Long Island gets a real, honest for goodness futsal facility of its own

By Michael Lewis

The first futsal-specific facility on Long Island is alive and kicking in Massapequa, N.Y.

Opened on Jan. 15, the Players Futsal Academy is offering players -- young and old -- an opportunity to play the sport year-round, rain, shine or snow.

The facility boasts three professional-standard fields with standard futsal surfaces.

"I want it to be a place where footballers want to play, this is where they want to train," PFA director Paul Riley said.

Riley recalled how the Players Futsal Academy came to be.

"When the U.S. failed in the World Cup, everybody starts looking and you look under every rock to see what happened," he said. "Some believe we use too much technology. Some people say we don't use enough. Some will say we don't have the players. Some will say it's the culture. Some will say it's lack of futsal. We heard futsal brought up a lot. We don't do it enough in our development plans. Brazil does it, Spain does it. Why don't we do it? I said, 'Long Island doesn't have a futsal facility. Let's do futsal.'"

Which they did.

So, the first priority was finding a facility that could house a few standard-size fields.

"We were looking at top places all over Long Island, places where our kids could play," Riley said. "Then we started thinking, 'Why do we keep taking them to gyms and other people's places?' It wasn't proper futsal. Some of it was on turf, some of it was in school gyms, that were closed if it snows. We just felt it was time. We got lucky. We found a place."

The facility was built within a mere few weeks and has become a hub for Albertson Fury and FC Fury teams to keep fit and their skills up during the winter.

Players have given the PFA a big thumb's up.

"It's beautiful," Alicia D'Aoust of FC Fury, who will attend Rutgers University this fall. "I have never seen one this nice before. I've played on hardwood floors. Apparently, they said these are shock-absorbent so you're not banging on the floors as much as you normally would."

"I love futsal," said Fordham University-bound Marissa Stanco, a member of the Albertson Fury. "It's different than being on a full field. It's more individual type skills which I need to work on for my game."

In fact, two teams already have won two regional championships -- the U.S. Youth Futsal Atlantic Regional Under-14 and U-16 girls tournaments.

"Our teams are good, they're really good," Riley said.

While other venues might be multi-sport facilities, the PFA is concerned with only futsal -- at least for one.

"We didn't put volleyball down. We didn't put lacrosse down. We didn't do anything. We put futsal only lines," Riley said. "We bought futsal-only balls and we made it a futsal-only facility. Maybe in a year we'll change our minds on it, but I wanted to give it a shot with everything we've got and playing futsal. It's making a big impact on the U.S. game. I think you'll see a professional futsal league on the women's side within the next two years and I think you'll see it on the men's side. I think it's going to be bigger than indoor soccer. I would love to have a stadium field, where it would hold 2,000 people."

As opposed to other venues that host futsal matches -- high school and college gymnasiums that have wooden floors, for example -- the PFA uses the recommended surface by the U.S. Futsal Federation.

"It's got a little bit more shock absorption," Riley said. "I've played on it a bit and I feel great after it. That's a pretty cushiony surface."

Games and training sessions are scheduled for every night of the week.

It has been a learning experience for everyone -- from players to coaches to even the boss.

"We play the actual futsal rules and we show them how to rotate on the field," Riley said. "I've learned a lot, too. I'm learning every day because we've got futsal guys teaching them and they're really good."

The PFA also has some unique frills. There is a match analysis room where players can review their training regimen and game participation with some of the most modern technology.

"They got the complete thing," Riley said. "No club is doing that. Once you see the match analysis, they're going to get the ability to go there at any time and look at their clips. Some of these kids stay for three hours just to play. It's like a home away from home."

Riley has some big plans for the facility. He wants to host a regional tournament. He plans to hold futsalĀ  coaches' clinics and skill clinics for the players and ID clinics as well.

"I want it to be a futsal place," he said. "There is no other one in New York, never mind Long Island."

 

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