Ohio is Now the Futsal Capital Thanks to Columbus Futsal Club and Futsal Copa North America

By April 8, 2017Futsal

Columbus Futsal Club is an organization on the rise, a club that teaches its players to “play how the rest of the world plays.” The result is a progressive program that is setting the standard for the sport of futsal in the Midwest.

Photo Credit: Studio 79 Photography – Sameh Fahmi

The man leading the way is CEO/Owner Dante Garcia, who also heads up the club’s youth development program.

The club has experienced great success over the past year, dominating competition as the 2016 USYF Great Lakes Regional Champions (Men’s), 2016 USFF Midwest Regional Finalist (Men’s), 2016 USAF Nationals Semifinalist (Men’s), 2017 USYF Great Lakes Regional Champions (U9 Boys), and 2017 USFF Midwest Regional Champions (Men’s).  Their U9 Boys even finished fourth place at the 2017 USYF Nationals, proving to be one of the top youth teams in the country.

Some players were even fortunate enough to participate in the USA Futsal World Futsal Championship and the 2016 Major League Futsal (MLF) season while on loan.  The next stop is the Futsal Copa North America, a tournament that is being billed as one of the top futsal events to ever take place on American soil.

Garcia and the entire Columbus Futsal Club are ready for the challenge this event offers.

“A very important goal of ours has been to provide the highest level of futsal to our city and fans. Columbus isn’t too far from Cleveland so we hope to bring a strong supporter following. Futsal Copa North America is something they won’t want to miss and what a great weekend to welcome new futsal fans as well. We hope that by competing we can accomplish a few things, allowing people to see futsal played in its purest form, to help promote the sport itself, and we also hope to win and bring this wonderful title back to Columbus, Ohio and have fun in the process.”

Competing in the Futsal Copa North America was a no brainer, according to Garcia.  It’s an event that will serve a number of purposes, raising the profile of a club that is already on the move.

“We are truly hoping to make an impact in the futsal world and this without a doubt is the perfect opportunity. It would be silly to turn down the offer to play at this level and compete against the very best in North America. We know how important this competition is not only for our club but for the overall growth of futsal here. We are excited to meet players and coaches from teams we have not competed with before so it should be a good networking event as well. This is a very important event for our youth academy to see and set goals for their playing potential.”

Photo Credit: Studio 79 Photography – Sameh Fahmi

Garcia also noted that the quality should be very high.

“We are very excited and happy to be a part of this competition. This will be a real test to see where we stand amongst the best teams in North America. The club is very much looking forward to competing against Toronto United and Safira Soccer; both teams have great reputations! As for the stiffest competition, it will be interesting to find out.  There is always that one team that comes out of nowhere and wins it all. I have much respect for everyone participating, can’t wait to get to Cleveland!”

Organizer Otto Orf agrees that this will be a very special event and has set high expectations for what fans should see.

“The competition will be the highest professional competition in the U.S. or Canada to date. The Canadian Champions and American Champions will both be here with a very strong team coming in from the Caribbean. ABK from Grand Rapids has one of the most comprehensive futsal academies for youth and professionals and Columbus Futsal are the reigning Great Lakes Regional Champions.  The officials at this tournament are the very highest quality and the largest gathering of FIFA futsal officials at any men’s or youth futsal tournament ever held in the U.S.”

Columbus is expected to shine at the event as they are absolutely loaded with talent and it all starts with captain Junyor Zanelatto, someone who is described as a “major staple to futsal.” He’s a natural leader with great passion and focus, a player who won many titles as a pro in Brazil.  Now a member of the academy coaching staff, he is someone who can make a difference as a player, coach, and mentor.

Zak Boggs, a former USL, NASL, and MLS standout from Parkersburg, WV, is another player to watch.  He is no stranger to the futsal scene, scoring 34 goals in 10 games for U of Leicester Futsal in the FA National League while on a Fulbright Scholarship back in 2013.  The duo of Junyor and Boggs could easily be the top pairing at next weekend’s event.     

Those attending Futsal Copa North America will be treated to exciting soccer and futsal played the right way.  Hardcore and even casual fans should enjoy what they see on Easter weekend.

“Our team’s style of play is very patient, very passionate,” Garcia continued. “It resonates a certain kind of futsal fluidity and finesse which makes it very attractive to watch. We look to defend well, out pass teams and we hope to create havoc for our opponents with very fast and effective counter attacking plays. Should be an amazing two days of futsal.”

Photo Credit: Studio 79 Photography – Sameh Fahmi

This event will be a showpiece for a club that has grown exponentially over a short period of time.  The club started in 2006, playing pickup street soccer or urban futsal in the park and it has been growing ever since. Their men’s professional team just came together in 2015.  They operate Columbus Futsal & Street Soccer Academy and the Columbus Futsal League year-round. Through the youth academy, they train competitive teams for boys and girls U8-U18. These teams compete both locally and regionally.

Through state ID trials, they had four players from their academy receive invitations to try out for the U.S. Youth Futsal National Teams. They also offer a program for five and six-year-olds called “Start Smart Futsal” in a movement to get more players started out on futsal rather than outdoor soccer to better the development of players coming out of Columbus. And they have and always will have pick-up play for street soccer from spring to fall, which is no cost to the kids. This is part of an effort to get them to coordinate with friends or others in the park and spontaneously start their own games in urban settings around the city.

As you can see this club is completely dedicated to player development in Central Ohio and the Greater Columbus Area and they have something to offer everyone regardless of age.

Columbus Futsal Club has set an example of success and growth for others to follow and are growing the sport of futsal as a result.  That’s why they deserve to be called an organization on the rise and why they are one of the favorites to take home hardware at Futsal Copa North America in Cleveland next weekend.