BYU freshman reigns as national futsal champion

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Taylin Nguyen first made an impression on members of the Gamer Futsal Club when she was a junior in high school who simultaneously sprinted and maneuvered a futsal ball down the streets of San Mateo, California. Just two years later, the soccer player and futsal rookie became a U.S. National Futsal Champion.

Now a BYU freshman, Nguyen started competitive soccer in seventh grade but pursued futsal in her spare time. Lucky for Nguyen, her futsal street competitors happened to play for Roxy Kamal, coach of Gamer Futsal Club and the U.S. Women’s National Futsal team. Upon meeting Nguyen, Kamal extended an invitation to join her club team.

“That was scary for me because I had never played real futsal before, and it’s way different playing on the streets,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen joined Gamer Futsal Club her senior year but did not leave soccer in the past, juggling club and high school soccer concurrently. U.S. Soccer defines futsal as a derivative of soccer with five man teams and smaller balls. 

Taylin Nguyen balanced her passions, creating time for both futsal and soccer. (Taylin Nguyen)

“At first we approached futsal as cross-training for Taylin to do in the offseason,” said Huy Nguyen, Taylin Nguyen’s father. “Futsal allowed her to get in touches, keep in shape and learn footwork and agility.”

Huy Nguyen watched futsal climb up the pedestal on Nguyen’s priorities and knew her dedication would allow her to succeed in both.

“She is constantly working out and trying to get better and faster,” Huy Nguyen said. “The contact aspect of both sports is very welcomed by Taylin.”

While futsal started off as “cross-training,” Nguyen developed an unexpected passion for it.

“I think I like futsal better because I like the faster pace,” Nguyen said. “I’m not a super fast runner and I’m more quick with short distances.”

Nguyen graduated high school in May 2018 and accepted admission to BYU in Fall 2018, leaving her futsal career in California. However, during her single year on the team, she made quite the impression — so much so that coaches Kamal and Laura Corrado invited her to try out for the under-20 U.S. Women’s National Futsal Team.

Nguyen flew out for tryouts in October 2018 and accepted a position on the team. Kamal and Corrado offered her a spot knowing she would be unable to practice with the team in California.

“Just seeing her grow up in the club team, we knew of her work ethic and we knew she would be one of few athletes who would train on her own,” Corrado said. “She’s a workhorse, that’s for sure. She’s a very intelligent player on the court.”

After joining the team in October, Nguyen had less than two months to prepare for the Pacific Rim Futsal Cup in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I was left to practice on my own and had to keep up with my fitness and nutrition,” Nguyen said. “It was really stressful because I wanted to be prepared.”

Nguyen made her first appearance as a member of the U.S. Women’s National team at the annual International Futsal event on Nov. 29. Immediately after arriving, the team came together to train. A short-term issue with team chemistry arose when three of the squad’s starting five players had not trained together.

”It took us a minute to get into the groove of things because I was new and didn’t know a lot of the girls,” Nguyen said. “In the end, the long training really helped and we clicked pretty fast.”

The team lost its first match of the tournament, but the loss didn’t foreshadow the remainder of the tournament. The U.S. team members reigned as champions by Dec. 2. Even with this esteemed title, Nguyen noted scenarios to practice in the coming months.

Taylin Nguyen and teammates celebrate their national win. (Taylin Nguyen, far right)

“I think I can improve at switching positions,” Nguyen said. “It was hard for me because I rotate a lot and I get mixed up if I’m playing defense or forward.”

Even though she recognizes room for improvement, Corrado claimed that Nguyen’s talent proved crucial to the team’s success.

“She played the most out of anyone on the team during the tournament in Hawaii,” Corrado said. “We would give her a little breather and then would get her back on the court because she was key in winning.”

For now, Nguygen continues to prepare herself in hopes she will make the roster for future international competitions.

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