The transition to Futsal can be difficult for a Football referee.
Some of the major changes that referees face include:
- Higher mental awareness of technical offences
- Positioning system of control
- Altered foul threshold
- Communication with referee crew
This is a lot to take in despite a lot of experience on a football pitch. Let’s focus on just one difficulty; adjusting to fouls.
Football is a lot more physical than Futsal and for a specific reason. Football is a game of space with just over 7000 square metres, 22 players and one ball. Attacking flow, long balls and physical challenges make for an entertaining game.
Futsal, on the other hand, with only 800 square metres and 10 players leaves a much lower average amount of space that a player has. With less space and out-of-bounds, players have to keep the ball closer to their feet when dribbling to ensure it doesn’t escape. In order to do this, they must keep a lower centre of gravity and every move is with a purpose often exerting more energy from the core than a footballer would dribbling the ball across open space. It’s crucial to understand this to understand what can disrupt the flow of a team’s attack or player’s possession of the ball unfairly.
A lower centre of gravity means that touches/contact in that area (even with low intensity/force) can have a severe impact on the stability and balance of the player in possession and sometimes a light tap on the ankle is all it takes to lose the ball. This can easily be understood in the mind of a Futsal player by playing the sport!
Players that come from football into Futsal for the first time are often subjected to a shock in this culture. Shoulder charging doesn’t quite work. It’s a game where interceptions and deftly stealing the ball is required to get the ball back from your opponents. Common scenarios include teams reaching five accumulated fouls very quickly and being subjected to the 10m mark kick. It’s a realisation they must come to understand that they just can’t play in the same way.
Fouls as a result become much more tactical in nature and allow for a fast, flowing game.