Christopher Banos played with the 2010 US Youth Futsal Team in France over winter break last year, when his team competed against other national boys’ futsal teams and won all four of its games.
Though it’s similar to soccer, futsal is smaller in scale. It is a team of five versus five, four players and one goalie per side, and is played on an indoor basketball court.
“The court is a lot smaller, you have to get rid of the ball quicker,” explained Banos.
The 13-year-old’s father – athletic director at Haddonfield Memorial High School – elaborated on that.
“If you play soccer at a high level, you’re playing futsal, or if you want to play soccer as a youth at a high level, you need to make futsal as part of your repertoire,” Lefteris Banos advised.
” … It’s a sport played heavily internationally as part of the overall soccer development of young athletes,” he added. “For example, in high-developed soccer countries in the world, like Brazil, kids don’t play 11 to 11 soccer, they play 5 vs 5 all the way up growing up.”
Because the futsal ball is heavier and smaller, it doesn’t bounce as much as a soccer ball would, meaning the game is faster and players need to make quick decisions.
Christopher has been playing futsal since 2019, when his mom signed him up for the training program. It was during COVID in Florida that he really developed an interest in the sport, a popular one in that state. Christopher then played on Florida futsal teams, including Guachipo and the Florida Crushers, and attended the Major League Soccer Academy Youth 12 for a year-and-a-half before returning to Haddonfield.
Last July, Christopher went to Kansas with one of his Florida futsal teams to compete in a national tournament. He stayed there afterward and tried out for the US Youth National Team, competing against hundreds of others in the national futsal club. Christopher was also one of 12 boys selected to represent the 2010 US Futsal team in the international competitions last December.
“We won all of our games,” he recalled, “and it was just cool to represent the country. I really enjoyed the bonding time. We got to hang out with some of our team and the training was fun as well.”
The team arrived at the competitions on Dec. 27 and stayed until Jan. 4, partaking in bonding and cultural activities and travel in France. Today, Christopher’s primary focus is soccer, which he’s played in the last three years.
But futsal remains an active part of his soccer life, which is why he continues to sharpen his skills with the Real Jersey Football Club in Medford and the Pro Skills Futsal team in South Jersey.