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Innovation Abounds At 808 Futsal With The Rebirth Of Hawaii’s Universal Soccer Club

Futsal and soccer have many similarities, but they are two distinct sports.

And now, the two will coexist in Hawaii like never before.

The state has had a long and rich history in soccer at the youth and adult club level and in high school and college. And in 2016, futsal’s footprint on Oahu got a major boost with the opening of the 808 Futsal state-of-the-art indoor, air-conditioned facility in Kapolei.

Under the guidance of owner Richard Pentecost and director Kawika Del Rosario, 808 Futsal will begin offering what will be called the Universal Soccer Club for young beginners. The dream is for these young players to train and develop through the years in both sports all in one place.

“We’ve been training futsal for a long time now and we want to incorporate it into the outdoor (soccer) side,” Del Rosario told Bedrock Sports Hawaii. “This isn’t a model that we made up. The top five players in Europe all started with futsal.”

The word futsal is taken from the Spanish “futbol” and the French “salon (meaning indoor room).” Five players per team are on the court during games and the rules differ from soccer in many ways, including the use of a smaller ball and kick-ins instead of throw-ins.

As soon as 808 Futsal opened its doors, soccer players from around the island, including many from the Hawaii Youth Soccer Association, have been able to develop their skills there.

In the very near future, it will be possible for a youngster to join the Universal Soccer Club at 808 Futsal, learn both sports and move up the ranks not only at the indoor facility but also in the Universal Soccer Club that will be placing teams in the HYSA outdoor leagues.

What’s more is that for this purpose, Pentecost had artificial turf installed on one of 808 Futsal’s three courts.

“Everybody realizes that by playing futsal, it makes you a better soccer player,” Pentecost said. “That’s the bottom line, so they need this. Granted, they’ve got to pay a fee here. It’s a lot more expensive than if they were playing (only) soccer on the City and County fields. If someone starts with us in 2022 at 6-U, then when that kid is 10, he’s going to be a superstar.”

Richard Pentecost proudly displays the brand-new artificial turf field on one of the courts at 808Futsal.

Pentecost was sure to point out that this innovative futsal/soccer approach will be geared to the youngest age groups for now. And the main reason for that is that futsal courts are much smaller than a soccer field and meant for a technical, controlled-style game and not meant for long outlet passes or shots or booming clears that are a big part of soccer as players get older

“We are starting with soccer for those at the very young ages, and with players doing both sports, it will bring up their level much faster,” he said before pointing up at the ceiling and adding, “If we had adults with the bigger soccer balls playing soccer here, I know they would be damaging my lights.”

And Del Rosario, who has seen the futsal talent on Oahu grow by leaps and bounds over the past several years, was succinct in his reasoning for soccer players to train by playing futsal.

“As individuals, they will make better decisions, which will make them faster, which will make them quicker, and they’ll have a higher level of technique and it translates really well,” he said. “It trains players to think faster, to see the field, to have a more intelligent approach to the game, to react quicker. If you train at a very young age, futsal is by far superior to soccer because when you move to the soccer field, you’re quicker, you’re faster, you think better. It’s just more robust.”

If the 808 Futsal/Universal Soccer Club idea catches on and grows, Pentecost envisions the possibility of buying land and creating a small outdoor artificial turf soccer field for the program.

“For now, we want to try to pick two age groups and have a lot (10 to 20) of players and make (Universal Soccer Club) teams out of that,” he said.

1970s Reboot

When Pentecost arrived in Hawaii in 1976 from his native New Caledonia, he began playing for the Universal Soccer Club. He thinks back fondly on those days and so he wanted to bring it back to life.

A cellphone photo of a framed, glass-encased photo of the Universal Soccer Club’s 1977 league championship team, with Richard Pentecost (bottom right).

“The club was about a year old when I started playing with my good friend from Ethiopia,” he said. “I played with them all the way until I stopped playing. And even though I played for other teams, my heart was with the Universal Soccer Club. We had players from all over the world — Russia, Ethiopia, France, England, Congo, India, Fiji, Nigeria, Thailand, Algeria, Peru, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Hawaii. We became league champs in 1977.”

808 Futsal’s Academy Teams Are Thriving

The entry level program at 808 Futsal is for beginners (with divisions based on the birth year of 2016 and 2014) or anyone being introduced to the sport for the first time.

Players move up to Futsal School Level 1 (for the 2014s to about the 2011s).

Those who want to continue advancing move on to an 808 Futsal Academy team.

“Academy players (on 13 teams from 2005s through 2014s) have a high level of skill and technique and are committed for the entire year,” Del Rosario said.

Those academy teams play in leagues at the 808 Futsal facility. Some of those leagues are organized in-house by Del Rosario and others are put together by HYSA, which brings in some club soccer teams to play futsal.

One such league — to be run by HYSA — starts at the end of July.

“The HYSA kids are good players and it gives us good competition,” Del Rosario said. “And we’ve also got tournaments, travel camps (to Argentina and Portugal) and some national tournaments coming up.”

Hawaii’s Jordynn Roberts And Mylee Nguyen Make U.S. Youth Futsal National  Team

Two Hawaii girls, Jordyn Roberts of Makaha and Mylee Nguyen of Pearl City, recently tried out and made the 12-member U.S. Youth Futsal National Team (2010s) that will be competing in a tournament in Argentina in August.

About 15 others from 808 Futsal have also tried out for age-group national teams and are awaiting word on if they made it or not. In January, some of the U.S. teams (2005s through 2009s) will be competing in Portugal.


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