From Adidas cleats to Vans slip-ons, all shoes are welcome on the futsal turf. All players are welcome, too, from Goshen College athletes to high school students and community members who love the game.With outdoor soccer fields under a layer of snow, the turf room in the GC Recreation-Fitness Center has become a gathering spot for soccer enthusiasts.
“We are really trying to invite literally everyone to come play,” said Cormac Koop Liechty, a first-year who is one of the lead organizers for the group. “We know that it’s a lot of fun, and the amount of fun doesn’t depend on how good you are.”
Almost every weeknight, 15 to 30 players meet to get some exercise, improve their soccer skills and engage in friendly competition. The dates and times are mainly organized through a Snapchat group chat consisting of about 50 people, Koop Liechty said.
The game of futsal is similar to soccer, but with a smaller playing area and smaller goals. “The ball also weighs more,” said Koop Liechty. “Because of the weight, the ball will bounce less [and be] easier to control.”
The group prides itself on its diversity.
“There’s a decent amount of the actual women’s and men’s soccer teams,” Koop Liechty said. “But there’s also just a variety of people from other sports — track, cross-country, tennis — a great variety of players, men and women both.”
Futsal is open to anyone in the area — not just GC students.
Juliana Chupp, an assistant soccer coach for the women’s and men’s soccer teams, comes to play two or three times a week. She said that even though she’s on the athletic staff, she enjoys playing “a sport [she] loves … with not just athletes.”
Chupp also praised the “warm and positive environment” where people love talking about their favorite teams and wearing jerseys from their hometowns. She described how futsal helps to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes by uniting their passion for the game and “taking time to play the sport they love.”
Jordan Ross Richer, a junior at Bethany Christian High School, enjoys playing with the group. “I like going because it’s a fun environment with all the Brazilians, and it’s competitive but it’s a fun competitive.”
Koop Liechty and Carlos Soto, two of the group’s leaders, got to know each other through pick-up soccer games at Pringle Park in Goshen this summer. They enjoyed playing casually and wanted to continue even as it got colder outside.
For Soto, who is a commuter student, the games provide a way to connect with the rest of campus.
“There’s been a couple times when all of the benches were full and other people were outside watching us, too,” Soto said. “A lot of guys don’t have soccer shoes; they bring whatever they have.”
Elyse Burton, who participates regularly, enjoys the chance to get to know people she wouldn’t have met otherwise.
As futsal’s popularity grows, the leaders hope the group can expand in scope, as well. They are working to create a club that could provide some funding for equipment. Dan Koop Liechty, director of alumni engagement and Cormac’s father, said he would be “happy to help as a faculty advisor” if students wanted to form an official club.
In the meantime, all are welcome to stop by the RFC and jump into a game. Those who do are welcomed into a passionate community, regardless of the brand of their shoes.