Fast-paced sport much different than soccer

Red River Rebels women’s team at the opening ceremony of  the Canadian Grasslands Cup. SUPPLIED/Charles Doerksen

Red River Rebels women’s team at the opening ceremony of the Canadian Grasslands Cup. SUPPLIED/Charles Doerksen

In a culturally diverse city like Winnipeg, it’s not surprising that a diverse sports culture exists here as well. This culture goes beyond the four major North American sports (hockey, baseball, football and basketball) and extends to international sports.

Futsal is one of these sports. RRC has both men’s and women’s futsal teams. On November 22, the women’s side won the inaugural Canadian Grasslands Cup, a three-day tournament held at Canadian Mennonite University. They won 4-3 over the Brandon Bobcats in the final.

Emeraude Kwilu, a 21-year-old Electrical Engineering Technology student who was the tournament final MVP, thinks highly of this year’s women’s team.

“I think we have the best team,” said Kwilu. “This team is exceptional because of its extensive soccer background.”

Kwilu also attributes the team’s solid performance to their versatility.

“Each player can play at least 2 or 3 different positions,” she said.

The team’s adaptability is key for the Rebels to succeed this year, according to Doug Lawrie, 54. He is the coach of the women’s futsal team.

“The biggest challenge [in futsal] is the fluidity of play where all players must be prepared to play all positions,” said Lawrie.

Futsal is a variant of indoor soccer that is popular throughout the world. Internationally, Brazil dominates the sport to an even greater extent than they do at soccer. Since the first FIFA Futsal World Cup in 1989, Brazil has won five of the seven tournaments.

Despite its relative unpopularity here, some believe that futsal can grow in Canada. Lawrie thinks it is a far different game from soccer, and likens it to a more Canadian game. “Futsal is a very different sport than soccer,” said Lawrie. “Canadian spectators in particular would appreciate its similarities to hockey. These include the speed of the game, numerous offensive tactics, thunderous shooting, and skill in tight spaces.”

Kwilu agrees with her coach. The speed of the game makes it so much different than soccer.

“In soccer, sometimes you can cheat by not really giving your 100 per cent,” said Kwilu. “Players cannot afford to do this when playing futsal without it costing the team.”

There are currently no schedules for RRC’s futsal teams but the season should start in late January, according to Lawrie.