Brayden Lissington eager to lift the Futsal Whites world ranking
Yes, futsal – that’s a variation of soccer, played indoors with a smaller ball by teams of five.
The 19-year-old Waikato University student has been part of the New Zealand futsal team – the Futsal Whites – in recent times and had a great chance of going to the World Cup next year in Thailand, but New Zealand failed to qualify for their first World Cup appearance at last week’s Oceania championships in Fiji.
New Zealand came third after losing in the semifinal to Tahiti, who went down in the final to the Soloman Islands.
Just the winner gets to play at the World Cup.
Ironically, Lissington didn’t play at the Oceania tournament as he was the first reserve, and he was watching live streaming of the matches on the internet.
However, he would have had the chance to again put his claims forward as the squad would have been re-selected in the leadup to the World Cup.
“For the last two-and-a-half, three years we were working towards this World Cup and that’s really all we’ve talked about,” he said, summing up the disappointment of not qualifying and the fact that there would have to be a re-focus on what the national side work towards next.
There is an Oceania tournament every year, though Lissington was unsure if New Zealand would be sending a team next year.
That decision is up to New Zealand Football.
Rotorua-born Lissington grew up in Hawke’s Bay and has played soccer since the age of about 5. He began in futsal at 14 when a league took off in the region “to improve on-the-ball skills”.
“It’s really popular in Hawke’s Bay,” he said of the sport.
And after moving to Hamilton last year to commence university study, Lissington still played for Hawke’s Bay in the national futsal league, which was two weekends a year.
He trialled for the New Zealand side in Wellington last year and went on to play at the Oceania championships in Fiji.
Now there’s a national league over summer on three weekends, but Lissington couldn’t play because Waikato don’t have a team and then Hawke’s Bay pulled out.
Now he’s making headway on trying to get a regional futsal team up and running.
“I enjoy it, it’s good fun.
“It’s treated me well so far,” he said of his passion for the sport.
In futsal he plays as one of two flankers on the pitch, and on Saturdays he plays soccer for Waikato Unicol in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Federation League 2 competition as a central midfielder.
“It’s kind of a social outlet,” he said of the original version.
“I’ve been playing serious football my whole life, and then when it came to uni I decided to focus on study.”
Lissington is set to next year finish his bachelor of communication studies, for which he majors in public relations and marketing.
He was awarded a Hillary Scholarship this year for his exploits in futsal and is the first futsal player to have received one.
In the future he may look to take soccer more seriously again, but he has a particular interest in with futsal and wants to lift the Futsal Whites’ world ranking of 62.
“I’m confident that the next qualifiers or the one after that we’re going to definitely be following the All Whites and improving the ranking.”