Futsal thriving in the heart of California’s Central Valley, the city of Turlock

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Turlock youth will have yet another affordable option when it comes to sports following the unanimous approval of an agreement with Futsal209 by the City Council.

Futsal has picked up steam in Turlock in recent years with the creation of the city’s first league and club, cultivating a futsal culture in the Central Valley that is sure to grow. That growth is just beginning, with the City entering into an agreement to develop a grassroots youth futsal program.

Turlock residents Gabriel and Kathy Bolton started a local futsal league as well as a club team, Futsal209, just months before the pandemic began and have watched the sport successfully grow.

As the Stanislaus State women’s soccer coach, Gabriel ​​Bolton regularly uses futsal when his team is out of season during the winter, giving the women a chance to fine tune their skills indoors. There’s plenty of carryover from the sport into soccer, he said, with most players sharpening their decision-making while playing the much quicker game of futsal.

Bolton has been in talks with the City of Turlock’s Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department since early 2020, senior recreation supervisor Mark Crivelli said, hoping to start a youth futsal program. Futsal209 partnered with the City in February of 2020 to paint two futsal courts at Columbia Park, and Crivelli said the department is always looking for new partnerships that offer affordable recreation for Turlock’s younger residents.

As Bolton began hosting Futsal209 practices at Columbia Park on the new courts last year, he noticed children who lived nearby would stop to ask questions about the sport and showed a genuine interest in futsal.

“They were really enthusiastic about it and learning about it,” Bolton said. “We had the idea before the pandemic and came back afterward to offer some grassroots futsal through camps and leagues that are affordable and inclusive, not just for higher end players, top end players or only people that can afford to play.”

The youth futsal program will focus on players of all skill sets and utilize the courts at Columbia Park. The agreement will allow Futsal209 use of Columbia Park futsal court for six hours per week and for special events on mutually agreed upon dates. Futsal209 will start with a grassroots program with clinics and camps, then evolve to leagues as the interest in the program grows.

At the conclusion of each session or program, the City of Turlock will pay Futsal209 60% of participant registration for the program, utilizing $16,000 total for the agreement.

Main picture: The City Council recently approved an agreement with Futsal209 to help develop a youth futsal program in Turlock (Photo contributed).

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