I recently flew to Paraguay for the AMF World Futsal Congress. On Wednesday, 9 May 2018 I boarded a plane in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and flew to Panama City, Panama. With a very brief lay over I then boarded a play to Asuncion, Paraguay when I arrived early the next morning. After purchasing my tourist visa I had a short wait and then Freddie, one of Dr. Ronaldo Alarcon’s assistants, drove me to the Esplendora Grand Wyndham Hotel.
I traveled to Paraguay to meet Mr. Zane Cook who is the President of AMF USA and Mr. Luis Quiroz, the Vice President. We were meeting there and attending the World Futsal Congress to obtain sanctioning in order to represent and grow the game of Futsal in association with AMF. AMF is the world’s oldest and most prestigious Futsal Governing Body that traces it’s roots back to the inventor of the game, Juan Carlos Ceriani.
My room was quite comfortable so I closed my eyes and took a brief nap. I woke up to the telephone in my room ringing and when I answered it the front desk attendant explained to me that all of the delegates from the other countries whom were there would be boarding a bus to meet with Dr. Alarcon for lunch. This was quite an unexpected event so I was delighted to take the elevator down to the lobby and meet Freddie once again and several men from various countries around the world who were important Futsal Executives.
When we arrived at the restaurant it was a large establishment with a buffet in the center and spacious seating all around. Dr. Alarcon was there and this was the first time I met him in person so I was very happy and I gave him a gracious handshake and a hug. I told him briefly that I was honored to meet him and join him for this mid-day dining experience. Tony from Australia, Reis from Curacao were seated directly across from me and to my right was Jody from South Africa and to my left Wilfrido also from Curacao. We all sat together because we were the English speaking fellows of the group. The rest of the gentlemen in our group were from Argentina, Mexico, and many other Central and South American countries. We were treated to a meal of various cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. Lunch lasted about 3 hours and was a terrific welcome and intro. to Paraguay.
That evening we went to a soccer match to experience more of the culture and sporting social scene. We closed out the first day with a light snack and a night cap. On day 2 (Friday), I went down stairs for breakfast and around mid-morning I met with Mr. Cook and Mr. Quiroz who had arrived in Paraguay earlier that morning. For lunch we went next door to an Italian restaurant where I enjoyed some fettucine alfredo and great conversation about how Futsal works and operates in other countries. That evening was very similar to the afternoon, we were all eager to meet one another and exchange contact information and plans for the future so we had a repeat of lunch and went back to the same Italian restaurant because of the fantastic food and ambiance.
Saturday was the official meeting day of the 11th World Congress of Futsal. We started around 8:30am with a brief intro. and welcome from Dr. Alarcon followed by an authentic rendition of the Paraguay National Anthem and a few selections of country specific songs. The day was filled with reports form all of the member countries and delegates. At about mid-morning Mr. Cook was introduced and invited to address the congress, he explained the importance of growing the sport of Futsal in the USA and across North America. He also explained how countless Futsal players in America had been misled and taken advantage of by an organization that I will not name here. After some deliberation and briefings from other new countries who were also seeking membership with the AMF Dr. Alarcon announced that Mr. Cook, Mr. Quiroz, and I would be given full and exclusive recognition and sanction to build and operate Futsal in the United States. This news by Dr. Alarcon was extremely good and one of the main reasons we traveled thousands of miles to Paraguay.
We took a break for lunch and returned to continue with the days events. Several topics were covered that afternoon with an in-depth presentation of the rules of the game by one of the lead referees. New initiatives and future plans were discussed and then the Congress was closed. We were invited to Dr. Alarcon’s home later that evening to celebrate the former President of the AMF; Don Pedro Nolasco Cárdenas. It was a grand celebration where live music, a BBQ, friends and Family alike were treated to Dr. Alarcon’s world class hospitality.
The following day we met around mid-morning to re-initiate the inactive Futsal Confederation known as CONCAFUTSAL CONCAFUTSAL is now an active Futsal Organization comprised of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. We planned the next Confederations cup between Curacao, Mexico, the USA and Canada.
Additionally, Mr. Cook, Mr. Quiroz and I planned meticulously how to expand Futsal’s presence in North America. Futsal is an ever expanding and growing sport that is sometimes unknowingly related to a soccer organization who touts a similarly played game with similar rules just different enough that uneducated players and coaches can be duped.
I left Paraguay late that night and arrived back in the USA a few days later. Each of the three of us have been coordinating meetings, setting up leagues and orchestrating the expansion of Futsal as planned previously that following days.