The lack of grass and high temperatures in the United Arab Emirates means futsal may emerge as a favorite sport in the country.
Futsal, predominantly played indoors, is a variation of football that has made for a faster, more skilled version of the sport.
The UAE has recently been promoting futsal. In 2010, the UAE held its first national futsal league featuring 11 teams.
Three years later, the league has 12 teams and Dubai held the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Futsal Championship, which featured the UAE’s recently formed national team.
The sport uses a smaller ball and is played five-a-side, with halves of just twenty minutes, making it a fast-paced, highly energetic game.
The reduction in ball size reduces bounce by 30 percent, allowing the game to be played mainly on the floor.
Futsal could be an attractive alternative to football in the UAE for fans and players alike, with the heat and humidity making outside matches unbearable.
Brazil’s Falcao, hailed as the world’s most successful futsal player, recently visited Dubai to see the UAE’s youth talent, Dubai-based Gulf News reported.
“It is my desire to come here and do something more organized like a clinic for players, especially the young ones, as futsal plays a crucial role in developing future footballers,” he told the website.
“People call me the best and this is a good feeling,” he said. “But along with the title comes the responsibility of doing everything possible for the spread of futsal anywhere I go.”
As a 13-year-old, Portuguese player Ricardo Felipe da Silva Braga, or Ricardinho, began to play futsal after seeing the stars, such as Falcao.
“The normal thinking has been to have players involved in futsal once they are 18 or 19 years so that they assimilate a separate level of skills from playing futsal.” Ricardinho said to Gulf News.
“This is no longer true. We need children getting involved with futsal when they are 11 or 12 years old.”
Ricardinho, also known as ‘The Magician’ went on to say, “Support like this should not be lost,” he said. “Futsal needs this sort of backing. I would be willing to help any time.”
Both players are convinced that the UAE has all the ingredients for Futsal popularity to grow in the UAE, according to the website.