Two former Cleveland District State High School friends have taken the futsal world by storm and achieved their goal to play for Australia in Dubai on May 25.
Renagi Ingram, 25, and Danny Ngaluafe, 24, will first face Qatar at the Al-Shabab Stadium with the Futsalroos, followed by a match against the Korean Republic on May 26.
They will then play match favourites the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Al Wasl Stadium on May 27.
Danny said the Futsalroos were going to give it their all at the Dubai AFC Futsal Championship to qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup to be held in Thailand in November.
“This comp in Dubai is like the world cup qualifier. It’s the Asian Championships, but it’s also running as the world cup qualifier,” he said.
“We have to get in the top five to make it to the world cup. It’s pretty exciting.”
Danny said he and Renagi never thought they would be playing for Australia when they first met as soccer friends at Cleveland State School.
“We started playing (soccer) together in the under 6s maybe, and then I started up our own team when we were in Grade 5. We both put in a team at Chandler and it went from there,” he said.
“I guess our old teachers would be proud of us. Maybe they will be thinking ‘oh there’s that kid who mucked around in maths – what’s he doing now?'”
Renagi said they turned their backs on soccer because futsal was a faster and more tactical game.
“Fustal is obviously played indoors, but the court is also a lot smaller and is a different surface. The balls are low bounce when compared to soccer balls too. It’s a great game,” he said.
“In outdoor (soccer) you touch the ball every couple of minutes, but with futsal you touch the ball every few seconds. Plus there are only four people on the court at one time.”
Renagi said they began playing for state teams at age 14 and 15, but it wasn’t until year 11 they started to head overseas.
“Danny’s headed overseas quite a lot – Brazil, Canada, Portugal. He did a lot when we first started. “It’s only really been the last six years where we started to get really competitive.”
The boys have already warmed up for the Dubai AFC Futsal Championship in Thailand after playing friendly matches on May 18 and 20.