By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Ten-year-old Vicksburg resident Dylan Myers had the experience of a lifetime in August: the chance to compete at the International Futsal Tournament in Brazil as captain of an elite team with United States Youth Futsal.
Futsal is a fast-growing, fast-paced game, much like soccer. Dylan has played soccer since he was five years old, and like many parents of active children, his parents, Jenni and Derick Myers, were always looking for ways to keep him moving, especially during the winter. This is how they discovered the game of futsal.
Futsal teams consist of five players, one them the goalkeeper. The game is played indoors on a hard court with a size 4 soccer ball. This ball is slightly smaller and heavier than a soccer ball, with less bounce, which makes it a better option for playing indoors. Futsal has two 20-minute halves, with one time-out per half. Like soccer, players are not allowed to use their hands.
The name of the sport is a combination of two words in Spanish or Portuguese: “futbol” and “salon,” referring to its indoor location.
In the fall of 2022, Dylan began training with a futsal team in Grand Rapids, the Michigan Futsal Academy led by Coach Mark Barone. Dylan quickly took to the game. At the end of the season, the Myers learned about U.S youth futsal and an international team for children Dylan’s age. Dylan began the tryout process for this team.
In March, Dylan attended his first tryout in Wyoming, Michigan. It’s is a competitive process. Last year, tryouts for the national team included over 500 kids in 18 different locations around the country.
Next, he was invited to a second and final tryout in Kansas City with 50 other children his age. Dylan was one of the twelve athletes selected—10 player and 2 goalies—to complete in an international competition in Brazil. Dylan’s teammates were from all over the United States.
Dylan’s family was able to accompany Dylan and the team to Iguacu Falls, Brazil in August for the competition along with a delegation that included a boys and girls team for birth years 2011, 2012, and 2013.
There the young athletes followed a rigorous training schedule, along with some sightseeing excursions. The teams also visited a local elementary school where they donated gear and were able to interact with students. They played futsal, chess, and even rock-paper-scissors together, which reinforced the USFA emphasis on “human being over athlete.”
The teams also met and practiced with professional teams and players from Brazil and Argentina.
The United States has competed in these international tournaments for 11 years; Dylan’s birth-year 2013 team exceeded expectations as the first USFA team to defeat Brazil in the finals and win gold.
After this busy and fulfilling summer, Dylan is headed back to school and the fall soccer season.