Waikato fans got a taste of top class futsal on Monday night when the New Zealand Men’s Futsal Team – the Futsal Whites – took on the Waikato All Stars.
The match was played at Hamilton Boy’s High School gym in front of a crowd of approximately 500 people, who watched New Zealand’s finest futsal players take on a Waikato team featuring former All Whites Che Bunce, Mark Cossey, Mike Groom and Aaron Scott.
Futsal, a variation of regular football which is played indoors with teams of five players, is becoming increasingly popular throughout New Zealand.
In response to this Waikato Bay of Plenty Football entered teams in the Youth Futsal National Championships for the first time earlier this year, with several of those squad members playing for the All Stars squad on Monday night.
WaiBOP Futsal Development Officer, Brayden Lissington, said the free exhibition match was a great opportunity to get Waikato residents involved in futsal and to showcase how exciting the game is.
“We are starting our Waikato leagues in two weeks, from there we are putting together a Waikato Bay of Plenty team to enter the national league at end of year.”
The match itself got off to a tough start when the young Waikato side went 3-0 down in the opening minutes, however a brave comeback, spurred on by the vocal home crowd saw the All Stars rally to trail the Futsal Whites 5-3 at halftime.
After some strong words at the break, the Futsal Whites clicked into top gear in the second half, winning the match 11-3.
Lissington was delighted with how many spectators turned up to watch the match, and was full of praise for the Waikato squads fighting spirit.
“For them (Waikato) to come together and score three goals tonight and put on a show I was stoked… I am pretty sure this is the biggest futsal event we have had in NZ, so to have it as the first ever in the Waikato is unreal.”
Local boy Elliot Collier, who attends St Paul’s Collegiate and plays for club side Hamilton Wanderers, said the chance to play for New Zealand in front of his home crowd was an amazing experience.
“It was awesome…I’ve only started playing Futsal this year, this is my first game for New Zealand,” while having nothing but praise for his young opponents, “They are really good, a couple of them trialed for the New Zealand team and they did really well…(futsal) is definitely growing in the Waikato.”
Futsal leagues will be kicking off on Monday, 6 August. For more information contact Brayden Lissington at [email protected] or 07 211 7515.