The Portland Timbers met last week with Vancouver city officials to bring futsal, a scaled-down version of soccer, north across the Columbia River.
The Timbers are looking to spend around $100,000 to build the outdoor futsal court, then hand it over to the city for managing, according to Kristel Wissel, VP of community relations.
Bart Hansen, city councilor, said he was excited about the opportunity.
“We want to bring in something new and innovative,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the cost to maintain the courts will be minimal, such as power washing costs, and would likely be coordinated through the Parks Department.
The Timbers would build the courts through a program called Fields for All. The program has already built 12 futsal courts in Oregon. It seeks out locations near schools, youth clubs, recreation centers and areas that are underserved.
Wissel said having neighborhood support is important for the futsal courts.
“We don’t want to take over another sport,” Wissel said.
Greg McGreevy, chairman of Pacific FC Alliance, attended the meeting and said the project is highly likely to happen in Vancouver. He thinks there’s a huge appetite for futsal in Vancouver.
McGreevy said he thinks they would be the first dedicated futsal courts in Vancouver.
The courts take about six weeks to install, according to Wissel.
Hansen said the city will start looking at sites, and the Timbers will decide in September if Vancouver is picked.
Wissel said she is very optimistic about building the courts in Vancouver, a city that she said is “the next step in expanding our program.”
Futsal began in South America and is played with similar rules as soccer, but on a smaller-scale court or turf instead of a field.
Futsal is played with a smaller, heavier soccer ball and each team fields five players.
Wissel said it develops ball handling and dribbling skills because of quick movements due to the smaller playing area.
Wissel said the deal isn’t set, but the program is continually considering sites in Vancouver in the years to come with an emphasis on trying to get more kids playing futsal.
“We still have a lot of sites to take a look at (in Vancouver), Wissel said. “Maybe it’s not 2018, but 2019 and beyond.”