Miami

Indoor Soccer Pro opens in Miami Gardens as South Florida’s largest futsal facility

City of Miami Gardens Vice Mayor Erhabor Ighodaro, right, and Indoor Soccer Pro owner Davide Veglia cut the ribbon to celebrate Indoor Soccer Pro's grand opening on May 20, 2018. Photo by Natasha Moya.

Indoor Soccer Pro hosted its grand opening Sunday, as kids kicked around the courts and the Vice Mayor of Miami Gardens paid tribute to the new futsal venue.

Futsal, which is a soccer variant typically played as a five-a-side game on a smaller court, has tremendous popularity in South America. While it can be played on an outdoor court, its defining feature is that it can be moved indoors to a basketball-sized court. A rainy day like Sunday provided the perfect opportunity for Indoor Soccer Pro to shine.

“It gives an opportunity for children to practice on techniques, on spacing and on technical areas of soccer that would be impossible outdoors during the summer,” owner Davide Veglia said.

The 17,000-square-foot facility features three courts for competition, as well as a set of foosball tables and a ping-pong table for those who may be waiting to jump on a court. There is also a party area with two video game consoles set up with EA Sports’ FIFA 18 waiting to be played.

Miami Gardens Vice Mayor Erhabor Ighodaro spoke at the ribbon-cutting, paying tribute to the importance of the facility on the community.

“I see all these beautiful children just playing, having fun,” Vice Mayor Ighodaro said before reading a commendation from the city council. “We’re preparing the next generation of … World Cup soccer-caliber talent in Miami Gardens.”

Picture-perfect rainy day

While the grand opening took place Sunday, the recent inflow of tropical moisture has provided the perfect opportunity for the management of the facility to get to know its customer base better. Youth programs around the facility called to request time to use the courts due to the heavy rains in South Florida.

“This is a passion, and I think the biggest factor you see is on children,” Veglia said. “If you teach them something good about sports, or about values or becoming a good citizen, they respond. This is a place for them.”

Neymar Jr’s Five coming to Miami for qualifiers, before United States final

Neymar Jr’s Five

Neymar Jr’s Five, a worldwide five-a-side tournament organized by the Brazilian superstar and Red Bull, will be coming to Miami for a qualifier this Saturday, with an encore performance and much more on the line just three weeks later.

The tournament is hosting qualifiers in 61 countries on six continents. In the United States, there are 17 qualifiers looking for teams to participate in the national final. On Saturday, there will be mixed and women’s qualifying at Urban Soccer 5 in Miami.

The winner of those tournaments will have a home-field advantage of sorts, as all of the qualifiers will travel to Wynwood Market Place in Miami for the national final on June 8 and 9.

International competition

Winners of national tournaments will travel to Brazil and play in the World Final at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr, Brazil on July 21.

The rules for this tournament are unique. Each match is 10 minutes. Each team can have up to seven male or female players, but only five play at a time. Because it’s a small-field competition, there’s no goalkeeper. When a team gives up a goal, they lose a player. The team that is leading after 10 minutes or can still field a player wins.

If you are interested in the Miami qualifier, you can visit the Facebook page here.

The SPORTELSummit will offer robust discussion about U.S. soccer, with local representation and some notable absences

SPORTELSummit

Soccer fans in South Florida have an interesting event to look forward to next week. The SPORTELSummit Miami Beach will bring a number of important figures in the sports world together to discuss the issues of the day. However, there are some notable absences that leave participants and followers asking: What happened?

Brazilian legend Ronaldinho joins Miami-based “Ronaldinho’s Pro Footvolley Tour”

Ronaldinho's Pro Footvolley Tour

In a coup for the fledgling league, the Pro Footvolley Tour announced last week that star of club and country soccer Ronaldinho will be joining the tour. It will be renamed “Ronaldinho’s Pro Footvolley Tour.”

According to a story by Luis F. Sanchez of el Nuevo Herald, the agreement was signed in Brazil on Thursday between Amaury Nunes, who runs a team with Menezes, and Ronaldo De Assis Moreira, brother and agent of Ronaldinho.

Footvolley, a combination of soccer and beach volleyball, was developed formally in the mid-1960s in Brazil. The sport was included as an exhibition sport in the 2016 Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro. Menezes, who founded the Pro Footvolley Tour in 2008, was the captain of Team USA.

“The audience that Ronaldinho has on social networks will make it possible to take footvolley to another level,” Menezes told el Nuevo Herald.

Sebastian Abbot brings “The Away Game” book tour to Coral Gables, Miami Beach

Sebastian Abbot The Away Game

Sebastian Abbot combines his passion for soccer and his background as a Associated Press bureau chief based in the middle east together in his latest project: “The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars.” Abbot will be appearing at Books & Books in Coral Gables to promote the book this weekend.

To listen to the full interview with Sebastian Abbot, play the video below!

The Supreme Soccer Search

Abbot’s book provides an inside look at the State of Qatar’s search for talent for its national team in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which Qatar is hosting. The country has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a talent search which has focused on Africa.

“[Qatar] has held tryouts for more than five million boys, mostly in Africa, looking for soccer’s next superstars,” Abbot said in an interview Thursday night. “Every year, they’ve chosen a handful of kids and trained them to become professionals at a billion-dollar sports academy in Qatar … It was over 1,000 times more selective than getting into Harvard.”

It was Abbot’s background in the Middle East and Africa that enabled him to pursue the project.

“I was living and working in Cairo as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and sort of stumbled across the story,” Abbot said. “I wrote an article about it at the time and eight years later wondered if anyone had ever written a book about it. Nobody had, so I kind-of launched on a four-year odyssey.”

The book takes a wide-view perspective of the search and what Qatar is doing in advance of the World Cup, but also spends time with a few of the boys who made the cut and were selected to train with the Qatari program.

“I largely focus on three African boys who were found 10 years ago — Two fro Senegal, one from Ghana — and tell the story through their experience,” Abbot said. “I talk about where they grew up, where they learned how to play soccer, where they were first spotted by Qatar’s scouts and the experience of being transported from their home to Doha, a world that was so radically different than where they came from that it was hard for them to believe.

“For me, it was fascinating to get to know these kids and spend time with them. When you spend time in West Africa … you sort of realize these kids are very indicative of the millions of kids in Africa that grow up dreaming about becoming stars in Europe. They spend their lives, their childhoods, playing on dirt fields idolizing players like Messi and Ronaldo. For some of them to actually achieve that and get to Europe was just an amazing experience.”

El Clasico Chat

Abbot will be appearing at Books & Books in Coral Gables at 1:30 on Sunday, May 6, for a talk about his book, but the experience will offer even more for soccer fans, and fans of Barcelona and Real Madrid in particular. Abbot will be featuring in a traditional book talk and question and answer session, but afterwards Books & Books will be showing El Clásico. Abbot will provide halftime commentary as well.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun event,” Abbot said. “Folks who come will get to learn about this epic worldwide search for the next Messi and then they’ll get to watch the real one in action as he takes on Real Madrid”

A closer look at Miami’s place in the Bid Book for the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Unity 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid

In late March, the joint bid from the Canadian Soccer Association, the Mexican Football Association and the United States Soccer Federation presented its “United” bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. As was discussed then, Miami plays a prominent role. However, diving further into the proposal, you get a better idea about how the city may change for the World Cup.

International Champions Cup 2018 Returns To The Magic City With Powerhouse Clubs

International Champions Cup 2018

While it may not be El Clasico in 2018, Miami is rumored to host some major friendlies in the summer at Hard Rock Stadium. In a leaked set of games from the International Champions Cup 2018 schedule, it seems that Miami will be hosting two men’s matches in addition to the two women’s matches announced earlier in the month.

Pérez Art Museum Miami to host opening ceremony for “The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art” tonight

The Kidd's Alright, by Chris Beas. Part of "The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art"

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup nears, more and more soccer-related events will be popping up around the world and throughout Miami-Dade County. One such event starts tonight, as Pérez Art Museum Miami is hosting the opening ceremony for its latest exhibition: “The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art.”

PAMM members will get a sneak preview today, as only they will be able to view the exhibition from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. At 9 through 11 p.m., the exhibit will be open to the public for the first time.

New Women’s International Champions Cup will bring games to Miami-Dade

Women's International Champions Cup

Andrew Das of the New York Times is reporting that the International Champions Cup, the brainchild of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Relevent Sports executive chairman Charlie Stillitano, will be adding a four-team Women’s International Champions Cup competition this summer. In addition, all the games featuring top-flight women’s clubs will take place in South Florida, with a final at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

(UPDATE: Matt Higgins of RSE Ventures confirmed to Magic City Soccer that all games will take place at Hard Rock.)