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by Flavia Brakling, Etcetra editor

 

Some plays are so exciting that people applause after a rally is over. “It’s amazing! It must be very hard to play,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, a visitor from Japan.

Footvolley is part volleyball because it is played on a volleyball court and follows basic volleyball rules. Each team has two players who are together allowed a maximum of three touches before the ball must be sent to the other side of the net.

Footvolley is also part soccer because a player cannot touch the ball with his hands. Instead, he or she uses the chest, legs, feet, and head to keep the ball in the air. A kick over the net substitutes as the serve. The third touch, usually with the head, is the spike. That’s when the soccer skills come into action.

“ Footvolley requires good juggling with the ball,” said Adolfo Gentil, a former HPU soccer player who was named MVP of the Men’s Island Soccer Organization (MISO) league in 2003. “Good control of the ball in the air is a must.”

Footvolley requires unique skills, Gentil said. “If a volleyball player has some soccer skills, he or she can get pretty good at the game,” he said.

U.S. Footvolley (footvolley.net) is the National Governing Body for the sport in the United States, and it organizes National Championships in the late fall in Miami.

“ There are a series of tournaments throughout the summer,” said Sergio Menezes, president of U.S. Footvolley and captain of the U.S. team, which has won gold in Canada (2002) and silver in Austria (2004).

The sport has multiple federations worldwide, including the International Footvolley Association based in Rio de Janeiro, where the sport was created, as well as local federations in Thailand and Europe. “Footvolley is like a band with a hit song that’s about to be released...” Menezes said, “not big yet, but about to blow up.”

The IFA is trying to make footvolley a demonstration sport at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Menezes. “If footvolley does make the Olympics, which it should, we expect no less than 20 countries to participate,” he said.

Some of the best-known soccer stars play the sport, such as Ronaldinho, 2005 FIFA (International Federation of Soccer) player of the year. According to the U.S. Footvolley Web site, Ronaldinho practices footvolley as part of his daily morning training sessions, and has said that it has improved his soccer skills.

Menezes said that many soccer coaches use some of the footvolley skills in practices. “Any good soccer coach recognizes that the first touch in soccer is instrumental in retaining possession, passing, scoring, and overall control.  So, although some coaches may not know that footvolley as a sport exists, most will have a first-touch drill in place for training purposes,” he said.

Gentil agreed with Menezes: “You improve immensely your ball control, which is very important in a soccer game.” He also said that playing on the soft sand is a great workout, and headers improve jumping skills.

Hawai‘i has seen some organized tournaments, with the players being mostly men. Women may play as well, with the difference that women tend to avoid using the chest to receive a serve.

“ Men tend to use their chest a lot during the game,” said Gentil. “It is an easier way to control the ball from a serve, and a smooth way to set it up for your partner. Women avoid chesting the ball, and they tend to use their heads more. The rest is the same,” he added.

In general, it takes three to six months for a person to learn to play footvolley well. Success depends on talent, ability, and work, Gentil said. He added that kids are welcome: “The younger they begin, the better they become.”

For more info on footvolley, e-mail Gentil at adolfogentil@yahoo.com or Renato dos Reis at rrdreis@hotmail.com.
 

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