There are no records that show exactly when 5 a side football was first played in the UK, however it seems to have become popular in the 1980s with the emergence of sports centres and sports clubs in many towns, enabling people to play 5 a side football in the evenings, after work or after school.
5 a side football is played in much the same way as regular football but there are some differences necessary for playing a smaller scale game, including a smaller pitch, smaller goals, and a reduced length of game.
5 a side football is often played inside in sports centres, or on outdoor pitches that are enclosed within cages in order to preventing the ball from leaving the playing area. When played on a designated five a side football pitch, one of the features of the 5 a side game is that the ball never goes out of play because of the rebound boards surrounding the playing area.
5 a side football is a fast moving game that is often played amongst friends, partly because of the ease of finding five players for a team. Pub teams, work colleagues and friends often play five a side football and there are a great number of five a side football leagues in Britain at all levels, ages and for women and girls, as well as men.
5 a side football is a Paralympics sport and is particularly suited to being played by the blind or visually impaired who use a ball with a sound function and receive verbal directions from a sighted team member to enable them to play. Five a side football is one of the most popular games played by the visually impaired, however as yet, the game is not an able bodied Olympic sport
Five a side football was first introduced to the Paralympics in 2004 with Brazil winning the first gold medal and then going on to win gold again four years later in Beijing 2008.
The rules of five a side football are adapted from the rules of Association football and comes under the blanket description of small sided football .Six and seven sided football games are less common but are also played.
Another version of 5 a side football, that is growing in popularity, is Futsal. This format of five a side football is recognised and supported by FIFA and UEFA, football’s governing bodies and there are European and World championships both for clubs and for national teams
Futsal (unlike 5 a side football) has long been popular in many countries, especially in South America and is played under slightly different rules to those of conventional five a side football. Futsal is the much the same game as 5 a side football and can be played on grass, sports hall or any hard surface. Many people believe Futsal to be football at it’s purest because of it’s fast moving style and lack of playing positions
Futsal dates from the 1930s. and was invented by Argentinean PE instructor, Juan Carlos Ceriani who live in Uruguay and saw that many youngsters played football on the streets and in basket ball courts due to lack of suitable football pitches. Uruguay had just hosted the first World Cup and football mania was at a high level. Ceriani got the idea that this style of football could be modified into a separate game and he developed the rules based on football but also drawing upon the rules of hand ball and water polo. This form of 5 a side football could be played anywhere and was pacy and fast moving.
The name Futsal comes from the Spanish fútbol de salon and the Portuguese futebol de salão both meaning hall football i.e. football played in a sports hall., in both languages this was informally shortened to Futsal.
In 1965 the South American Futsal Confederation was formed. The countries involved consisted of Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Brazil, the latter country having quickly become a centre of 5 a side football in the form of Futsal.
A governing body called FIFUSA (Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón )was set up to regulate this five a side football game and the first world championships were held in Brazil in 1971 with Brazil winning the tournament.
However FIFA took control of the World Championships in 1989 and bought in improved new rules and new technical aspects of the game for players and for spectators. Today Futsal is FIFA’s approved form of five a side football.
The FIFA Futsal World Cup is held every four years, slotted in between the years of the Football World Cup. Thailand is host to the next FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2012 and the previous FIFA Futsal World Cup was held in 2008 in Brazil and won by the host nation. Brazil and Spain have dominated this 5 a side football competition since it’s inception although the game is now growing in popularity in the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA. Competitive Futsal has yet to catch on in the UK but is growing in popularity in some areas.
For casual play in an open space among friends, the differences between Futsal and five a side football are minimal. Both games are based on the beautiful game of football and although the name Futsal conveys a Latin flavour, and has a marketing campaign behind it to promote the game (and sell Futsal shirts), it really does not differ that much to the more common five a side football game which remains as one of the most popular team sports played in Britain today