Futsal is one of those hit-or-miss ideas that nobody thinks will succeed but surpasses everyone’s expectations. An innovative mix of the top ball sports, futsal went through many changes in its nearly 100-year existence. But, there’s no doubt that its governing bodies transformed the sport into a worldwide sensation.
Today, we’ll take a look at futsal’s fruitful history and its evolution over the years. And, as Aussies, we’ll also find out how the sport started out and became popular in Australia.
Origins of Futsal
Futsal’s history began in 1930. A young Argentinian living in Uruguay, Juan Carlos Ceriani, has a “Eureka” moment that set the foundation of the sport. Why not have a sport like soccer, but it’s played in basketball courts, and every team has five players? Considering that he was only 23 at the time, we’ll admit that this was a pretty cool idea from the man.
Soccer was already gaining popularity, with Argentina and Uruguay dominating the first World Cup in 1930. So, Ceriani decided to act upon his idea by making the first rule book in 1933. Over the next few years, the sport became a hit in just about every South American country.
But, there was a slight problem. Everyone could play futsal, which meant that the rules weren’t the same all around. That’s when the first changes started to appear.
How Futsal Changed Over the Years
Someone needed to create a set of rules that everyone would accept. Habib Maphuz and Luiz de Oliveira took the initiative and created the “Book of Rules of Futsal” in 1956. These rules would serve as the spark for the fire-like spread of futsal worldwide.
Paraguay held the first organised tournament nine years later, which gained the sport tons of media attention. The next decade or so was nothing more than a showcase of Brazil’s excellence in the sport, as they won every single tournament in South America.
The 1980s were the beginning of futsal’s expansion on a global level. The FIFUSA organised the first World Championship in 1982 and would later coin the term futsal for the sport. In 1989, FIFA wanted to take a piece of futsal’s pie, so they ran their own Futsal World Cup.
Futsal Around the World
From 1989 and on, FIFA and FIFUSA (later named AMF) ran separate championships. These came with slight differences in the rules and controversy between the two governing bodies.
But, the two bodies are still running world tournaments, with several countries taking part in them. What started as a sport in the poor neighbourhoods of Sao Paulo turned into a worldwide phenomenon in a few decades. World-renowned Brazilian soccer players like Pele, Zico, and Socrates started with futsal.
Only a few years after these legends had their breakthroughs from futsal, the sport came to our neck of the woods.
Futsal in Australia
The first indoor soccer match in Australia took place in 1970. But, the story of Australian futsal begins in 1971, thanks to Mrs. Dawn Gilligan. That year, with outdoor grounds closed because of rain and bad weather during winter, the first futsal game was played at the Revesby YMCA in Sydney. From then on, futsal spread to other YMCAs in the area.
In 1977, the Australian Indoor Soccer Association was founded. Two years later, they joined forces with FIFUSA and started playing by the original rules of fútbol sala, an old form of futsal.
In 1979, the Australian Indoor Soccer Association changed its name to the Australian Futsal Association, after FIFA started using the name futsal.
The sport hit its peak in 1988 when the FIFUSA World Cup took place in Melbourne. Since then, the Australian Futsal team has participated in most AMF and FIFA world tournaments. Futsal is now one of a very popular Aussie indoor sport, with several competitions and thousands of players all over the country.