Indoor soccer growing in popularity in Central Florida

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  • | 12:29 a.m. June 11, 2015
Indoor soccer growing in popularity in Central Florida
Indoor soccer growing in popularity in Central Florida
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With passes off walls, line changes, no ground-level out of bounds and no weather conditions, the fast-paced, high-scoring action of indoor soccer has almost as much in common with hockey as outdoor soccer, including its most popular season of play and biggest markets.

But in the subtropical Orlando area, this change of pace embedded in winter culture in the North is starting to catch on year-round, said Ciaran McArdle, CEO of XL Sports World, which has an indoor soccer facility in Orlando.

“I’ve been here playing indoor soccer for about eight years now, and I’ve lived and breathed it,” McArdle said. “We’ve been open about four years. I’ve seen it getting a lot more popular. I would say it’s nowhere near the numbers up north or even in other parts of the country. Within 10 miles, there are 20 indoor soccer facilities in Dallas, and Orlando just would not be able to sustain that.”

Even so, the popularity of indoor soccer in Central Florida has steadily risen along with the popularity of soccer altogether in the United States in recent years, McArdle said. The Orlando City Lions have definitely spurred its popularity, too.

“I would go all the way back to when David Beckham came over to play with the Los Angeles Galaxy,” McArdle said. “Soccer became cool across the country, kind of a fashionable thing. Orlando City has done a great job with their marketing to make it that cool, fashionable thing here.”

As opposed to just being a niche sport, McArdle said XL Sports World has made indoor soccer a recreational activity for all, with a special league for those late to the party, Fun N Frolics.

“Because soccer is booming, more so than any country in the world right now, there are generations that have never played,” McArdle said. “People grew up with baseball, football and hockey, not soccer. We started a league for people who never played before or haven’t played in a very long time. There’s no contact allowed whatsoever, and there’s no score. It sells out every season, from people who have heard about soccer and want to give it a go.”

Fun N Frolics in particular has helped to make indoor soccer a community social gathering, McArdle said, for three-generation families on their nights out and familiar players seeking the beautiful game’s unique social aspects, such as hanging out afterward.

But be prepared to be whooped by then.

“I don’t think people realize what an incredible aerobic workout it is,” McArdle said. “One of the things we try to sell is it’s a better and more fun workout than spending 15 minutes on the treadmill. Why spend the time going to the gym when you could be working out your whole body playing a fun game?”

In addition to more running from fewer stoppages and interesting strategies, McArdle also sells indoor soccer as an opportunity to get out of the heat with no worries about field quality, ensuring a convenience of regular organized games that makes it especially popular among adults.

XL Sports World

ADDRESS: 825 Courtland St., Orlando

PHONE: (407) 641-4791


Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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