New England Soccer Today

Local Star Lobbies for Proper Futsal League

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

For the first time in recent memory, local soccer fans had the opportunity to witness a high-profile futsal tournament thanks to the New England International Futsal Challenge, which was held during the past weekend in Providence, Fall River, and Boston. But at least one participant hopes that the showcase serves as a springboard for something even bigger.

Safira FC goalscorer Alencar Junior, who tallied three times in Friday’s opening game against eventual tournament champion Rio Stars, believes that the time has come for a proper futsal league in New England, especially after witnessing the robust crowds at each stop during the tournament.

“It’s nice, especially for the futsal here in New England, even though we don’t have a real league here,” Junior told “We need a league here in New England, one league for futsal, and this (tournament) is just the start, to promote the possibility of a league in the future.”

Junior, who’s played for Massachusetts-based Safira for the last seven years, said that the extent of the team’s futsal-related commitments are the U.S. National Championship tournament, which the team has won three times (2009, 2011, and 2013), and a handful of tournaments across the country. But aside from those events, the rest of the calendar is largely quiet for him and his teammates.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped Safira from racking up accolades, as well as invitations to such high-profile tournaments as the recent New England International Futsal Challenge.

“We’ve been together for a long time,” Junior said. “We’ve played together for the last 6-7 years, which makes us strong, and even though we brought in a couple of players from Las Vegas (for this tournament), we all know each other, and that’s really been the key for us.”

With the national success of a locally-based futsal squad, Junior, who’s also played outdoors for the Western Mass Pioneers, Mass United FC and Boston Olympiakos, would like to see a formal league spring up in the region. To date, the only U.S. Futsal-sanctioned pro league in the country is Major League Futsal, which is comprised of clubs primarily located on the West Coast.

Even though he knows that the creation of a similar league in New England won’t happen overnight, Junior believes that the popularity of futsal is following soccer’s path in the U.S. To that end, he’s hoping that the arrival of a local pro futsal league is imminent.

“I think it’s good,” Junior said. “And it’s already started. I just went to New Mexico to play in the finals for a tournament (in October), and you can see it’s growing. Just like soccer is growing.”

Junior pointed to his two-year-old son, Leandro, as another reason why he’s optimistic about futsal’s success in the States.

“This is the future,” Junior said, bringing his son close to his side. “You’re going to see a lot of kids, even kids here in the stands, playing it. It’s a fast game, but it’s easy to play if you practice it. I think it’s growing, and it’s going to grow more. And hopefully we’ll have a league, and hopefully, I won’t have to wait until I’m in my 40s or something, so hopefully sooner than that.”

Although he expects to remain active playing the outdoor game next spring and summer at the PDL level – a forum in which was named to the league’s Best XI in 2012 after scoring 10 goals for the now-defunct Worcester Hydra – Junior’s true calling appears to be on the futsal court.

“I love very much to play futsal,” Junior said. “This is my area (of expertise). This is where I feel comfortable, and I’m always working on practicing new stuff. For me personally, I love seeing the crowds here. This is so good for New England.”

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