Futsal is gaining popularity in Timaru.
The sport, which launched its latest season on Wednesday last week, has 25 registered teams, up from about six at the start of the year.
Futsal co-ordinator James Coyle was impressed by the number of children keen to get involved this time round.
“There were only five or six teams at the beginning of the year so [compared with] the last one it’s a big jump.”
Coyle said it was not entirely known why there was a large increase.
“I think it’s a couple of things. It’s the time of the year and it’s the end of the football season. It gives the kids a chance to keep their skills going in a fun atmosphere,” he said.
The sport’s growth in South Canterbury follows a similar trend elsewhere New Zealand.
“In 2011 there were 5000 people taking part across New Zealand and now we’ve got 55,000.”
Futsal was invented in Uruguay in the 1930s as an alternative to football when it was too wet to play outside.
The sport, similar to football, has a five-a-side format, and is played on a basketball court. It uses a smaller-sized ball to that of a football, but has 30% less bounce. Up to five subs are allowed on each team.
The Timaru competition will take place every Wednesday throughout the rest of the school year.