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How Corinthians is using futsal as a stepping stone in player development

This October, Corinthians Futsal played against Marreco Futsal in an electrifying game. The game took place in the Ginasio Poliesportivo Wlamir Marques, in Sao Paulo (Brazil). With a venue capacity for approximately 6,500 supporters, thousands of fans crowded the stands.

Fans arrived three hours before the game, anxious for the match. While the big gates were still closed, people gathered outside, talking about their expectations for the game. Corinthians lost the last quarterfinal game against Marreco in Francisco Beltrao, Marreco’s city. Corinthians wouldn’t let Marreco go to the semifinals easily.

Fans were full of emotions. As the game was in the Corinthians club, most supporters outside wore the team’s shirts. They talked not only about futsal, but also other sports that Corinthians is present. There were also some Marreco fans waiting for the gates to open. The dinner of the night was hotdogs and French fries sold in the stands in front of the gymnasium.

After the gates opened, the public settled on the bleachers. People were really excited for the beginning of the game. Fans sang the team’s songs, kids ran around the court, parents went to the cafeteria to buy coxinhas (a popular food in Brazil consisting of chopped chicken meat, covered in dough, battered and fried), esfihas (a pie-like dish originating from Lebanon and common in Brazil, normally open-faced with various toppings as cheese, beef and vegetables) and potato chips.

12-year-old fan Matheus is a great supporter of Corinthians and has attended many games.  His opinion about the match was positive, “This is a difficult game for Corinthians, but the athletes are playing very well. I hope Corinthians win this night.”

Matheus echoed the wish of hundreds of fans around the court.

When players entered the court to warm up, fans were fascinated and you could see the glint in the children’s eyes. The Corinthians team really tries to get the kids closer to professional athletes. Players enter the court definitely for the game accompanied by the children of the club, holding hands.

The professional athletes did not mind stopping for a few seconds to take pictures with the fans who admired them behind the net. During the interval of the match, some young players were called to make a penalty shoot-out and feel like the professional ones of the night.

Corinthians does this for a very specific reason. According to Edson Sesma, futsal manager for Corinthians, the sport is a tool for a child or youth improve their abilities, movements, self-knowledge and dynamism.

“Quick thinking, taking several actions and a lot of contact with the ball are three concepts present in futsal that are very important in the growth of the child,” Sesma reflects.

At the end of the night, Marreco eliminated Corinthians from Liga Nacional de Futsal. The result was Corinthians 4 (0) x (1) 3 Marreco. Although Marreco would still lose in the semifinals for Assoeva, it was a game full of emotions, attacks and counterattacks that players from both teams did their best to amuse people watching them.

Goals were scored by Matheus, Douglas Nunes and Douglas, for Corinthians. Suelton, Emerson, Fabiano Assad and Barbosinha scored for Marreco.

Vander Carioca, Corinthians Futsal pivot, is now 41 years old. He started playing futsal with the age of 7. It is more than 30 years of futsal. For him, futsal is a new type of education, outside classrooms. “It’s a life of futsal, a sport that gave me everything”, said Carioca.

This is the objective of Corinthians Club and USA Futsal.

Regardless the outcome of the match, Corinthians’ Futsal team is increasingly prepared for the futsal world. They have ten male teams and four female teams and as Sesma says, “it is no longer just a modality, but a great sports project.”

Corinthians as an organization tries to integrate the sports practiced inside the club and also the junior players, professional athletes and fans. Their style of play is very well received by other teams, especially futsal fans.

Futsal is one of the sports that is conquering the world. It can be practiced in small places, such as indoor courts, and it is attractive and feasible for any age. In Brazil, futsal is accompanied by people who like soccer a lot. In a country that is mono-sport, having a sport that is very similar in the way that football is played is very important in order to give more voice to sports that receive less attention from the public and the mainstream media.

“Futsal stands out both commercially and sportily,” Sesma affirms. “Commercially because of the way a game attracts all audiences and sportily because it is a great partner in the training of athletes for football”.

Futsal is especially important at the youth level to establish and develop co-working skills and quick thinking.

Corinthians’ players are a prime example of this development. Despite the defeat,  players will keep their heads up and bring their best to their next matches and championships.