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Finding Futsal, an athletic outlet for inmates at Marion Co. Jail

Over the past several years, it has become increasingly common for correctional facilities to provide sports recreation for their inmates as a potential diversion from illicit activities. A 2012 report from the Prisoners’ Education Trust, even states that becoming actively involved in a sports league during detention can foster “an alternative social network, access to positive role models, improved employability, and develop a pro-social identity.”

The practice of encouraging sports in correctional facilities can be found locally, at the Marion County Jail, which has provided a basketball court for those seeking physical activity. The jail, which is part of four-facility system that houses over 2,500 inmates, noticed a recent decline in interest in basketball from its inmates but an interesting innovation on their parts: deflating the facility basketball and kicking it around in makeshift games of soccer.

Major Tanesha Crear began reaching out to local soccer organizations and brought the idea to her supervisor. The Public Information Officer for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Katie Carlson, connected with Indiana Futsal. As a game that requires less space than soccer and can be played indoors, futsal seemed like a natural fit.

Due to one Deputy’s thoughtfulness and a collaboration among Indianapolis community members, Indiana Futsal was able to donate two inflatable futsal goals, futsal balls, and an air pump to the Marion County Jail in June, giving inmates the athletic outlet they really needed.

Justin Becht, Director of Indiana Futsal, says that the new set-up will be especially beneficial for the younger inmates, “There’s a need for incarcerated youth to be able to play and to release some tension, we were happy to help with that. A large part of Indiana Futsal’s mission is to bring the sport to populations that really need it.” Representatives from the jail also added that while physical activity helps people while inside, it is also encouraged for inmates preparing for re-entry as a way to bond with their families once they’ve left the facility.

As a result of the community connection made between the two organizations this summer, Indiana Futsal will partner with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for the Mayor’s International Futsal Cup later this year.

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