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Paul Riley: Futsal should be added to U.S. Soccer Federation’s Development Curriculum

Paul Riley has played an integral part of youth soccer player development in the United States over the past couple decades. The North Carolina Courage Head Coach and Albertson Soccer Club Director of Coaching recently joined The SoccerWire Podcast to discuss his views on player development and how he helped grow Albertson to it’s elite youth soccer status.

+Episode 21 | Paul Riley – Youth Player Development, NWSL Coaching, and National Team Future

“We’re probably 2 or 3 years ahead of most clubs I think in terms of futsal but it’s been great for our players. I think it’s been huge…I go away [to coach NWSL in North Carolina] for 8 months and I come back and see some of the players and their footwork and the speed of play and their mindset and it’s just unbelievable to see – and I think futsal is a big responsibility for us,” said Riley, who took over as the Director of Coaching for Albertson Soccer in 2001. He continued on stating that Albertson teams “train once a week in a futsal facility – no matter what.”

Later on in the conversation, Riley begins breaking down where he feels U.S. Soccer is lacking in terms of player development, including not enough focus being on the actual training.

Riley says, “Futsal is a major piece that could be big for our country.” He explains further that “one of the reasons futsal is so good is because you have a lot of conflicts in the game and the question is how can you figure them out. In a regular game you’re playing 11v11, there’s not a ton of them, but when you’re playing 4v4, you’ve got an awful lot of conflicts scenarios, as well call them and you’ve got to make those decisions and if not, they’re constantly coming up.’How’d you get out of this trouble…do you dribble, do you flick it, do you pass it, do you open up, do you close up, do you disguise.” 

Futsal has proven to be a successful developmental tool for Riley at the helm of a successful and growing elite youth soccer club in Albertson Soccer. He closes by saying “I think futsal teaches the kids a lot of stuff. I would add that to whatever curriculum the [United States Soccer] federation is doing.”

Does your club use Futsal as a regular development tool? Do you think it helps if so? Is its use growing or shrinking in your area?

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