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FIFA World Cup Fever

It’s that time of year again. The FIFA World Cup is a global phenomenon that has transfixed viewers for the last few weeks on televisions around the world, averaging over 26 million viewers globally. Nations competed country verses country to find out who is the world’s best team. Australia qualified by beating Peru in penalties, 5-4. In the group, Australia finished second behind France.

This is no mean feat considering France was ranked 4th in the world leading up to the tournament and Australia was ranked 38th!

World Cup History – The FIFA World Cup has been held in many different places around the world including Europe, Asia, and America, but this year was the first it was held in a Middle Eastern country. Sometimes controversy has enveloped the tournament, like for example in South Africa where accusations of corruption, as well as a historical legacy of slavery, cast shadow over the first ever time an African nation hosted the tournament. 

World Cup Qatar – This year there were also some controversies hosting the tournament in the Middle East for the first time. Although initially approved for sale, Qatar decided to ban the selling of alcohol at stadiums right before competition started. This was in particularly poor taste given the major sponsor, Budweiser, is an alcoholic beverage company. They in turn pulled their funding from the competition and donated a large portion of their consumer goods destined to the event.

There were also several incidents involving reporters being arrested or prevented from filming due to overzealous security personnel. This is despite the press having correct paperwork and credentials, so most likely some individuals abusing their power, and trying to set an example.

The Stars of the pitch – At Qatar this year viewers have been amazed by players such as Lionel Messi for Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, going head-to-head in exciting matches. Australia’s best players, goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, Midfielder Jackson Irvine, and scorer, Mathew Leckie, have impressed. The latter scored the only matches goal in a tight contest against Denmark.

Globally, soccer is a fun sport, and it is growing in popularity every year. It has been getting more popular in Australia as more high schools and universities get involved, and it is gender inclusive, and far less physical than some other grass sports such as rugby and AFL giving young girls a viable alternative.

If your school or club doesn’t have the space for a full-sized soccer pitch, there are lots of great options to invest in synthetic turf surfaces. Or another alternative for you to try is Futsal.

Futsal games played on a smaller field (about half the size or smaller) so games are fast paced with higher scoring. The game is more challenging because of this.

Teams are smaller too, five verses five, and the ball itself is a bit harder with less bounce. Futsal can be played indoors or out, so you can play when it’s raining or even if it’s too hot over Summer (especially if the stadium is air conditioned).

The fundamentals of the sport don’t change much outside of that, although no shoulder charges or sliding tackles are allowed. Futsal is a safe and fun introduction to Soccer, with many school kids getting involved both sports throughout their teens.

If you are keen to learn more, talk to your physical education teacher or school sports manager.