With a population of just over 12,000, Connersville, Indiana is a small city nestled at the crossroads of State Roads 1 and 44. Boasting a rich history in basketball, Connersville has a new space designated for athletic and community growth. Offutt's Park is now home to a brand-new futsal court thanks to a collaboration of local residents and Indiana Futsal.
Nolan Shawl, a now 14-year-old member of the 2006 Indiana ODP State Team, began organizing efforts to grow the soccer community in town four years ago. By way of hosting 3v3 tournaments, Shawl sought to raise money for Limbitless-Solutions, a non-profit dedicated to empowering children through personalized, creative, and expressive bionics.
These 3v3 events, paired with a desire to help others succeed and do something meaningful within his community, propelled Shawl to launch Nolan Kicks 4 Causes. Nolan’s local organization allowed him to better raise funds for those in need and his fellow community members.
After hosting numerous tournaments, Nolan’s focus shifted to a different outlet of the beautiful game. By playing futsal with his club program, he realized just how much the small-sided game benefited his skills.
“I really like that it [futsal] is five on five and that it’s played in a small space. It really helps your touch,” said Nolan.
“He wanted to get the community to see how much fun futsal is. You don’t really need a league or tournaments, you can just get friends together and play easily,” said Darrell Shawl, Nolan’s father and major proponent of the court project.
The Shawls quickly acted on the idea of building a futsal court in Connersville. After reaching out to Katherine Good, Director of Connersville Parks and Recreation, the trio settled on Offutt's Park for the construction of the space.
With the city being home to over 150 acres and eight parks, the small park, located in the north-central part of town, was a strategic choice for the group.
“We put it in an area of the community that doesn’t have much sports traffic, said Darrell. “We wanted to bring interest to that neighborhood and the community.”
“The first idea was to incorporate it [the court] into our current soccer complex,” added Good. “Now, we are able to reinvent an old eyesore and bring new use and purpose to Offutt’s Park.”
After adding an extension onto the playing surface, the Shawls sought more help from Connersville residents. Keener Corporation, a local custom fabrication company, generously donated both material and time to provide the goals for the new court.
With court construction completed just recently, the Shawls are setting their sights to the future.
“We really want to host a league or other events to help raise money and also to build the community and show them how fun futsal is,” said Nolan.
With ideas of summer leagues, tournaments, and development opportunities for local teams bouncing around, there will be no shortage of use for the space.
“I get excited any time we get to see the creation of a new space for futsal in Indiana,” said Justin Becht, Director of Indiana Futsal.
Becht recognizes the special attributes of the Connersville project. Noting that the project being led by a family with a vision and a mission of serving their community sets it apart from past Indiana Futsal associated projects.
“Nolan dreamed this court into a reality, and with the support of his community and the Connersville Parks Department, this will be a special place to play the beautiful game for years to come,” concluded Becht.
By visiting Nolan Kicks 4 Causes (@nolankicks4causes) on Facebook, you can follow along with both Nolan’s work and Connersville Futsal’s progress.