Business leader brings new indoor sport to the Memphis area.
Winter can prove brutal to the average soccer player. While playing outdoors is not ruled out entirely, frozen fields and bitterly cold temperatures offer little in the way of pick-up games. For those seeking warmth and competition, an internationally popular alternative has reached the United States, providing athletes the opportunity to take the game indoors.
Futsol, a variant of soccer, is mostly played indoors on a hard court surface. The name is derived from the Spanish fútbol de salón, or hall football. Futsol teams have fewer players than those of soccer, playing on a field much smaller than a soccer pitch using a harder ball with less bounce. Because of tighter boundaries, futsol players face a fast-paced game with the need for precise ball control.
At Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) in Memphis, some of the Mid-South’s finest young soccer players are invited to play futsol twice a week with area club and college coaches, honing in on their footwork and training during soccer’s off-season. The invitational also allows them to compete at a higher level, free of charge.
For IPC member and futsol co-manager Randy Wright, offering the church’s gym to the athletes was a natural decision. As a former coach of various youth sports at IPC and a lifelong athlete, Wright sought a way to assist with futsol in the Mid-South.
“Since futsol is mostly parent-led in Memphis and not widely offered, hosting it provides an opportunity for me to become very involved,” he said. “It gives me a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment to coach my own children and be involved in something they enjoy. Any part I can have in teaching kids sportsmanship, leadership and teamwork is personally very rewarding.”
Along with co-manager Kevin Parker, Wright serves as timekeeper and official for the futsol scrimmages at IPC as well as guardian to the athletes, ensuring clean matches and hydrated, healthy bodies.
“The players’ parents trust that they can leave their kids here for a couple of hours and know that we’re going to take care of them, make them take water breaks and play fairly, all while providing elite competition,” Wright said. “And, during soccer season, we take the game outdoors so they can practice year-round.”
By day, Wright leads a team of more than 40 employees as Executive Vice President for Intermodal Cartage, a Memphis-based company and home to the largest intermodal terminal in the Southeast. He finds a distinct correlation between the workplace and sports.
“Teamwork is just as critical for business as it is in sports,” Wright said. “Behind my desk, I have a photo that depicts a sailing team working shoulder to shoulder to keep its boat upright. As any team works to reach a common goal, they must put differences aside and have trust for and commitment to one another.”
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2011 issue of Memphisport.