Published On: October 23, 2017 08:19 AM NPT By: Kiran Lama

Futsal: A Growing Craze in Kathmandu

Futsal: A Growing Craze in Kathmandu

KATHMANDU, Oct 23: Nepalis have always been avid fans of football and the fandom can be visible with jam-packed stadiums during international matches held here. Football is loved by people of all ages. Some are passionate about playing the sport, while others simply enjoy the matches by other teams. 

Earlier, people used to play football in open meadows with balls made of old socks. Although Nepalis did gradually have an easy access to proper soccer balls, the lack of space emerged as another challenge, especially in Kathmandu. The ever increasing urbanization has narrowed down the capital city and turned it into a concrete jungle. 

The lack of space eventually gave birth to various futsal arenas in the city. Futsal is a fast-paced small sided indoor football game that is widely played across the world and is officially recognized by both UEFA and FIFA.  The nature of the game places a large emphasis on technical skills and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game. 

Catering to the public demand for a space to play football, numerous futsal arenas have mushroomed in the Kathmandu Valley in the last decade. The five-a-side soccer, with three to four substitutes, has become a trending sport inside the valley in the recent years. Futsal became an instant hit among Nepalis as it can be played in all weather conditions and also during night time. 
The history of futsal dates back to 1930 and it was developed by Juan Carlos Ceriani in Uruguay. It is played in artificial turf under a roof. 

Recently, Nepal participated in the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 qualifiers from October 13-22 in Iran. So the indoor sport is no longer limited to being a hobby, but carries growing potential to become an industry in the near future. Mani Kumar Lama, one of the players in the national futsal team, said, “I loved playing football since I was young, but I couldn’t give much time to the sport in my early days. However, I can play football whenever I want now because we have many futsal arenas in Kathmandu. The availability of such a space has given a push to my passion and helped me enjoy the game whenever I like.”

According to Mani, the futsal arenas have also given exposure to many underdog players as at least one to two futsal tournaments are organized every week. He added that the future of football players was bright in Nepal with the availability of futsal arenas. 

Red Bull Futsal League is another big futsal tournament that is held annually. The league helps in promote futsal on a profession level. Moreover, there are more than 38 futsal arenas inside the Kathmandu Valley and 14 in Pokhara, informed Dipendra Rasaili, one of the board members of Nepal Futsal Asociation. He said the organization was also planning to organize an annual fustal league to encourage aspiring players. 

Dipendra added that corporate houses should come hand-in-hand with fustal associations to develop the sport in the country. 

“Though all futsal arenas in Kathmandu have artificial turf, Swoyambhu Recration Center is the only place that has an international futsal court in Nepal,” said Tharchin Gurung, one the owners of Swoyambhu Recration Center. He added, “Not only youngsters, but adults with nine to five work schedule come to play here. Mostly those with regular jobs come at our futsal to unwind and enjoy.” His futsal arena is open seven days a week and it costs Rs 1,2OO an hour during day and Rs 1,500 per hour during night. 

Kiran Basnet, shareholder of Dhuku Fustal in Maharajgunj, said football is one of the most liked sports across the globe. “The lack of space and increasing busyness are the main reasons for such rapid opening of futsals.” Inexpensive price, indoor facility and group effort are some of the main features of futsal.  

The game requires less time and effort so it is preferred mostly by those that hold a busy schedule but still want to play football. Futsal is also a perfect exercise for people of all ages. Lecturer of Rural Development at NIMS College, BM Acharya, said, “I couldn’t give much time to my morning exercise because I have classes. Therefore, I have been playing futsal for the past three years to maintain my health.” He said the sport was entertaining and also a window to escape from the usual busy schedule. 

futsal, growing, craze, kathmandu,

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