F-League: Can you tell me about the Melbourne Heart and why they have got involved in Futsal?
EV: Melbourne Heart is a progressive total football club. The philosophy is simple. It embraces the community and tries to give back to the members and supporters what they want. It’s for similar reasons that most of the great clubs around the world also have Futsal teams, such as Barcelona, Benfica, Boca Juniors and many more. The response from the fans has already been overwhelming and very positive.
F-League: What are you most looking forward to in the 2012 hummel F-League?
EV: Professionalism. I think that we are now definitely on our way to having a high quality national Futsal league. Hopefully soon it can turn fully professional in the near future. I think already what it has done, is made many players start choosing Futsal over football as a real alternative.
F-League: How do you see Victorian Futsal at the moment?
EV: Futsal in Victoria has been slowly but surely improving in quality both from an administrative perspective as well as players and coaches. There is great enthusiasm for the game and there are a lot of talented players. What we do lack is the experience of playing high quality games with full FIFA rules.
Like all other states, our juniors have been getting a lot of alternatives that clash with Futsal. They are less able to choose Futsal along with outdoor football which we believe they should be able to do both. We can now however start giving some real pathways for our juniors so that they can choose Futsal as a real possibility for their future.
F-League: How do you see Futsal currently in Australia, do you think the Hummel F-League will help lift the profile of the game in this country?
EV: There are 300,000 people playing Futsal in Australia according to FFA statistics. The sport is obviously popular however it has just been lacking that elite pathway which we are now getting through the Hummel F-League. The only way Australia can start to compete in Asia and around the world is if we have more full time players. The Hummel F-League is a definite step towards this. I think we would all love to see Australia in World cups challenging some of the great Futsal nations.
The other thing holding back the sport is a lack of exposure. We are hoping to change this with Melbourne Heart having quite a large fan base and connections with media outlets.
F-League: The brand Melbourne Heart is known in the A-League as being a community club, do you think the clubs strong supporter base will get behind the Futsal team?
EV: News about the clubs involvement in this year’s Hummel F-League has been posted on some supporter’s social media and the response has been the biggest to date. The fans of Melbourne Heart are great and love that their club seems to understand them. I think we will get quite a crowd at our games. This in turn will be good for all the other clubs and the sport as a whole.
F-League: How do you think the Heart will fair in the 2012 hummel F-League?
EV: It’s hard to tell at this stage as we have not tested ourselves against the opposition. We are running trials for new players and this can turn up some interesting new players. We will definitely be in there shaking a few trees.
F-League: Can we hope to see guest appearances from any of the Hearts stars in the 2012 hummel F-League?
EV: We have spoken about it and there is some chance however we will have to wait and see over the next month what happens in terms of recruiting players and the like. We will let you know if this does happen. Some Melbourne Heart outdoor players will also be in attendance at our home games.
F-League: Thanks for your time and Good Luck in in the 2012 hummel F-League?
EV: Thanks. We are really eager for this season to kick off. Hopefully with our fan base and resources, we can raise the profile of this fantastic sport to the level it deserves.