World Cup fever spread across the globe this summer, renewing Americans’ interest in the global game of soccer – and supposedly psychic cephalopods.
But the grand stage of the World Cup also reminded many Americans why they became disenchanted with the game in the first place: a slow pace, an arcane yellow card procedure, and no scoring.
Fortunately there’s another, slightly less famous version of soccer that’s much more entertaining. Just ask Tony Amaral, a former Cal State Stanislaus soccer player.
“I’ve started playing just indoor soccer now,” Amaral said. “It’s a more exciting, high scoring game.”
As a game, indoor soccer almost has more in common with hockey than soccer.
The game is still played with basic soccer rules: players kick the ball towards a goal. But the field is smaller, about the size of a hockey rink, and surrounded with boards to keep the ball in play.
Instead of 11 on 11, indoor soccer is six on six – like hockey. If a major penalty occurs, the other team goes on a power play – like hockey. Player substitutions can be made at will, with runners entering and leaving the field during plays – again, like hockey.
But, perhaps most importantly, indoor soccer is a much higher scoring game than either soccer or hockey. Where an entire outdoor soccer game might tally just a goal or two, indoor soccer oftentimes has 10 goals or more.
Turlockers have a chance to try this more entertaining form of soccer for themselves here in town at Turlock Indoor Soccer on 500 S. Center St., owned by Art Pulido.
“I pretty much introduced indoor soccer to everybody around here,” Pulido said.
Pulido opened Turlock Indoor Soccer in 1997, and the arena has been in its current 37,500 square foot, two-field location for the past seven years.
Like many indoor soccer players, Pulido started with outdoor soccer. He even became a noted outdoor soccer coach, leading two Turlock Youth Soccer Association teams to state championships.
“So I know a thing or two about soccer, let’s put it that way,” Pulido said.
Indoor Soccer is growing rapidly on a national scale, with arenas in Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, and a large following on the East Coast.
California even plays host to two professional teams – the California Cougars, playing out of the Stockton Arena, and the San Diego Sockers. These members of the Professional Arena Soccer League travel around the country to face top competition.
Turlock Indoor Soccer alums have proven their worth on the pro-circuit, with three current members of the Cougars having roots at the facility. The Cougars even play a few exhibition games each season at Turlock Indoor Soccer.
Turlock Indoor Soccer is also home to the Turlock Express, a semi-pro travelling team of the Premier Arena Soccer League. Pulido coached the team to a Pacific Division championship this year, and a third place finish at nationals in Denver.
“It was a fun experience, we had a great time,” said Amaral, who’s played forward with the Express for the past year. “We wanted to win the whole thing, but it was hard playing up in the altitude.”
Indoor soccer isn’t just for pros, though. Players from age six to 66 regularly take to the fields at Turlock Indoor Soccer.
Leagues at Turlock Indoor Soccer cater to a wide range of players, from men over 35 to a women only league. Sunday coed leagues attract recreation-minded players and lots of families as well, while Wednesday late night leagues attract restaurant and retail employees whose work schedule prevents them from joining other leagues.
“There are a lot of teams playing here for fun as well as to compete,” Pulido said.
Leagues run for eight weeks, plus playoffs, and are beginning all the time. A coed recreational league starts Sunday, a women’s open league begins Monday, a men’s open league starts on Aug. 26, and a men’s 35 and over league begins Aug. 31.
Registration costs $250 for a team, plus $25 per player. Pulido said the pricing structure replaced a previous $500 flat rate fee, as it was easier for teams to find corporate sponsors for the $250 and fork over the $25 themselves.
Turlock Indoor Soccer doesn’t help individual adult players find teams, but Pulido said most players are able to easily set up teams with friends, co-workers, or outdoor soccer teammates.
Turlock Indoor Soccer’s busiest time of year is still a few months away, as youth leagues start in November. Those leagues have as many as 80 teams and play games on Saturdays and Sundays, as players look to keep their skills sharp in grim weather.
Youth leagues are open for players from age six to 16, and Turlock Indoor Soccer will help place youth players on teams.
And for those who aren’t interested in playing – but would like to see a game of indoor soccer for themselves – Turlock Indoor Soccer is free for spectators, with games nearly every night of the week.
For more information, visit www.TurlockIndoorSoccer.com or call 634-5181.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.