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King George kids get a kick out of futsal

Thanks to the efforts of chiropractic specialist Dr. Shawn Pallotti, the sport of futsal has been revived in King George.
An avid sports enthusiast, Pallotti is a firm believer in commitment. Whether it was his King George Parks & Recreation soccer team that dominated their league for two consecutive seasons with only one loss, or his current push for the development of the Futsal Academy, he is determined to make Futsal a success.
“When I started the Futsal Academy, some prominent people who are knowledgeable about soccer asked me, where are the games?” Pallotti said. “I told them there are not going to be any games, this is futsal.  If it’s good enough for the Brazilians for all those years, it should be good enough for us.”


With 18 players, ages 10-14 on the Futsal Academy roster, it’s apparent that the sport has caught on in King George.
Beginning Oct. 2, the Futsal Academy will compete once a month against teams from Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, Richmond, and area travel teams. The home court for the Futsal Academy is the King George Family YMCA. Pallotti also plans to spice up the players’ competitive edge by featuring a “King of Futsal” tournament, where the winning team will receive a trophy cup.
The origin of futsal began in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930, when Juan Carlos Ceriani invented a five-sided version of soccer for youth competition, in association with the YMCA.
While there are some distinct similarities to soccer, there are some equally distinct differences. For instance, in futsal the ball is kicked in, rather than thrown in by the goalie. The game is played on a basketball-sized court. Teams consist of five players, including the goalie — and players have no set position, such as forwards, midfielders, stoppers, sweepers and fullbacks. Rather than physically subdue an oncoming opponent from the ball by the use of their body, futsal players use a finesse tactic to out-maneuver their rival. Lastly, and most importantly, the ball used for futsal is much smaller than a soccer ball — and heavier without the benefit of bouncing.
Legendary soccer players such Pele and Zico grew up playing futsal, crediting the sport for their development. According the Pallotti, futsal is a great skill-developer, with an emphasis on quick reflexes, fast thinking, and pinpoint passing.
“In out Futsal Academy, the child will touch the ball at least 1,000 times the first hour,” Pallotti said.
Pallotti is consummate believer in 10,000 hour rule emphasized in the book by Malcolm Gladwell, “Outliers.” According to the book, in order to be a master at something, you have to spend at least 10,000 hours doing it.
“At 10,000 hours, you’re asking a child to train 20 hours a week, for 10 years, and if you have a full time job, 40 hours a week, for five years,” Pallotti said.
In light of the success that the United States enjoyed making the final 16 of the World Cup Championships, it would seem that the 10,000 hour rule on some levels has struck a cord with today’s American soccer community in their bid to catch up with the rest of the world.
Pallotti believes his formula for success on the Futsal courts will one day translate into productive soccer players with strong skill sets achieved through practice.
“Every child is doing 30 different drills that last a minute,” Pallotti said. Futsal drills includes: toe-taps, step-overs, drags, fountains. “Unless you get that muscle memory every single day, you can forget about getting on the field, and performing with the stress of people yelling at you — you’re not going to be able to intentionally do it.”
King George resident Roger Knicely has already begun to recruit players for a Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association (FASA), King George-based soccer team, ages 12 and under.
The biggest beneficiary of the Futsal Academy and Knicely’s FASA team will be the King George High School soccer program.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor

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