GREENFIELD — Shouts, giggles and cheers echo off the walls of the gymnasium as a dozen children wearing orange and green jerseys chase after the soccer ball skidding across the basketball court.
A little girl on the orange team sees a group of green players straight ahead, so she sprints to the ball as it rolls to a stop, skillfully kicking it against the wall, bouncing it around the opposing players right to one of her teammates.
It might seem like an unorthodox take on indoor soccer, but it gets the job done, said Greenfield Area Soccer Club president Michael Reeves.
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When the time comes for the lights to go dark over the soccer fields, many players pack up their equipment and head home. They don’t expect to lace up their cleats again until next season.
But even the harshest Indiana winters, its rainy springs, aren’t enough to stop the Greenfield Area Soccer Club from training and playing every week, year round — even if they have to get creative, Reeves said.
In the colder months, the club maintains around 100 members who utilize Greenfield-Central Intermediate School’s indoor facilities along with the Memorial Building’s basketball court to play indoor ball.
Mid January through early March, they take advantage of their indoor setting to set up a more unique take on the age-old sport: Futsal.
Futsal, a small-sided, short-field version of soccer developed in the inner cities of Brazil in the 1930s, is a style of the game that can be played indoors, even in an area the size of a basketball court, Reeves said. Besides the change in field dimensions, the ball is heavier, and players also can bounce passes to their teammates off of walls.
Playing futsal serves another purpose to new players, Reeves said. Because of the tighter space, futsal players receive the ball much more often than in regular soccer, Reeves said. The faster tempo of futsal has proven useful in developing their younger athlete’s ball-handling skills.
On a full-sized field, children new to the sport of soccer are often tempted to deliver haymaker kicks when they come in contact with the ball, simply punting it in the direction of their opponent’s goal, Reeves said.
On the gym floor, the soccer ball rolls across the court much faster, forcing players to be mindful of their footwork and passing technique, said vice president Jerry Caldwell.
A smaller court and a hard service also force them to focus more on their dribbling game, skills that will come in handy when the snow melts, and they’re out playing on a soccer field again, Caldwell added.
“It’s definitely just to keep the skill set of the players and make sure they maintain their foot skills,” Caldwell said. “Any kind of practice they can get improves our program all the way.”
The Greenfield Area Soccer Club has provided recreational and travel soccer in Greenfield since 1992, Reeves said. Even in the colder months, organizers offer programs year-round for all citizens ages 4 to 99, he added.
While the club has an adult team, the “Crazy 8s,” Reeves stressed that they’re especially focused on helping their younger participants grow and learn. He described the group as a youth development organization masquerading as a soccer club.
The club hosting indoor games gives the area youth an option for a winter sport besides basketball and wrestling, said club recreational director Tom Pomeroy. They want to make sure children who love soccer have a way to keep their bodies active and their skills sharp in the winter time, he said.
“This is just another opportunity for them to try something different,” Pomeroy added.
The Greenfield Area Soccer Club is in the process of finding a new home for their indoor programs, Reeves said. The organization is currently in the research stages of building an indoor complex that would be able to house more players and games at once.
The club has been in contact with the Greenfield Parks and Recreations Department as well as city economic development officials to review its options, Reeves said. Organizers have hopes to build a facility with two full-sized soccer fields in the near future.