The game is often called mini-soccer, and that's an appropriate moniker for a sport played on old tennis-court surfaces and requiring only five players per team. It's actual name is "futsal," and statistics over the past two years show it's one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
The popularity is stretching to Kansas City.
Sporting Kansas City opened four new futsal court locations in Wyandotte County on Monday — a project that fulfills the club's modified development agreement with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.
"These futsal courts will bring life back to many of our parks that that have fallen into disrepair," Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland said in a news release. "The investment by Sporting Club in our community will have a long-term value by cultivating local soccer talent and by providing healthier recreational options for our youth."
The construction of the futsal courts replaced a previously long-standing obligation for Sporting KC to build three youth soccer fields in Wyandotte County, an agreement made when the club received $230 million in state and local tax subsidies to construct Sporting Park. The plan was altered to futsal courts last summer, when Sporting Club unveiled plans to construct a national education and training center.
The new courts, which will be made available for public use, are located at Bethany Park, Highland Park, Westheight Park and Welborn Park, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday with a handful of players from Sporting KC. Two courts outside Wyandotte High School opened in 2013. Four more locations are scheduled to open next spring.
"I'm excited to see the commitment Sporting KC has made to the community come into reality," Unified Government Commissioner Melissa Bynum said in the release. "We have a great partnership, and these courts are a nice example of what public (and) private partnerships can produce for our community."