Silver Linings Far From Home

The weekend did not go well for our team as previously discussed, but as is the way of nature, it is important to take something for each experience in life. To that end, Bryson flew for the first time without incident. I ate more breakfast food in the last three days than I have in the last six months. I located a McDonald’s in Overland Park, and in doing so, preserved some sense of dietary normalcy. Most importantly, I watched the U-16 team from Bethesda Maryland win the National Championship.

They were for me the most entertaining team in the tournament. Futsal features four field players and a goalie on a playing space equivalent to a basketball court. The game is incredibly fast when played at a high level, and most teams use some form of man marking that leaves little time or space on the ball, or open options to receive the ball. The key is rapid movement of the ball and the players to create the time and space to play. The boys from Bethesda employed a brilliant array of explosive player movement and deft creative passing balanced by tough tackling and rapid recovery when without the ball.

Offensively, no other team was as quick in thought or inventive in pass. The four field players moved as a synchronized unit finding and exploiting space, and at times holding the ball to allow for additional runs off the ball. The myriad of passes the played from deft on touch rolls, chips, lobs, full speed drop passes were incredible to watch in their unpredictablity. So many of the other teams play fell into a pattern that could be deciphered and dull. Not so with Bethesda. It should be noted on both games I watched, I was there to watch different games, but my eyes could not be diverted from them.

Defensively, they were equally remarkable. Without the ball they matched up man, and were the most reliable one v. one tacklers I saw. By and large their players were short in stature, but all blessed with low center of gravity. With the ball, they held one player back to balance against a counter. They also recovered in transition exceptionally well. Slowing the ball and matching up.

The final component of their success was on court demeanor. Turnovers, missed shots, breakdowns and goals conceded were all met with the same reaction…..nothing notable. While so many teams hung their heads, pointed fingers, demonstrated in some reported instances with actual tears, the Boys from Bethesda simply played on. Next play. Presen moment. Unburdened by that which cannot be changed.

For these attributes they are deserving Champions.

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