A History of Indoor Soccer

A modern indoor soccer field - (Photo: Article.wn.com)

The beautiful game of soccer has been played for centuries, with variations of the sport dating back all the way to the 8th century, and even further back into ancient times, but what about indoor soccer?  When did people decide to take the wonderful game insides, into the comfort and warmth, far from rains and other treacherous outdoor effects like snow and the cold.

The first recorded indoor soccer match occurred in 1885, when teams met from Newark and Ontario to square off on a roller rink.  The match was an exciting 1-0 victory in favor of the Canadians, and was described as “one of the fastest, most exciting, and novel games in the history of football.”

Indeed the match was exactly that.  Indoor soccer provides a more fast and interesting game due to the size of the field.  What is remarkable about that first game is that it only provided a single goal.  Most matches today include far more goals and often achieve over ten.

Although the match was a success, it took until 1923 for any official indoor soccer league to develop.  Developing in the northeast around Boston and New York, a league was assembled that played a full-sided 11 man game.  Matches were even played in Madison Square Gardens as the sport took on some success.

A National Soccer League arrived in 1950, which completed a full league season of games.  The invention of television helped showcase some local matches, however, the sport was still struggling to gain momentum.  Nevertheless, a 1958 indoor soccer tournament held in Madison Square Gardens did bring in roughly 14,000 fans.

Indoor soccer expanded through the 1970’s.  A World Indoor Soccer Association was developed and included teams from America and Canada.  By 1978, there was a six-team indoor soccer league that brought in over 6,000 fans per game.  However, later years saw a decline in the sport and a transition to outdoor soccer teams like the New York Cosmos.  Many young soccer players did continue to play the sport in local leagues during the winter and it has survived.

Several more attempts at an indoor soccer league have come about but failed, and currently one exists today, the Major Indoor Soccer League.  Having their inaugural season last year, they are the latest group to take another stab at professional indoor soccer.  But at this point, regardless of whether that league survives, there are now countless indoor soccer leagues and arenas for people of all ages to enjoy the wonderful sport of indoor soccer whether they be youngsters just trying out the game, or older people who simply love to play the game recreationally.  Indoor soccer is here to stay.

Obviously the turf has progressed past the days of hard-wood roller rinks to mock grass with rubber pellets as dirt, but the energy and love of the sport has survived for ever.  Although it will always be heavily liked with the outdoor version of soccer, indoor soccer really has become its own sport and is a game that excites and captivates many people, just like it did way back when in 1885.


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