Mini-pitch soccer/futsal courts coming to Wallace Park in Sterling

The Sterling City Council voted Monday, May 15, 2023, to spend $191,000 to build two mini-pitch futsal (soccer) courts in Wallace Park. The courts will be built over the existing, little-used basketball courts, but baskets also will be built above the goals, for those who still want to play.

STERLING – Kids in the Wallace Park area so love soccer that they constantly get together at the park and play, even without a designated field or goals.

One of the problems, though, is that the ball often gets booted out into Avenue G, which isn’t safe.

So, to satisfy neighbors’ request for a less dangerous space to accommodate the young enthusiasts, and with input from local soccer officials, the city will use $191,000 from the fiscal 2023-24 Capital Fund to install two 74-by-96-foot futsal courts and a security system.

“The soccer community is very excited about this,” City Manager Scott Shumard said at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Futsal is soccer played on a smaller field, often indoors, although not in this case. The courts at Wallace, which is on the town’s West End and bounded by West Fifth and Sixth streets, and avenues G and H, will be outdoors.

The city will install the futsal, or mini-pitch courts, over the current asphalt basketball courts, which aren’t seeing much use and frequently are vandalized by those who rip up their tiles and throw them around the park, or steal them, Shumard said.

Galvanized fences will enclose the courts, which “will reduce conflicts with other park users and reduce the chances of a ball ending up in the street,” city staff said in its recommendation to approve the expenditure, which council members did at the meeting.

The courts will have acrylic surfaces, lights that can be remotely controlled by the city, and cameras that can be viewed at the police station to deter vandalism.

Baskets will be installed above the four goals for those who want to play hoops.

The city will establish a reservation policy for private organizations that wish to reserve a court, but otherwise, they will be open on a first-come, first-serves basis, Shumard said. For now, there are no plans to establish league play.

Plans do call for the courts to be installed and ready for play by Labor Day.

Futsal is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and playing it on a mini-pitch helps develop motor skills and more accurate and quick passing and receiving, the staff recommendation said.

Oregon Park District installed a mini-pitch last year at Oregon Park West, and it is seeing league play from at least one Sterling team, Director Erin Folk said Tuesday.

“We actually love the mini pitch,” Folk said. “It’s been a great addition to the district.”

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What is futsal?

Futsal is a modified form of soccer that is played with five players per team (one of whom is a goalkeeper); and it is played on a basketball-sized field (typically indoors).

Flying substitution is used; substitutions are unlimited. Unlike regular soccer or some other forms of indoor soccer, futsal is played on a hard-court surface defined by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular soccer ball.

Futsal is a self-teaching game. Players are constantly put in situations where they must pass, receive, dribble and move, while under pressure, in a confined space.

Futsal has been recognized throughout the world as a preferred off-season format to encourage player development, as well as a stand-alone sport with professional leagues in South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

Futsal is fully recognized and sanctioned by the US Soccer Federation and US Youth Soccer.

Source: US Youth Soccer

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.