18 year old Omid Rajabi invited to train with the Futsal Whites
Everything Omid Rajabi touches on a futsal court seems to turn to gold, and now the year-13 Cashmere High School student is on the verge of national honours.
Rajabi, 18, captained his Cashmere High team to national school honours in Wellington earlier in the year, then this month led the Mainland Youth (under-19) side to their title, also in the capital.
Rajabi was so good in both tournaments that he was invited to a training camp with the national senior team, the Futsal Whites last weekend.
He started to play the five-a-side game only this year.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” he said this week of his speedy rise.
“Then to get asked to train with the Futsal Whites, that was an honour and a really good opportunity for me.”
The Futsal Whites failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Thailand, with Oceania’s spot going to the Solomon Islands, but they are already building for the 2016 tournament.
Rajabi and several other young players from throughout the country have been brought into the mix with an eye on developing New Zealand’s strength and depth ahead of that tournament.
Rajabi is a midfielder-fullback with his Ferrymead Bays outdoor side, but has taken to futsal with aplomb.
At the national schools’ tournament, he won the golden boot and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
At the national regional tournament, he was second in the Golden Boot race behind Mainland team-mate Sam Mitchell and second in the most valuable player rankings. Mainland picked up the other award too, with Sam’s bother, Hamish, winning the Golden Glove award for goalkeepers.
Mainland were runners-up in the under-16 tournament, with Charles Boot receiving the Golden Glove and the most valuable player award.
Cashmere High’s success played a big part in Mainland supplying three players: Rajabi, Aaron Spain and Zabi Lali.
And the Mainland team had a distinct Afghan feeling to it with Rajabi, Lali Ali Nazari and Mushi Rafyee all coming from the central Asian country.
Rajabi has been in New Zealand for seven years, but calls himself a Kiwi and said he would proudly sing the national anthem if he was selected to play for New Zealand. His next chance is likely to be later in the year when the Futsal Whites hope to host a tournament with Australia, possibly China and one of the Pacific Island nations.
The national championship-winning Mainland Youth team were: Rajabi, Refyee, Sam Mitchell, Hamish Mitchell, Ali Nazari, Taylor Catlow, Aaron Spain, Joe Davies and Zabi Lali.
WHAT IS FUTSAL?
Futsal is played between two teams, each with four outfielders and a goalkeeper with unlimited substitutions. Unlike some other forms of indoor football, the game is played on a hard court surface. Walls or boards are not used. It is played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a normal football. The surface, ball and rules call for improvisation, creativity and technique, as well as ball control and passing in small spaces. For more information, see mainlandfutsal.co.nz