Futsal is the new football
Who needs football when you've got Futsal. It is the poor man's version of the sport in which there are 5 players per team.
Pakistan is a poor country and one of the primary reasons for the lack of growth in football is the unavailability of resources and facilities. Most of the grounds are mud grounds and in a terrible state. This has kept many people away from football as they are unwilling to play on these grounds.
In recent times 'futsal' has seen tremendous growth in Pakistan. The primary reason being that various locations are available for playing it. Futsal is a smaller version of football in which there are five players per team and the field is approximately the size of a basket ball courts. Futsal is played on a hard court.
Most schools in Pakistan do not have a large field and so do not offer football as a school sport. However, most schools usually have a basketball court and have begun using these courts for futsal as well. This has resulted in a rapid growth in the popularity of futsal primarily in affluent areas. Hundreds of futsal teams have sprung up in the last year.
The number of futsal tournaments has also grown substantially. Karachi alone plays host to 4-5 futsal tournaments in a month with prize money of more then Rs15,000. The only problem with these tournaments is that the entry fees is usually around RS2,500 limiting the growth primarily to more affluent areas.
Futsal can be played almost anywhere and could easily take Pakistani football to the next level. However, the lack of an official association or organisation promoting the sport is one of the primary reasons for its growth being limited . Futsal has been ignored time and time again by the PFF. Only recently, the PFF announced that they were going to start working on beach football even though they should start working on futsal which already has its foundations laid.
Futsal has also seen a lot of growth in popularity around the world. Many of the worlds top footballers are products of futsal which requires much more speed, concentration and much higher levels of skill. Another benefit Pakistan may get from futsal growth is that a smaller number of players are needed in a squad and the game is much less competitive as compared to football in which other countries have a much larger head start.
While Pakistan's hopes of achieving any success on the international footballing scene in the foreseeable future seem grim the future of futsal seems bright, that is if the PFF takes the initiative and starts working on it.
For those interested in participating in futsal events they should just search facebook for futsal tournaments and you should be able to find various events. sindhfootball.com is also a good place to find out about the latest upcoming futsal events.