Once in a great while something comes along that truly inspires you, something that leads you to believe that you can make a difference, that you can have a lasting impact on the world in which you live. My name is Otto Orf and for the past 30 years professional soccer has been my world and my aha moment came in the summer of 2006 when former teammate and now partner Chris Dore asked me to join him in starting a futsal league here in Cleveland, Ohio (Great Lakes Futsal).
16 years earlier I made an incredible 11 day journey to Guatemala City representing my country with the United States Men's National Futsal Team. I had enjoyed a successful 12 year pro career to that point considering that I was raised in an environment devoid of soccer until the age of 15. A goalkeeper by trade due to an early lack of footskills, I was fascinated by the ways good players handled the ball. So, blessed with traits inherited from a creative mother and an athletic, workaholic father, I practiced obsessively to catch up. Since soccer was dominated by the use of the feet it was unlike every sport I had ever played. I naturally gravitated to the goal where at least I could use my hands, my baseball throwing arm and gradually incorporate this new kicking thing as I improved. In the 5 years from 1979 to 1984 I unwittingly followed a strange, wonderful path through club, high school and college teams and right into the pro outdoor soccer ranks. As a second generation American I had little insight to the soccer culture, nuances or history of the game but, as a hockey and basketball player, I was drawn to the new American version of the game that had been introduced in 1978 - MISL indoor soccer.
As the American outdoor game struggled for stability I made my way around North America with the rest of the 'soccer gypsies' looking for a gig making enough to pay the bills in pro, semi-pro and ethnic leagues from coast to coast. Meanwhile the indoor game gained momentum with fast paced, full contact, high scoring action played by accent laden internationals sporting mullets and shorts that showcased their extremely fit legs.
The dream of playing for my hometown Buffalo Stallions ended quickly as the team shut down operations the same year I quit college to play for Buffalo's outdoor team the (Buffalo Storm). So, off on a bus from Buffalo, I traveled through Cleveland and Akron, in which I landed my first pro indoor tryout in Canton (Invaders), Ohio. I performed admirably and felt slighted when a lesser contender secured the backup keeper job as his fathers chain of pizza shops happened to be a team sponsor. I shuffled back to Buffalo on the bus and instead of finishing my last 2 years as a chemical engineering major or playing pro soccer, I was living at home, working in a local machine shop rebuilding late model car starters and alternators for five bucks an hour. It's very personal how we each form our beliefs but I believe everything happens for a reason. As is par for my course, only a few months passed before an injury to a goalkeeper in Columbus (Capitals) cracked opened the door for me once more, and this time I was not going to let it close until both my feet were planted firmly on the other side.
Stints with teams in the U.S.L., A.I.S.A., L.A.S.A., W.S.A., M.I.S.L, A.P.S.L, C.N.S.L. and N.P.S.L. yielded indoor and outdoor championships and all-star appearances. Eventually after winning the 1996 US indoor soccer title and competing in the World Championships in Zurich, Switzerland I was afforded the opportunity to try out for the US Mens National Futsal Team. I would make that team and compete in and win the first ever CONCACAF Futsal Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala and go on to the 1996 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Segovia, Spain. This is where my futsal journey began and those two 11 day tours in Central America and Europe would change the course of my life forever.
Welcome to the Futsal Central blog and the Futsal Factory website. I look forward to sharing futsal information, educational materials, history and new products with you as we continue to share the beautiful game of futsal with players and coaches, young and old in our local communities, inner cities and across all borders.
Email Otto at: firstname.lastname@example.org