There’s a new game in town – literally – and a new place to play it.
A new futsal facility has opened inside Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center, at 4055 N. Chestnut Diagonal, taking over empty paintball grounds.
It’s like soccer, but different.
It was born in countries like Uruguay and Brazil, where soccer fans wanted to play, but only had an alley or street to play in, says Mel Williams, owner of Mellysport Futsal.
Those limitations shaped the game, which has five players per side and a smaller field. The sport focuses on passing, trapping and other skills, not on kicks that lob the ball to the other end of the field because of its limited size. The ball itself is a size 4, the one usually used in kids’ leagues and is weighted so it stays on the ground more than a typical soccer ball.
The sport is now sanctioned by FIFA, the international soccer governing body. Although people around here have been playing futsal for years, they often make do with tennis courts or other places that weren’t meant for playing futsal, Williams says.
Mellysport Futsal has an outdoor 11,500 square-foot field made of gray polyurethane with 20-foot high netting all around it.
Mellysport is a play on Williams’ first name used in the youth soccer camps he once organized. He played soccer at Hoover High School, Fresno City College and professionally for the New Mexico Chiles in Albuquerque.
Mellysports Futsal hosts several leagues with eight-week seasons, including adults (men’s and co-ed), age 8 and under, age 10 and under, age 12 and under and age 14 and under. A high school league will start in June for 15- to 18-year-olds.
The cost is $400 per youth team and $500 for adult teams, though teams participating in Mellysport’s first season get an $150 discount.
Details: 559-554-5684 or http://www.mellysportfutsal.com/.