Powell competes in South America on U.S. 16-U futsal team
Grace Powell is a soccer player. She plays at the high school level for Pinewood Prep, and for the Arsenal team at James Island Youth Soccer club in the Region III Premier League.
But when Powell, a Daniel Island resident, writes an essay on how she spent her summer, it won’t be about soccer. The topic will be about futsal.
She played for the U.S. 16-U futsal team that traveled to Medellin, Colombia over the summer to compete in some international friendlies, and the trip was well worth it. She helped the Red, White and Blue to a 3-0 record as the team’s keeper. She allowed only one goal in the tourney and earned the goalkeeping award for all the American teams that competed in the event. She also tallied a goal.
So, what exactly is futsal?
It is a variant of soccer played on a smaller field and mainly indoors. Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, and unlimited substitutions are permitted.
Unlike some other forms of indoor soccer, the game is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular soccer ball because the surface of the field.
The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.
“It’s a lot different, a lot faster than regular soccer,” Powell said. “It’s like a mix of soccer and basketball. You’re more involved since it’s a smaller court. It really helps you improve your reflexes.”
The U.S. teams stayed in Medellin, one of three cities that will host the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup. The trip included one day of training and one day of team-building adventure prior to the three match days, plus a gap day for rest and local sightseeing.
“It was amazing,” Powell said of the trip. “It was a lot of fun to play with other people who know the game well. The experience for me as a player, personally, was great. I got to experience a different culture and got to play a different position. After the game, the sportsmanship was great. I had the opportunity to learn more about the game from an international perspective. It’s a lot different than soccer, but it’s still amazing.”
United States Youth Futsal is the largest U.S. soccer affiliated futsal organization in the country. Launched in 2004, U.S. Youth Futsal oversees more than 90 local leagues across the country, sanctions eight regional championships and a national championship. USYF is the leader in Futsal player development and Futsal coaching education by offering the Futsal I.D. program and the U.S. Youth Futsal National Teams.
Powell trains locally with coach Kevin Jackson at Elite Futsal Charleston and plays for Pinewood Prep, which is located in Summerville.
“Pinewood Prep has been a great experience,” said Powell, who is a sophomore. “I played varsity last year and we made it to the first round (of the playoffs.) It was a little disappointing, but it was a great experience. I got to play with 10 seniors.”
And this summer, Powell got to play with – and against -- some of the best players in the world.