Futsal courts planned for Hawthorne Park

Javier De La Mora attempts to keep the ball from Mira Rosanelli while others watch during action at the Santo Community Center on June 28.

Upcoming renovations of Hawthorne Park include the addition of two courts for futsal, a variation of indoor soccer.

Jesse Nyberg, recreation supervisor for the Medford Parks and Recreation Department, said the department currently runs the league, which launched in 2009, out of its gymnasium at the Santo Community Center.

The multi-use court works, but is definitely not ideal for futsal, he said.

"It will be a definite attraction to have a court that's actually perfectly lined for futsal," Nyberg said.

Futsal is played on a hard court with teams of five. It is also played with a smaller, heavier ball than a traditional soccer ball.

Nicole Rosanelli, who has played outdoor soccer as well as futsal through Medford's leagues with her husband Chad for several seasons, said futsal has appeal that's independent of soccer.

"There's less players on the field, so you get more touches," Rosanelli said. "You learn how to make faster plays, and it definitely improves skills."

Rosanelli said having perfectly lined courts in the park could be a definite draw to the league.

"That sounds awesome," Rosanelli said. "If they do futsal there, then we'll keep signing up for sure."

Brian Sjothun, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said that although futsal is typically played indoors, the courts will be outside. Futsal courts technically do not have walls, but early plans for the courts have nets to keep the ball in the court area.

Sjothun said there is a "great demand" for futsal in Medford.

However, while the Medford futsal league proves popular in the winter, in the warmer seasons the Parks and Recreation Department sometimes struggles to fill its teams.

"When the weather is nice, most prefer to play outdoor if they can," Nyberg said.

The league has men's, women's and coed divisions, and each needs at least four teams, Nyberg said. Still, Nyberg said, with soccer's growing popularity in the Rogue Valley, he anticipates the courts being well used.

"Any soccer will be successful in the long run, as long as it's run correctly," Nyberg said.

Sjothun said the courts are not built only for the league, and he anticipates people dropping in and playing at the park as well.

"It's an opportunity to have another active park activity that will draw people to the park," Sjothun said.

Rosanelli said having the courts in the park will make the sport more accessible.

"I think that's great they're opening [the courts] up to anyone," Rosanelli said. "Some people can't afford to play with the league, so that will give them a chance to try it out."

In addition to the two futsal courts, there will be a basketball court.

Other improvements include a splash pad, skate area, entry plaza, gardens, restroom, play structure, field restoration, picnic shelter, dog park, walkways and lighting.

The park is slated to close for renovations in September, with anticipated completion in June.

Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Kelsey Thomas at 541-776-4368 or kthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @kelseyethomas.



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