By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Futevôlei (Footvolley), a truly Brazilian sport, combining the country’s favorite sports of football (soccer) and beach volleyball into one, is gaining in worldwide popularity. This weekend, March 9th – 10th, the third edition of the Futevôlei World Cup will be held in Copacabana with free entrance.
The sport uses the physical techniques of football – play is allowed with everything but the hands and arms – with beach volleyball rules. Thus, the objective of the game is to play the ball over the net into the adversaries’ side.
As in official beach volleyball, footvolley is usually played with two players on each side of the net and each team has to alternate their passing between the two players. The ball can be touched three times at most before it has to go over the net.
Celinho, footvolley teacher in Isael Maroli’s – a World Cup player – school explains, “[Footvolley] is very Brazilian. Actually, it is typically Carioca, because it takes place at the beach.”
Legend has it that footvolley was created in the 1960s by Octávio de Moraes out of necessity. As the police prohibited to play football at Rio’s beaches, he found a solution by receding to the beach volleyball courts, where playing was not prohibited.
The new sport was initially termed “Pévolei” and played with six players on each side. As the skills of the participants grew, the number of players was reduced to render it more challenging.
In the 1980s the first footvolley competitions were aired by TV stations, helping the sport grow in popularity ever since. “When you already play football, [footvolley] is a fresh challenge if you want to learn something new,” Celinho adds.
This year the third edition of the footvolley World Cup will take place in Copacabana in front of Copacabana Palace. The World Cup will be played 4×4, meaning four players will stand on each side, plus one substitute for each team.
Also the net will be slightly lower than in usual competitions. These two measures were taken to render the play more dynamic, so spectators can expect an energetic high-speed game.
In the World Cup two teams from Brazil, including last year’s winning team, will face sides from Paraguay, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Italy. The group stage will be disputed in single sets to 25 points and the semifinal and final in three sets, the first two to 15 points and the last one as tie-break to ten points.
The competition starts on Saturday, March 9th at 10AM with the first group matches. The second group matches begin at 5PM and the semifinal follows still on Saturday after the group stages. The final takes place on Sunday, March 10th at 9:30 AM. All games are free to attend.
Nilcea Sutil da Silva, a regular player, explains the popularity, “[Footvolley] really is for everyone. You don’t need to become a professional; it really is all about having fun, staying active and improving your motor skills.”
For those interested in learning and playing, there are several escolinhas de futevôlei (footvolley schools) at all beaches in Rio de Janeiro. For example, Isael Maroli’s escolinha de futevôlei takes place at Flamengo Beach (near Nr. 200) from Monday to Thursday 8-9AM, 6-7PM, 7-8PM for guys and 8-9PM for girls. The school can be reached by phone at: (21) 7720-2752.