RALEIGH, N.C. - Soccer parents on Saturday said they're glad to have a way to keep their kids' skills sharp during the winter months.

  • The inaugural United Futsal east regional championships run through Sunday in Raleigh
  • The tournament features 18 indoor soccer teams
  • Fans and league officials say it's a great way to learn different soccer skills

Saturday was the second day of the inaugural United Futsal east regional championships.

Tournament director Leo Meireles said United Futsal started in 2012 to serve as a national sanctioning body.

Meireles said futsal is an indoor version of soccer. Rule changes such as four-second time limit to restart a stopped play lead to a faster-paced game.

Celvin Maeda and his family came down from New York to watch his son Joshua play. He said Joshua has become a faster player since he started playing futsal five years ago.

“It's what motivated me to be here,” he said. “To see him enjoy the game and develop day by day.”

The tournament runs through Sunday at the Raleigh Convention Center. It features 18 teams divided into various age brackets.

Together with western and central regional tournaments, the games will help seed futsal teams for the national championship and can serve as a stepping stone to the world tournament.

Meireles said United Futsal plans to hold the regional championships in Raleigh again next year.