Everything has been set for the indoor soccer club to take the field, but there is one problem: There are no opponents.The club is only a few weeks old, and early practices have been hampered due to scheduling conflicts with intramural basketball. Club founder and president Salina Klinghammer plans on getting things started as soon as possible, but the lack of opponents for the club has her worried.
“We have to create our own league because none of the other schools around the state have indoor soccer clubs,” said Klinghammer, a 21-year-old senior at USF. “It’s hard because we don’t even have any community leagues in the area.”
Indoor soccer, also known as futsal, isn’t new to the Tampa area. As recently as last summer, there was an indoor league that played at a facility on Lazy Lane, just west of Dale Mabry Highway.
After 12 years of operation, the league was disbanded and the facility shut down when the owner announced his retirement.
“That facility was huge for Tampa soccer players,” Klinghammer said. “There are other leagues in (St. Petersburg) and Clearwater, but it’s too far and too expensive. By starting the club, we can play here for free.”
Indoor soccer is played in 23-minute halves in the upper gym at the Campus Recreation Center. There are six players on each team. The pace of the game is quicker than regular soccer, due to the shortened field of play. The ball can’t be passed more than half the length of the field, which eliminates the practice of players clearing the ball from deep in their own territory by kicking it all the way down the field. The result is a faster-paced game with more accurate passing and higher scoring.
“There usually aren’t blowouts because the transition of the game goes a lot quicker,” said Desire Walsh, a freshman and member of the club team. “The shorter field makes you have more touches per player and quicker plays. The game is completely different from regular soccer.”
Funding is usually an issue for club sports, as such sports are not supported by the University. However, indoor soccer can be played for a fairly cheap price.
Each club member contributed $5 toward the purchase of goalposts, and they plan on using the whole gym for the field. People with a good knowledge of the game are being asked to volunteer as referees.
Klinghammer is encouraging people to join if they enjoy soccer, regardless of their previous experience.
“I’m opening it up to people who are just willing to learn,” she said. “We’re just looking for people who love soccer.”
According to club sport rules, the team can play anybody as long as they are over the age of 18 and sign a waiver, regardless of whether they are students. The club is recruiting opponents on and off campus by posting flyers that encourage people to organize teams with a minimum of two women.
The club meets Thursdays in the upper gym from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. In March, meetings on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will begin in addition to the Thursday meetings.
“Once we get some teams to play, we’ll have games during those times also,” Klinghammer said.
Since intramural soccer ended in the fall, the indoor club is a way for soccer enthusiasts to keep active and polish their skills.
“Soccer is a great game,” Walsh said. “When you move it indoors, then you don’t have to worry about rain or cold, so there are no complaints and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Teams interested in playing against the club team can schedule a game by contacting Klinghammer or attending a meeting prior to the date they want to play.