Five local teenage girls will represent the United States in international futsal matches.

Mia Kensinger, Brooke Collins, Abby Martin, Sadie Dipman and Julia Mullins will travel to Medellin, Colombia, for matches July 23-30. 

Futsal is a variant of soccer, but it features a smaller playing area and ball. It is played on a flat, hard court like a tennis or handball court. Along with the smaller court and ball, it is two teams of five players instead of 11 like traditional soccer and the matches are two, 20-minute halves instead of 45-minute halves. 

All of this leads to faster games and higher scores. The 2016 FIFA Men’s Futsal World Cup averaged 6.77 goals per match compared to 2.64 per match in the recently competed soccer World Cup in Russia. When asked if they prefer soccer or futsal, the girls all said futsal.

“As a keeper, I like futsal more,” Collins said. “You are more involved with the play and you can actually get more touches. You are more active in futsal than soccer.”

Collins has been playing futsal since she was 8 years old. The rest of the girls were introduced to the sport by coaches from club soccer as a way to keep playing in the winter months. They have been playing for about four years now.

The girls are excited about the trip. Other than Collins, this will be the first time that they will travel out of the country for sports. Knowing that they will represent their country in a foreign place has them excited and nervous at the same time.

“It is nerve-wracking,” Mullins said. “But also, I feel like it is really important and it is an honor for us to be able to do it as friends for so long.” 

Dipman agreed that it is nerve-wracking but she is also looking forward to it.

“It is really exciting,” Dipman said. “She (Collins) has had this opportunity, but we haven’t yet. So it is something new for us and the traveling part is going to be exciting.” 

Kensinger also points out that traveling to another country will require that the girls adjust.

“The thing that is different with going into a different country is the speed and how they play,” Kensinger said. “Some other countries have different rules on how they play it. So it is a whole new culture of futsal that we could have to play.”

Along with the excitement to play futsal in another country, the group is also looking forward to the exposure to different people and cultures.

“I am excited to see the culture over there,” Martin said. “Meeting and seeing everything over there is exciting since I’ve never been out of the country.” 

“Making new friends is a big part of that too,” Dipman said. “The next year you will know everybody and it is nice to know more people. Brooke knows everybody already, but for me, since I am new, it will be never-wracking since I don’t know anyone and I’m not a social, talkative person when it comes to sports.”

With soccer continuing to grow in the United States, the girls see futsal growing with it. The girls have already seen growth as more dedicated futsal facilities are popping up.

“It’s becoming more common,” Mullins said. “We use to play at facilities where basketball was played, but now there are places actually dedicated to futsal.” 

For more information about futsal, including rules and a brief history, go to the United States Futsal Federation website at www.futsal.com