Futsal is the fastest growing sport in the United States and throughout the world. The demand for officials has not kept pace with the exponential growth of the sport.
Many players, coaches and referees find it to be more fun than soccer. It's fast, requires quick decisions and is great for fitness and development. The play is at a high level and even the weather is always great in the futsal facilities!
Futsal is an incredible tool for referee development. Here in the United States, most youth and amateur futsal matches are played on basketball courts or spaces slightly larger. The limited space and the speed of the game require officials to make immediate judgments in a relatively small space, all while maintaining the dual system of control (DSC) and recovering from one vantage point to the other (lead to trail). The DSC itself is a great tool for referee development as it requires a unique kind of teamwork. Referees visually confer from across the court on almost all decisions and must be in tune to ensure proper switching and coverage.
Futsal demands fitness. Whether an official is doing a U-10 or a Men's Division 1 game, the “need for speed” is always there. In futsal, the pressure is constant – time and space are extremely limited. For referees this means considering all the elements and making the determination in a single moment.
It also means that players are always within a distance to question every decision, which forces officials to become very adept at player management. There is a great art to anticipating what could happen and using one's voice and presence as a preventative tool. Futsal magnifies this, and some of the best officials in the country are those with the ability to keep the players calm.
The community of futsal officials here in Massachusetts is indeed a family. There are myriad of opportunities for growth. Instructors, assessors, assignors and veteran officials are regularly providing feedback. There are ample opportunities to work with experienced officials, which is also part of the formal training process for all new referees.
Massachusetts has hosted the US Youth Futsal Northeast Regional Championships each of the past three years, and has become a nationally recognized leader in the development of futsal officials. U.S. FIFA Futsal referees Shane Butler and Jason Krnac work with and train the local refs. National Instructor trainer Jeff Kohlmeyer has visited and FIFA Instructor Ed Marco will be coming in the future. 13 different Massachusetts' referees have been selected to represent the Commonwealth at the National Futsal Championships over the past six years.