Small on Space, Big on Fun

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Jun Marques Davidson, a midfielder for the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps FC, runs the young players through some warm-up drills at the Dec. 15 futsal clinic organized by the Lezele Football Club. (Photos by Mikey Hirano Culross/Rafu Shimpo)

Jun Marques Davidson, a midfielder for the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps FC, runs the young players through some warm-up drills at the Dec. 15 futsal clinic organized by the Lezele Football Club. (Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

Boys and girls who play soccer with the L.A. Hawks and the Lezele Football Club of Irvine had a precious opportunity on Sunday to learn a variation of their favorite game with instruction from some seasoned professionals.

Kai Hirayama of the L.A. Hawks fires a shot on goal during the U7 tournament

Kai Hirayama of the L.A. Hawks fires a shot on goal during the U7 tournament.

Three players, all of whom have global experience in the game, held a clinic at Deft Touch Soccer in Los Alamitos, introducing the rules and skills needed for futsal, a fast-paced, downsized indoor version of soccer that has seen growing popularity in many countries in recent years.

“We don’t really have enough time to change their skills much in just one day,” said Takuya Yamada,  a defender with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League, and a member the Japanese team that won the 2004 Asian Cup.

“I think it’s good for us to meet them and maybe we can give them some good advice. I hope it’s a good experience for them,” Yamada said.

Also coaching youngsters at the event – organized by Lezele FC – was Jun Marques Davidson, a midfielder for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer. He is a dual American/Japanese citizen who has also played for Tokushima Vortis in Japan’s J-League.

Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada, left, and assistant coach Ryota Suzuki encourage a young Lezele player.

Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada, left, and assistant coach Ryota Suzuki encourage a young Lezele player.

“How could this be more fun?” Davidson asked with a smile. “I’m enjoying this as much as the kids.”

The third coach was Daigo Kobayashi of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who has played in Greece and Japan.

After the clinics and a short tournament, some of the kids played against the professionals, with surprisingly tough competition on either side of the ball.

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