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Kicking around the world; Local star to play in Barcelona

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, December 23, 2017
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It’s Christmas morning. The sound of crumpled wrapping paper echoes through the house. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee perfumes the air.

As kids rush to see what Santa brought them, 8-year-old Colter Edwards from Decatur will be rushing somewhere else – the airport.

GETTING READY – Colter Edwards performs a trick with the ball. Edwards will compete in the World Futsal Cup in Barcelona, Spain. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Rather than sitting at home unwrapping presents and drinking hot chocolate, Edwards will be on a plane bound for Barcelona, Spain. Edwards will travel more than 5,000 miles to take on some of the world’s best young soccer players in the World Futsal Cup.

“It’s actually the biggest gift I’ve ever gotten,” Edwards said.

THE TOURNAMENT

The World Futsal Cup is an international championship for futsal – a smaller variant of soccer. Unlike soccer, which is 11-on-11, fustal is played indoors on a pitch the size of a basketball court with five players on each side.

While professional soccer matches are played over the course of two 45-minute halves plus stoppage time, futsal is played in two 15-minute halves with no extra time. Futsal matches also stop the clock when the ball goes out of play or during a penalty or injury, unlike traditional soccer.

Originating in Uruguay, fustsal quickly gained popularity worldwide, especially in South America. Futsal has even garnered interest in the United States. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban purchased principal stake in the Professional Futsal League in 2016.

“In Brazil, kids start with futsal before they ever move outdoors,” said Colter’s father, Chris Edwards. “It’s small. Tight-space, small-sided. So, you get a lot of touches. There’s a lot of technical aspects to it that you have to be good at. That helps translate later to outdoor where there’s more space and fewer people per square foot.”

The tournament consists of two different stages – group and knockout. There are two groups, with four teams in each group. During the group stage, every team plays each other in typical round robin fashion. Teams are then seeded for the knockout round based on their record in the group stage.

Once the group stage is complete, the tournament becomes single elimination.

Colter’s club, City FC, is the only team from the United States in the tournament, and will square off against teams from Brazil, England, France, Japan and Spain, among others.

Along with competing against top-echelon talent, Colter is also playing up a year, meaning he is playing with and against 9-year-olds, even though he is only eight.

“I think it’s going to help me because now I’m not really playing against world-class [players],” Colter said. “[By playing in this tournament] I can see how I stack up against world-class players and how good I really am.”

A RIGOROUS SCHEDULE

Colter’s day starts at 6:30 a.m. After waking up, brushing his teeth and making his bed, Colter eats breakfast – a protein shake, two poached eggs and toast.

Most of Colter’s meals are carefully crafted by his parents. Chris says Colter consumes roughly 2,500 calories per day. For lunch, Colter typically eats a chicken salad sandwich with fruit. His mid-afternoon snack before training – which is 100 miles roundtrip to Carrollton or Richardson – also consists of fruit and a protein shake.

Colter Edwards. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For dinner, Colter likes spaghetti and meatballs or some form of chicken.

“Nutrition is a huge part of [his training],” Chris said. “[The coaches] have the boys record everything that they eat every day for the next 8 to 12 weeks. The staff reviews that for every boy and looks at what their nutritional intake looks like. They look at it pretty seriously.”

Colter attends Rann Elementary in Decatur, where he is in third grade. A straight “A” student, Colter sports perfect attendance and was recently admitted into the gifted and talented program.

Colter goes to school until 3:10 p.m. each day, and immediately heads to his daily training, which lasts until 7:30 p.m. Colter works on several drills as well as strength and conditioning. Chris and Colter then drive back to Decatur, returning home around 8:30 p.m.

After eating dinner, Colter finishes any homework he may have and goes to bed. With little to no free time during the week, Colter’s schedule is regimented.

But if he has a moment to himself, don’t expect him to be playing video games.

“We come home from three hours of training and 99 times out of 100, the ball will be at his feet again and he’ll be knocking it against the fireplace or couch,” Chris said. “He just eats it up.”

If there is a day he doesn’t have training, Colter is still working to improve his game – just ask his mom.

“If he wakes up on a day and there’s not practice, he’s in the TV room kicking a ball into the wall,” said Colter’s mother, Sherri Edwards. “He kicked a ball into the wall so much we have a hole in the wall.”

HE’S HOW OLD?

Unlike other sports where players peak in their late teens or early 20s, development in soccer starts at an early age.

The youngest of seven siblings, Colter first showed interest in soccer around the age of 3. As soon as he could block and kick the ball, Colter was on the field with one of his brothers.

He began playing in youth leagues in Wise County when he was three-and-a-half, and it did not take long for other parents and coaches to realize he was head-and-shoulders above the competition. After two seasons of recreation soccer, Colter tried out for a local academy.

Even at the club level, Colter started outshining players his own age.

“The [8-year-olds] aren’t much of a challenge,” Colter said. “With the [9-year-olds] they’re bigger, stronger and faster, so I have to work harder to stay with them.”

Colter’s dream is to become an international contract player for FC Barcelona, one of the top soccer clubs in the world, and home to who many consider to be the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi. He believes his goal is attainable anywhere from age 16 to 18.

For comparison, United States soccer star Christian Pulisic, who is widely considered to be America’s best soccer player and prospect, was signed by Borussia Dortmund when he was 16. Pulisic is also the youngest player in history to represent the United States in a World Cup FIFA qualifier.

As he prepares to showcase his skills overseas, Colter said he isn’t nervous about playing internationally or against world-class youth talent. While it may be intimidating for others his age, Colter isn’t batting an eye.

In fact, he’s relishing the opportunity.

“I want to measure myself to see how good they are compared to me right now,” Colter said. “How hard do I need to work to catch up to them?”

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