Orlando, Florida - The 2021 Champions Cup Series (CCS) East Regionals kicked off this morning in Orlando, Florida. A total of 64 teams commenced the second edition of the youth futsal tournament series at Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando. The event welcomes 13 clubs from the Eastern Conference for a weekend of high-level competition craved by resilient supporters of the game.
Over the past 10 months, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has altered the youth sports landscape in the United States and abroad. For a brief period, futsal courts were empty and unused. As months passed, health restrictions continued to limit playing opportunities and forced some youth futsal clubs to find alternative homes for training.
“It was the first time in 10 years that we were forced to take a long break due to COVID,” said Sheila Quispe, Alianza Futsal President. “Since March, we have not been able to train at our main court facility, which was shut down and won’t reopen until the Spring. In December, we found a nice place to finally train once a week.”
As a result of limited competition, the development process for quality youth futsal players has hit a roadblock. Youth athletes are hungry for competition; however, COVID has kept motivated kids from progressing through match play.
“This team is extremely talented, but they don't have the exposure to competition,” said Tony Toral, New York Ecuador President and head coach. “That’s what the pandemic has done to us. Teams that could have been competing did not.”
Although many clubs fit into this category, others have persisted due to the private facility industry.
As stated in CCS club announcements, United Futsal has partnered with advocates of the sport that are truly committed to its development. During a period with limited playing opportunities, several CCS clubs benefited from owning training facilities.
“I own a facility so it is pretty much open for us,” said Guilherme Veiga, Cream City Futsal Director of Coaching. “Since outdoor soccer finished in November, we have trained twice a week with all the teams until now. Having the facility helps a lot. Other teams in town are struggling.”
“We had to tailor our program due to COVID,” said Kyle Wilson, High Soccer Prospects Co-Founder. “We separated players with certain timestamps for kids to come in and out during training. We have been lucky enough to have our own facility to do that. There are a lot of clubs that haven’t been able to operate because they don't have a facility. We have been very fortunate in that regard.”
These particular CCS clubs have remained on the courts in a limited capacity, which they ultimately acknowledge as an advantage for staying in form during the pandemic.
“The Chicago area was hit really hard with restrictions,” said Frank D'Angelo, Chicago Street Futsal Founder and Executive Director. “In the middle of COVID, we moved to another location that is bigger and newer. So we have still been able to train. It’s been tough, but we are still fairly prepared.”
Furthermore, the ability to host a high-quality tournament was possible due to the dedicated coaches and players in United Futsal’s CCS network. Although the pandemic has limited quality playing time, the following two days will surely make up for lost time.
“The players we brought are super competitive,” said D'Angelo. ”They are hungry because they have limited opportunities to compete. For these players, not much needs to be said in regard to preparation - they are ready.”
DiAngelo’s comment illustrates the type of competitors that attend United Futsal events. Competing at the highest level is not a casual occasion. It is a character trait that athletes pursue no matter the situation. Whether a club adapted to the circumstances of 2020 or utilized its already established resources, zealous supporters of the game figured out a way to return to the courts.
To kick off 2021, CCS East Regionals hosts aspiring youth futsal players for two days of electric competition. United Futsal looks forward to sharing the passion displayed in Orlando! Stay tuned for more updates.