The next in the series of season opening lead-up interviews for the F-League
Rob Lakovski from St Albans Strikers catches up with hummel F-League to talk about the upcoming season.
F-League: St Albans had a great Season One in the hummel F-League, unfortunately being defeated in the Final by Maccabi Hakoah, how did you find Season One?
RL: It was a great achievement for our club to finish runner up to the mighty Maccabi in the Final. We always believed that we could match it with any team in Australia, and we were vindicated in Series 3 where every single group match was practically a knockout fixture for us. We had hard fought wins over Maccabi and Inner City to reach the final, so no one could begrudge us our runner up title. As a club last year, we had the hardest task of all 6 clubs. Along with Inner City we had the biggest expenditure and we had a horror run with player unavailabilities and injuries. Some clever recruiting put us back in the hunt, and with the individual talent we had in our squad, we were always going to be a danger to the top teams.
We especially enjoyed playing against the different Futsal styles, and it was interesting to note that just as we learnt from some of the teams, others started using some of our more interesting free flowing tactics to also great affect. What Season One especially did was wet the lips of all in our club, to come back in 2012 and go one better.
F-League: What are you most looking forward to in the 2012 hummel F-League?
RL: I am definitely looking forward to seeing the Northerners come down and play in Victoria. It will be interesting to see if they can get their full strength sides down here in Melbourne, with their Football seasons in full swing. I noticed last year that Dural, Maccabi and Parramatta were rotating their squads giving all 20 players a go. This gave them a huge advantage! This year the three Victorian sides will have the upper hand when it comes to squad selection and rotation, with most Victorian Futsal players not playing Football at all.
F-League: How do you see Victorian Futsal at the moment?
RL: It’s growing, especially at Junior level. Kids love the sport, but we need to keep them in the sport for the long run, not just use it as a tool to help them with their Football. We have the key clubs in Melbourne entering men’s teams in the MFL, but there are too many clubs/centres not active at this elite level. We need to engage these clubs in FFV competitions and improve the depth and quality of Futsal in the State.
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?
RL: It’s great that Hummel and FFNSW Futsal have got together to run this important National League. However for it to truly succeed, we need TV coverage. Kids need to see the pathway to the elite level, and it is with this strategy that the sport will really succeed.
F-League: Who are the players in the Strikers squad that fans of the hummel F-League should keep an I out for?
RL: Look we have too many quality players to sound out individually. We are a team and when we gel as a unit we will be very difficult to beat. We have added new players to our squad – Maxim Avram and Vadim Mazursky will give us that cutting edge up front, Mark Brackenrig has been rewarded for his brilliant series 3 in last year’s F League and will be back in 2012. We have also added the three Saric brothers and assistant Niko Igniatidis who has also brought over some crucial players. We know have depth, with the main problem we have now is who to leave behind when we travel to Canberra and Sydney.
F-League: How do you think the Strikers will fair in the 2012 hummel F-League and do you think there will be pressure on the team considering last year’s successful season?
RL: It’s going to be a very different league this year. With the first past the post system, I don’t think teams will experiment too much with their squads. Teams with strong even squads will do well, as they will be able to comfortably keep players fresh without taking the risk of losing the quality out on the court. It’s hard to tell exactly how we are going to go. We are quietly confidant we have the right mix to challenge for top honour’s. It’s going to be a very even league this year and there are a number of teams that will be vying for the championship. Whilst I don’t think the other clubs are underestimating us, I still feel they see us a slight underdog. This will work to our advantage. I expect the Vic Vipers to do well along with Dural. East Coast Heat look the goods as well, especially with all of this talk of having VIC, NSW and Queensland State players in their squad. If they manage to gel they might just be the team to beat.
F-League: With two Series to be held in Victoria do you think the Futsal public of Victoria will get behind the local teams?
RL: I think we will get quite a few supporters supporting the local teams. We are only based a few minutes away from the Derrimut venue, so we will do our best to get as many supporters down to the matches as possible.
F-League: Thanks for your time and Good Luck in in the 2012 hummel F-League.
RL: My pleasure, can’t wait for the season to kickoff.