10 Questions with Christine Kwon of the US Futsal Women’s National Team!
This summer we got the chance to sponsor and attend the US Futsal National Championship in California, where hundreds of the top futsal players in the country hit the courts. Two months later, the US Futsal Women’s National Team (and the IDA Spirit!) headed to Spain to compete in the IFA World Championships.
They battled it out with Australia in the final match and ended up taking home silver! We were able to connect with Christine Kwon of the US team to hear more about the experience and what makes futsal so special. Check it out below!
10. What’s the main difference between futsal and indoor soccer that most people don’t realize? Do you approach the game differently?
I think futsal really magnifies a player’s technical ability and game IQ. Because of the space limitation and small number of players on the field, no one can hide bad habits or a weak mentality. It’s really important to be locked in and disciplined at all times. With indoor soccer, on the other hand, the walls add a major chaos factor, so mistakes are often rewarded from unexpected deflections. Indoor also tends to be a more physical game that’s less about control and more about bodies crashing.
In many countries, futsal is the main development tool for young footballers, and over time it produces exceptional ball mastery, among other things. But let’s say you played indoor instead of futsal growing up, I definitely don’t think you would acquire that same technique. In fact, indoor can encourage some counterintuitive behavior, especially defensively. Professional indoor soccer, like the MASL, is a different story because they are seasoned pros with developed tactics, but in general I feel indoor isn’t as representative of the beautiful game as futsal is.
There is a lot of overlap between futsal and 11-a-side. When I transition from full-field to futsal, I really focus on off-the-ball movement—not just sweeping long runs, but body positioning, and small feints and fake runs to get defenders on their heels and to create space for myself and my teammates.
I love that there’s so much choreography in futsal, and that every single player has to be on the same page to succeed. It demands a lot from everyone. You’re always in an attack, defend, counterattack mentality. This is a very intellectual game with pattern plays, blocking, and set pieces. Awareness and movement is critical. But it also produces the sickest, most creative players—the Neymars, the Antonys, the Dybalas—the players that we secretly or not-so-secretly want to play like!
9. Do you play futsal exclusively or do you still play outdoors?
I play outdoor as well! I play with the WPSL national champions California Storm, and also a few UPSL teams in Southern California. I try to play various formats of the game, including futsal, street soccer, and Teqball, because it really helps me become a stronger, more well-rounded player.
8. How did you get connected with the USFWNT and how often do you get to train with this group?
I went to a training camp a few years ago with the USFWNT in Hawaii. That was a great experience, and I kept in touch with the coaches and some of the players. Unfortunately, we don’t get to train regularly as a team, but many of us play in local tournaments together.
7. Was this your first time at the IFA World Championships?
This was my first time at the IFA World Championships and I already miss it! I thrive off of problem-solving with my teammates and coaches. It’s so rewarding to learn something new about yourself or the game, make adjustments, and see that pay off with winning results. I felt like I had a lot of support from the team, so I was able to perform at a high level throughout the tournament because I felt so secure and confident.
6. What was the highlight from the trip to Spain?
I am usually the assist man, so scoring the winning goal in the Australia game was definitely my on-court highlight. Off the court, we got into some adventures! We were in Blanes and Barcelona, and later a couple of us went to Madrid and saw the Atletico Madrid v. Real Madrid match. I definitely spoke more Spanish than I knew I had in me, and it was just really fun hanging out with the team—going dancing, playing cards, and watching everyone’s games! From the youth matches to the men’s and women’s teams, I love being in the stands discussing footy, analyzing plays, and cheering on my favorite players!
5. What do you do when you're not traveling the world playing futsal?
My background is in film and writing, so I consume a lot of media (TV, film, literature, sports). I also am a longtime advocate for underserved communities, communities of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, etc. Having become heavily involved with soccer, I try to play my part in amplifying certain voices in the sport, and advocating for greater access to the game.
4. How do you hope to see futsal grow in the US?
I think if we made the space for it and started to play more street soccer, people would quickly fall in love with futsal. Playing pickup in your neighborhood, with friends, on a hard court, experimenting and having fun, these are the ingredients to building a strong soccer culture and developing world-class players. You want people to fall in love with the sport. You want it to be easy to access. I would say making futsal courts as abundant as basketball courts would be a major goal.
On the youth level, I think the best clubs and academies here are implementing futsal early on. Which includes bringing on experienced futsal coaches and playing on futsal courts. If we started our youngest players with futsal, you’d be amazed by the speed of development and how sharp their technique becomes. The sole control, the body movement, the balance, it builds a foundation of skill that’s above and beyond that of your average outdoor youth player. This level is really hard to unlock at a later time, but if you gave youth these tools from the get go, you’d be raising an army of extremely confident, intuitive, and smart players.
3. What impact could futsal have in the women’s game and for young girls?
I have seen the direct impact of equipping women and girls with futsal skills. It’s a question of confidence and agency. When you know you can beat someone one-on-one, you play better, whether you choose to do so in the moment or not. When you’re encouraged to try new skills, you become excited to succeed rather than fearful of failing. I have seen futsal completely change the demeanor of women and girls, because it allows them to play more free, with courage, swagger, and determination. This in no way deters from the discipline required in the game of futsal; rather it’s an essential part of developing the complete player. We come from a very rigid soccer culture in the U.S. that has always prioritized physicality, so the more we actively encourage women and girls to participate in street soccer and futsal, the more we’re going to see the women’s game evolve.
2. What did you think of the IDA Spirits on the court? How’d they feel?
I’m really impressed and excited by the IDA brand and shoes. I’ve always had trouble finding specifically futsal shoes, so having a product that caters to female athletes in this sport is amazing. I am a huge fan of a soft upper so I love the feel of the IDA shoe material. I also appreciate the added heel support, which is really important for futsal professionals. The colorways are beautiful, and I like the variety offered.