania, Milene and FIFA Women’s World Player Marta, who was crowned at last year’s gala in Zurich.
Today futsal even has its own stars, the most famous of whom – and a man who inspires extraordinary passion wherever he goes – is Alessandro Rosa Viera, better known as Falcao. In the first match of the 2004 World Championship against Australia, he ran several meters with the ball on his shoulder before passing it to Euler. The ball was then back-heeled to him by Pablo, whereupon he drilled in into the back of the net. Against Thailand, he passed the ball to himself by performing a two-heeled flick over the goalkeeper and then volleyed it home, using a trick known in Brazil as “the wheelbarrow”, which he has popularized. Javi Rodriguez, who is currently on the books of Barcelona’s futsal team, is one of the best-known sportsmen in Japan. Meanwhile, Colombia’s Pinilla, whom many have christened the new Falcao, is a player everyone will be talking about in the very near future …
What do players such as Ronaldinho and Falcao have in common apart from their apprenticeship in the world of futsal? On the one hand, their incredible technical ability, which enables them to control the ball with their feet in a way that the majority of us could not do with our hands; and on the other hand, their ability to enthrall the public with their impossible feints, swerves and vision. The Brazilians’ “jogo bonito” is largely rooted in their learning the game through playing futsal and it can be found in its purest form in the various futsal leagues in the fantastic and futsal-mad country of Brazil