The Futbol Factory teaches fundamentals

Carl Robinette

Sat October 19, 2013 2:32pm

The soccer ball spins down the field, curving out to the sideline before it swerves back toward the middle of the empty field and comes to a stop near the opposite goalpost. 
“It’s all about controlling the ball,” said Juan Carlos Paz y Puente as he demonstrates the curving shot.  “Trapping, passing, technique and also spinning the ball.”
An Eastlake business park may be an unlikely spot to play soccer, but the 28,000-square-foot warehouse converted into a soccer training field looks like where clinics for an Olympic team are housed.
The turf is a single shade of dark green with three separate courts marked by crisp white lines. The goals, the balls, the big yellow bins all make the Fútbol Factory feel like a soccer fanatic’s dream-come-true.
“There is nothing like it that I know of,” said Paz y Puente, one of the Fútbol Factory’s founders. “Maybe some professional clubs have something similar, but there is nothing for that is for everybody.”
The Factory, which opened its doors in October, was designed with the idea of teaching fútbol players ball-handling fundamentals and technique with a unique method of training developed by the Factory team. The center offers classes in small, focused groups with no more than 10 players per instructor.
You won’t see any five-on-five matches or organized games on the Factory’s field either. The space is tightly regimented with the single purpose of perfecting skills. The courts are small and the balls are custom-made to be lighter.
“A regulation ball for little kids is super hard,” Paz y Puente said, holding one of the practice balls. They look like traditional black and white soccer balls with a single bright orange pentagon where one of the black patches should be. “Pass them the ball and the little kid kicks it. It’s heavy, it doesn’t go anywhere. Already he’s thinking he doesn’t like to play. It’s not enjoyable.”
But the light ball is not just for children. Adult players will also train using the custom ball as it lets them focus more on developing the finesse of ball handling. The idea for Fútbol Factory was born out of a desire to merge soccer culture in the U.S. with the soccer culture of Latin America and bring the joy back to the game, said Paz y Puente.
“In Mexico we play fútbol anywhere, in the street, in a field. You can’t believe some of the places we play,” said Paz y Puente. “It’s like a religion in Mexico.”
Learning to play in confined spaces, on a variety of surfaces, forces young players to develop ball control. But most young players in the U.S. start with an organized club and learn the fundamentals of team play, but not ball control.
More than 500 children are expected to be members and train at the facility, which includes a play area for kids who are too young for the program, and a classroom area that is open for studying and homework.
“We want it to be for our members only.  No walk-ins,” said Paz y Puente.  “We want our members to feel like this is their space.”