Former Gippsland Soccer League player Reuben Langerak is putting aside his soccer boots and lacing up his futsal shoes in a bid to demonstrate the benefits of the sport to the Latrobe Valley.
The 19 year-old will host a coaching session and exhibition match in Moe this week ahead of representing Victoria at next month’s Football Federation Australia National Futsal Championships in Canberra.
Futsal is a variation of soccer that is mainly played indoors between teams of five players.
Unlike some forms of indoor soccer, futsal has a playing area defined by lines, not walls, and uses a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular soccer ball.
Langerak moved to Melbourne 12 months ago to participate in A-League club Melbourne Heart’s talented player program, run by Sports Education and Development Australia, and was introduced to the game through work placement at school.
“I did my placement at a futsal centre, just helping coaching and running that,” Langerak said.
“I didn’t move to Melbourne to play futsal but through the work placement it got me involved in it.”
After assuming the captaincy of State League Division One club Port Melbourne in 2011, Langerak said he was looking forward to taking on the nation’s best futsal players next month.
He hoped the sport would help him develop skills he could put to use on the soccer pitch as he attempts to gain a senior contract next season.
“I’m really excited, a little bit nervous and not really sure what to expect; I’m sure it’s going to be a whole different game to what I’ve been playing this year,” he said.
“I just enjoy the new challenge, because I haven’t really played it; it’s a lot faster, the ball moves a lot quicker, you’ve got to run a lot more, it’s pretty tactical as well; you can’t just run out the whole game because it’s so long and you’re running so much.”
In preparation for next month’s national championships, Langerak will host a futsal coaching session for players aged 10 to 16 years at Stadium 34 on Friday night.
The coaching session will be run from 6pm to 7.30pm and will be taken by former Victorian futsal coach Mark Georgeson.
The session will be followed by an exhibition match between a team from Langerak’s Melbourne-based club Bayside Pirates and a representative team from Moe at 8pm.
Cost is $10 per head for the training session and a gold coin donation to watch the session or the match, with proceeds helping fund Langerak’s trip to Canberra.
Langerak said the sport was “pretty much unheard of” in the Latrobe Valley and offered many benefits for developing soccer players.
“The only real indoor soccer is here (at Stadium 34) and there’s a junior competition in Traralgon, other than that there’s not even much indoor soccer around, let alone futsal,” Langerak said.
“Because it’s a confined space (players) are getting more touches on the ball, so they’re getting used to having the ball at their feet so their control and their dribbling and even their moving off the ball gets a lot better, quicker.”
As for where his own future lies, Langerak said his main goals were still in soccer, but he did not rule out the possibility of switching his focus to futsal at some stage.
“I’m just sort of going with it (futsal) and seeing where I go. I was pretty surprised to get into the nationals team considering it was my first year of playing, so that’s exciting to do that, but other than that I’m just going with the flow,” he said.