The President of the NSW Premier League powerhouse club and 2012/13 Club Champions Inner West Magic shares his thoughts on all things Futsal
Futsal4all is very pleased to present an interview with the President of 7 times NSW Premier League Club Champions Inner West Magic. They won the Club Championships again this year in a close fought contest with Dural Warriors.
Matteo Maiorana has been heavily involved in Futsal in NSW for well over a decade and has some interesting thoughts about the game and how it can be improved.
Settle in for a good read from someone absolutely passionate about the sport of Futsal.
F4A : Thank you for your time Matteo. First of all congratulations on your seventh club championship win in the NSW Premier League. Your record of success at that level is unmatched. How did you feel about this win compared with the others?
Matteo : Thanks, it certainly was a fight this year! I must admit the club had never been is such a position where we were competing directly with the other club who were also vying for the Club Championship in the last round. I think the lead up and the closeness of both clubs in almost every age group was fantastic and thats what made for such an exciting final round.
Dural like ourselves are very well supported by its club members, which made for a loud and exciting final round. Dural were fantastic all season and have clearly jumped in front of the rest of the pack as Club Championship Challengers. The Warriors have always been strong in their male teams but their rejuvenation in the younger girls squads have certainly strengthened their club. Rob Varela is a part of the national team set up and when you have Internationals such as Greg Giovenali and Tobias Seeto coaching teams it also helps bring that respect factor and knowledge.
At one stage Dural had a remarkable 24 point lead and for our club to fight and peg that total back and to have a slender lead going into the final round was a remarkable achievement in itself. All those factors as well as the pride to retain the trophy made it definitely the most exciting.
Bar our first one which we won at Windsor it was also definitely the most satisfying. I think this year from what I’m told early on a few people were counting their chickens before they hatched.
Pre-season each and every Magic team are told how important it is that we run a CLUB and are not overly focused on individual team successes but more the overall club success. Its in the clubs DNA.
F4A : What got you in to the sport of Futsal to begin with?
Matteo : It began when I was 8 year old. I was playing football at APIA leichhardt Tigers at the time and during our off season our coach put us in a competition at the well known Fivedock Leisure Centre. My love for the sport started then!
F4A : What is your personal history in the sport?
Matteo : As mentioned earlier I started as an 8 year old at the Leisure Centre. At 13 our team began to play in the State Championships and my Dad was approached by Norm Cowan who’s son John was the state coach at the time and they wanted me to join their club side the Chemmart Eagles. From there I was selected for NSW for the first time. That was a quality team that included Socceroo Alex Brosque.
I represented NSW for the next few years and from there was selected for the Australian team. In one of those years I had the pleasure of being coached by Glen Lockhart the former Quake Mens coach. In the 3rd tour I was asked to stay back for a month in Brazil with a club in Belo Horizonte called America. Unfortunately I got injured playing outdoor and was out for almost 2 years.
Playing began to become to hard with the injury but I still wanted to remain involved in Futsal. At the time NSW Futsal was trying to get a Premier League competition up and running. Scott Gilligan first approached me about possibly starting up a club and after a few meetings with people such as Frank Rossi, Craig Laffin, Scotty Kidson and Gilly I went full steam ahead. I then spoke with a few people I knew involved in Futsal and Football primarily Archie Kazas and we created Magic.
[Click here for a summary of the History of Magic over the years]
F4A : The playing roster for Magic over the years reads like a whos-who of futsal. What do you think drew them to the club, and are there any players that stand out in your mind in particular?
Matteo : I think when we first started out we did a lot of things very differently. We advertised in any football/futsal media outlet we could. We bombarded the media outlets on a regular basis, local papers, websites, soccer newspapers. You name it we sent it. Our name therefore became synonymous with Futsal in NSW at the time.
We ran the first fully interactive website which had a weekly video highlights section, goals of the week etc. At the time barely anyone else had a website let alone weekly video highlights. We had presentation nights with over 250 people attend and had video highlight package of every team. Bar Quake no one else had a presentation night. We had club banners which no one else had. We just did alot of things very differently.
When you are successful and have a well run club you attract good players. In turn good players attract other good players. We have been pretty lucky to have such brilliant players begin their Futsal careers at Magic. Players such as Terry Antonis, Brendan Hamill, Servet Uzunlar, Teresa Polias, Vedran Janjetovic and Panos Armenakas all began their futsal careers with us. So that gave us a fantastic base to start with. Other players want to play with these players.
Besides the above mentioned players Natalie Spirovski currently at Dural was always a standout. That girl is without doubt the most naturally gifted female futsal player I’ve ever seen. [Click here to see a writeup Magic published about Natalie]
Currently we have a number of quality players who stand out but there are so many, the list could go 30 deep. Princess Ibini Isei, Brodie Clarkson, Zac Duncan, Joey Caletti, Rhianna Pollicina. All those players under 15 and the future of our club. Then you have Futsalroos Daniel Fogarty and Aaron Cimitile. The list could go on and on.
My all-time favourite Magic player though is Rose-Marie Scarlato. She started with us as a 13 year old, has captained every team she has played for and has become the Club Captain. Rose epitomises absolutely everything that Magic stands for. Whilst not the most technically gifted player in the world she has the biggest heart I have ever seen. She’s never missed a training session in 9 years, always the first at training, always putting her body on the line for the good of the team. I don’t think she has ever had a shot when a team mate has been in a better position. She has also coached, if there has ever been anything that’s ever been needed she’s the first to put her hand up. The loyalty she has shown over the years has been phenomenal. For her team to seal this years Club Championship and see the delight on her face was a great moment for me personally.
F4A : Who are the key people on your team at Magic that you credit with helping achieve so many club championships.
Matteo : Over the years there have been so many people. Whilst I’m credited for the success I’m actually only a small part of a well drilled team. I couldn’t do it without the commitment of the clubs coaches and especially the players. Magic is only as good and successful as the players that represent the club. Obviously the club sponsors without them we couldn’t do all the little extras we always do.
Behind the scenes is also very important and Carmine Bortone is a key person. He’s been around for almost 7 years now and without him I would struggle. My Dad Ross has been there from the very start and is dubbed the Godfather of Magic. He’s very passionate about the club and is always there whenever anything needs to be done. My brother Robbie is always there lending a hand whilst Regan MacDonald who was with us from day dot and was a huge reason why the club was so successful from the outset with his filming and work on our websites.
More recently the Raineys have been a great help as have Jodie Pollicina, Hilary Coolican, Caleb Gibson, Steve Koutzoumis and George Poniris. Our club Captains Rose Scarlato and Marino Musumeci. Previously James Brackenrig when he was at the club was an immense part. Peter Spathis was always a very passionate Magician and was always lending a hand. The list could go on and on there are so many people at Magic who give their free time whenever called upon. The closeness and unity of just doings things that need to be done. Its definitely a main reason behind our success.
I also better mention Robert Foti from Enfield for his help, otherwise he wouldn’t ever let me live it down. He’s our clubs orange tape sock sponsor.
F4A : Is finding sponsors easier these days, or harder? Does being the top club help in that at all?
Matteo : Finding sponsors is incredibly hard. Businesses can’t afford to throw away big money like they used to. When we first started we could easily attract the 5k or 10k sponsorship deals. These days the best way to look at it is instead of going for that 5k sponsorship you’re more inclined to get 10x $500 sponsorships to make up that amount.
We are pretty lucky and have a few people every year that work hard to find club sponsors and we managed to get about 8k in but sitting on top of the mountain doesn’t help. There is very little return for sponsors in Futsal so its really like a donation rather than a sponsorship.
F4A : What keeps you in the sport at the moment given there is a huge amount of effort required to stay at your level and of course there is no money in it?
Matteo : To be honest its the kids. Pure and simple at this point in time thats it.
On a personal level I’ve achieved everything I possibly can as a player, coach and administrator. Whilst not representing the futsalroos, I represented Australia on 3 touring teams to Brazil captaining all three teams. I spent months in Belo Horizonte training with a team in Brazil in their centre of Excellence for a number of months. I have coached a number of Premier League Premiership and Championship winning teams as well as National Championship teams in Canberra and as an administrator I created a formula which other clubs have incorporated within theirs and have won numerous Club Championships.
But to see new kids coming to trial, wanting to be part of Magic is what drives me to keep going. Its a term that is used loosely and only 1 or 2 clubs can definitely say they fall in that category but what we have created at Magic is very much a family like atmosphere. The club functions we run are always very well supported, training is always done involving numerous teams to create that club atmosphere, we always have older players coming down helping younger teams so its a very close knit club. Many players from the 12s all the way through to Mens have developed such close binding friendships via the club.
Whilst we aren’t perfect in that respect, the family like atmosphere is something we continually have in the forefront of our mind.
F4A : There have been recent comments on F4A saying the younger age groups shouldn’t count towards the championship as it will put less pressure on them. Whats your view on that?
Matteo : People know how I feel about this topic. This is Premier League, this is where the cream rises to the top. If the coaches are good enough and the clubs invest money and time into their young teams then why shouldn’t they be included? Its called Club Championship for a reason. Clubs shouldn’t be putting pressure on 12 year old kids to win because of Club Championships, they should be putting pressure on coaches education to teach the kids at a young age to play Futsal correctly.
For many years Clubs have got it all wrong and had their best coaches coaching their Mens teams. Finally clubs are starting to realise how important it is to have the most educated coaches doing their junior teams. Look at Quake they have a former Futsalroo Captain in Bret Hewitt coaching their 12s, Rob Varela is coaching Dural Warriors 12s, Steven Knight is coaching Maccabis 12s. The improvement in all of those teams from one year to the next and from the beginning of the season to the end has been phenomenal. Its clearly evident, with the right coaches in place the kids can learn on the fly.
F4A : Magic hasn’t been without controversy since it was founded, with the split from PCYC and the merge with Inner West Allstars, do you find that politics side of the sport difficult at all?
Matteo : There is always controversy involved in Futsal and Magic has had its fair share. Some of that warranted, a lot of it not. No one really knows the truth behind the split with PCYC bar a minor few, but with PCYC withdrawing their funding a few years ago at such short notice it was really out of our hands. There are a few other things that happened which we wont get into. But like everything there a number of elements that people aren’t privy to.
As for politics within Futsal, well that sometimes hurts the wrong people. Just take a look at the voting for Players of the Year awards. If you don’t like a certain club, voters wont vote for players from that club even though the player clearly deserves it. People need to remember its only a sport in the end. People have a tendancy to make it way too personal.
F4A : What do you say to those who say Magic stole the club from Allstars?
Matteo : The people that say things like that are uneducated, jealous or quite possibly both. We didn’t want to go to Allstars or any other club for that matter. If we could’ve stood alone we would’ve. We just couldn’t. Not with that little time frame. When we originally went over to Allstars we went simply as coaches. We weren’t board members or committee members and we had no official say in the running of the club even though we did initiate change within the club with ideas etc.
The Magic faction did alot of hard work to help Allstars. That year don’t forget we brought 70 odd players across from Magic, we broke so many records that year it was ridiculous. That was also the first ever time Allstars won Club Championship. The following year certain figures began to bang their chest thinking they were bigger and more important to the club than they were and we decided this was going to be the final year we would be at Allstars and decided with the support of “Magic players” that we should start Magic again in the Super League. Which we applied for.
People out there can say we stole the club but what they don’t know is that we actually entered to compete in Super League. Within the time of the applications to be accepted the President of Allstars contacted me and informed me that the entire board and all the committee members for differing reason would/could not run the club and if I was interested in running it. I agreed to do so on the sole proviso that we would change the name to incorporate MAGIC in it some how.
Considering that people that would be running it and the amount of players within it which came from Magic it was only reasonable. So we all came up with its current name. We didn’t do anything illegal. Clubs change their names all the time. Its only when people stick their noses where they don’t belong is when things become a huge drama. People can say what they want, in the end it doesn’t phase me in the slightest. We were going to start again in Super League but the club that I was at offered me the position.
F4A : The majority of our readers do not have an idea of the money and effort involved with running a Premier League club, are you able to give us some insights?
Matteo : Well let me start by saying that Futsal Premier League clubs don’t make a lot of money. If at the end the season they have a few thousand dollars in their kitty its a miracle.
F4A published an article from Quake earlier in the year outlining their expenses for the season [click here to see that article from Quake “Futsal Clubs – Where Does The Money go?”]. Its becoming astronomical to run a futsal club. If you run it properly with good gear and train your club which everyone should do there is no way you can get away with running a club for less than $50,000 and they are simply the minimal running costs. 100 players at $500 and you’re not seeing much left over and when you accumulate miscellaneous expenses you could easily be putting your hands in your own pocket.
As for the hours it takes running a futsal club, well that has really become like a part time job, just without an income. After doing it for so many years we know what needs to be done with minimal of fuss. Personally during the season I could do anywhere between 8-10 hours of training a week along with 3-4 hours doing admin work i.e FNSW, Website, Facebook etc then you have organising Launch nights, Presentation evenings its a lot of hard work. Multiply that by every other volunteer within the club and you get an idea of whats involved.
A lot of this work is taken for granted. People running Futsal clubs don’t get paid and therefore run their clubs on a voluntary basis. We do it because we love the sport.
Matteo : Thinking back we sure have done some pretty exciting things as a club. The fantastic day we did with Quake almost 5 years back “Clash of the Titans” in my opinion still stands as the best match day promotion the sport has put on in this Premier League era. [Click here to see the original announcement about Clash of the Titans] We had almost a thousand people come through the turnstiles that day, we raised almost 3 thousand dollars for the Cancer council, we had ex futsalroos play a celebrity game vs an SBS celebrity team. It was a fantastic day, we acknowledged ex futsalroos which had never been done before. It was just a really really good day.
Our Mens team played against the NZ national team at Marrickville and beat them twice over a few days. We hosted the Boys from Brazil street soccer team at Tempe and had almost 200 hundred people watching that. The atmosphere for that was crazy and in such a small centre the noise was incredible. Then we managed to get Football personalities such as Johnny Warren, Les Murray, Craig Foster, Francis Awaritefe integrated with the club and in turn within Futsal. As much as we’ve always promoted our club to the best of our ability we’ve always tried to promote the game as much as possible as well.
F4A : One of the long standing and original powerhouse clubs in the Premier League Sydney City Eagles was relegated this year. What are your thoughts on that. Did it surprise you?
Matteo : We’ve had a number of battles with Sydney City over the years. It all started when ISA and Futsal NSW came together. Sydney City were the powerhouse club from ISA while we were the powerhouse club from FNSW. Both clubs had the majority of the best players in the competition so it was always us and them head to head.
It’s definitely sad to see Sydney City relegated because they have so much history. You only have to look through their past to see the talent that has come through their ranks. Nicky and Leo Carle, Alex Brosque, Hooensalars, Borg, Ghisso, Zlats, Craus some of those names not many young people would know but those of us who have been around a while would know just how good those players were. More recently players that have hit the big time in Petratos, Bernie Ibini Isei, Caceras then you have the girls side of things. You have probably the most successful womens team/coach in Roy Cowie and his group of ladies as well as a number of futsalroos that have gone through the ranks most notably Chris Zeballos and you have a club thats enriched in tradition.
Because of that rivalry we always lifted when we played Sydney City. We knew if we didn’t we knew we would be in for a very tough day.
Was I surprised….? Yes of course I surprised! A club like SCE should never be relegated and has never been around the relegation zone. What a lot of people don’t realise though is that they’ve been through a lot this year on and off the court. The biggest disappointment is that SCE are a futsal club through and through. There aren’t many clubs that are like that. Whilst there was that huge rivalry between both clubs I genuinely hope we see them back in the Premier League sooner rather than later.
F4A : Who is your all-time favourite club to go up against in the premier league and why?
Matteo : Quake without a shadow of a doubt. I think originally it stemmed from the respect we have for them as a club. Back in the day they had the Futsalroo coach Scott Gilligan coaching their Mens team and had a number of Futsalroos playing for them so like anything we wanted to knocked them off, being a foundation club they had our respect.
Quake are a very well supported club and their supporters get right behind them as do ours, so it turns into a battle of supporters as well as teams. I think what really motivated all our Magic teams was when Quake started that terrible in your face yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhs that they do. First few times they did it to us it worked in their favour and it intimidated us. Whilst it continued to work against other clubs our mindset was lets see how many yeahs they can do against us this time! If you have a good look over the past 3 or 4 years they haven’t been doing to many yeahhhhhhhhs when it comes to playing against Magic as a club.
There definitely is a healthy rivalry between the two clubs and its great for the sport. The exciting thing about it is for example in the womens comp. Those two teams have been big rivals for a good 4 or 5 years now. So it shows regardless of the new players that come into the teams or if the younger players come up into the womens comp they still know the rivalry exists.
Quake is a well run club and recently they are getting better and better in a lot of small areas that make a big difference. They are like us have a very high retention policy so it makes for a continual and ongoing rivalry in all grades.
This season where we kept them winless for the first time in their history was an incredible effort by the club. Not because we dislike them but we respect them and the quality they have, so for our club to be the first to do that was an incredible effort. Just as was our effort last year against them where they dubbed it “The nightmare on Redfern street”. [Click here to read that article from Quake]
To us there is nothing better than getting one over the Quackers ;-)
F4A : You have been a big supporter of Womens Futsal at all levels, do you think progress is being made there? We’ve noticed a lot of big name FFA players are playing for and travelling with AFA since they have more opportunities to play at a high level, what are your thoughts on that.
Matteo : Our club has been campaigning for more recognition for female players since we started the club. We’ve always stressed that our womens and girls teams are just as important as our boys and mens. Has progress been made, well we recently selected a “National” train on squad for Youth and Senior womens so yes there definitely has been progress because prior to that there hasn’t been anything! Hopefully that grows into something which sees those girls been given the oppotunity to travel and represent at the same time.
I cant really blame any of the girls from the FFA from competing at the AFA. Prior to this season and this recently selected squad what else had the FFA girls been given by the FFA…? Sure with the AFA, the girls might have to put their hands in their own pockets but that is their choice. And by looking at the results and the amount of girls that did that, they don’t seem to mind. If you go through the names of female players over the years that have played futsal and have now made a name for themselves in football it reads like a whos who of womens football. Servet Uunlar, Teresa Polias, Kyah Simon, Cat Canulli, Kylie Ledbrook, Danielle Brogan, Renee Rollason, Leena Khamis, Lisa Gilbert, Joanne Burgess, Alanna Kennedy and they are only Matildas. I could rattle off another 20 or so who are playing W league or Junior Matilda teams.
There are some fantastic womens players playing futsal – Jodie Bain, Renee Tonkins, Natalie Spirovski, Claire Walsh, Steph Haim, Fab Perfillio. What these players want though is an opportunity to get something out of futsal. They bust their butts just as much as the boys and deserve the oppotunity to do so. Take a look at the recent tournament in Melbourne run by Futsal OZ, they held a womens only futsal event which had 8 teams, the majority of whom travelled to Melbourne to compete over 2 days. They all paid for themselves to get there and from looking at the highlights the tournament was first class.
I don’t think people realise just how many passionate women futsal players there are on a National scale. We have so many talented female futsal players, and the young ones coming through are even better again! If we had a program for the women who knows where the the sport could go.
F4A : What is your view of Futsal overall in Australia, are things getting any better?
Matteo : Ummmm to be honest I don’t know. It seems like Futsal is but that’s simply on the surface. You always see the AFA and FFA affiliates doing their own separate thing and if the Nationals in Canberra is anything to go by then NO. The nationals this year in terms of numbers and teams competing in certain age groups was very disappointing.
I have no doubt in my mind at all that futsal could be huge in this country. I don’t see any difference to where 20/20 cricket is compared to Test Match cricket. That is really what Futsal is, a more exciting, action packed version of its mainstream big brother. Futsal in this country with only a small opportunity could be massive.
F4A : What are your thoughts on the FFA wanting to restrict the number of teams at the Nationals.
Matteo : Thats a hard one for me to answer because I don’t know what their thoughts were behind it. Personally I don’t like “JUST” premier league age groups. The idea that NSW used this year where the Lightning teams were the younger age group went along way to fixing that, so credit must go to Jamie and FNSW for implementing that. If it got to the point where NSW, Victoria, QLD, ACT and SA all entered every age group and then a few WA and TAS teams would enter then I could see merit in the idea.
F4A : What is the likelihood of a National League happening on the back of the ground-work the F-League has done?
Matteo : Everything revolves around the mighty dollar. The problem with the F-league is that it isn’t the best players nor the best clubs competing. It’s simply the clubs that can afford it. As a product its lacking. The FNSW Premier league is a more marketable product as it’s a lot more competitive and has the best players.
In saying that though the F-league is definitely the base that we should use to get a National League of the ground. It would be fantastic to have a QLD representative or a Western Australian representative competing. But it costs $5K to enter, $30K in gear, travel, training and accommodation etc to win nowhere near what it costs in expenditure. Those sums don’t make for a pretty picture.
On top of that, the big cherry is by winning the F-League it gets you an opportunity to represent Australia in the AFC Champions League Qualifers. For that plus inclusive on what you have spent during the F league and you could be looking at costs close to $70K or $80k. Which futsal club is going to have that money to throw around?
Don’t get me wrong Damian and FNSW should be commended on getting it off the ground because its definitely what the sport in this country needed and with a few tweaks it could really become a fantastic tournament. The question that should really be asked is why is FNSW organising and running a comp which is being looked at as a potential National league rather than FFA?
F4A : With the move of Damian to Melbourne, how do you think Futsal will go in NSW now?
Matteo : Briggsy is a good friend of mine and he will be missed in NSW. What is NSW’s loss is definitely Victoria’s gain.
Damo started as a football person but well and truly became a futsal person in the end. I suppose working for such a big organisation like FNSW could make it hard to implement some ideas as there are parameters that must be met but that’s just standard at any work.
Damo knew the Futsal fraternity and knew that Futsal can’t be run exactly the same as Football. We can get it close but it can’t be run exactly the same. The way the sport is currently run in NSW it really doesn’t matter who runs it because it’s going to be exactly the same.
Futsal in NSW could be so much bigger is someone with a bit of vision would get a chance to do it. Whilst I totally understand Futsal within FNSW is going through change and we need to be patient all that is happening currently are the competitions are getting managed. At the moment we have 1 very good product in the PL/SL but not much else.
F4A : So how do you think Futsal in NSW is going at the moment with FNSW and what could be improved?
Matteo : Being under the FNSW banner definitely has many benefits. Troy McColl is a great operator and has that positive relationship with the football clubs. The effort he went too to get players released from their outdoor clubs to compete in their Futsal semi finals as never been seen before. If we weren’t under the FNSW umbrella then obviously that wouldn’t be possible. Obviously the set up in terms of judicial systems, media outlets etc is also a huge help.
The problems I see within the sport in this state is there is no plan! No future thinking and a lot of untapped markets. Lets be honest, without the FNSW Premier and Super Leagues what would futsal be in this state? Nothing! And that’s something that FNSW need to be careful about. Local competitions and centres are dwindling. We should have people out there trying to find local centres to grow the sport. Indoor 5s are fantastic at doing that and run so many centres at the moment it’s ridiculous.
FNSW are losing out on so much income it’s incredible. They should be finding centres, employing and paying people an hourly wage and keeping the profits in game fees and in turn using those profits to run more coaching courses or give State teams more training sessions rather than they allowed this year or cover some costs for coaches in Canberra. $200 only goes so far.
There are so many more things we could do.
Our local competitions are in a terrible state – My vision for the sport would be for every Premier League and Super League club to be running mid-week competitions. As an example Magic run 12b comps on Mondays, Enfield on Tuesdays, Sydney City 12g on Wednesdays, Quake 12g on Thursdays etc etc until all Premier League age groups are covered but played on separate days so players have a few choices on what day they play. The catch is no more than “3 or 4 representative players (PL or SL)” can play in 1 team. Therefore players have to find some friends to play in their teams. This therefore :
- increases futsal numbers
- attracts more football players as they wouldn’t be deemed representative players
- clubs which have huge expenses have some sort of income coming through by running comps
- FNSW would be making extra money at State Titles because you wouldn’t have 1 PL team entering 12 players but possibly 3 or 4 teams from that one PL team in separate teams.
If we then say only local teams can play state titles rather than PL/SL teams then they will be forced to play local comps. We extend to say only players that play state titles can play for NSW then players will have no choice but to play.
If you separated all the age groups to every club it makes it all equal. Mascots 12s would have to play in either Magics or Enfields 12b comp while our players would have to play in Sydney City or Quakes 12g. It all works out the same. Even if its just for a 10/12 week comp whilst PL is played and there is no football being played. Each club could make a few thousand dollars.
Another thing we could run is an FA Cup style tournament with only local centre teams. That tournament if promoted properly could be huge and the winner gets a free entry into state titles. Imagine a Mens FA Cup style competition with 112 teams from all around Sydney playing a knockout tournament. You would see some PL players against just average players then once you get down to the final 8 teams you could see a few Futsalroos go head to head to lead their team. I think it would be fantastic.
There are so many things we could implement but like I said, we aren’t thinking outside the proverbial square. Why can’t we run a Womens National Futsal tournament like they just held in Melbourne here? At the moment Futsal in NSW is simply based upon PL and SL where it could be so much more.
In saying that though credit must also be given where credit is due. Putting Jamie Amendolia as a conductor of coaching courses is definitely a step in the right direction. Coaches education is something that NSW has needed for many years. You still see a lot of coaches winning a National Championships on the back of either throwing the ball long all the time or having a team that can’t be beaten and then celebrating they won Nationals. Every coach can get better and I think this is definitely a step in the right direction.
I think once we get a single registration for futsal and football and futsal players aren’t asked to pay an extra fee to play futsal will be the moment where we can say Futsal has really been embraced in this state.
F4A : In your opinion, what can be done to further improve the Futsalroos?
Matteo : Finances for a world cup campaign a 10th of what the FFA spent of their world cup bid would be a great start! That way the coaches could bring in players from interstate to train with the squad on a regular basis rather than ask the players to pay for themselves! That’s honestly embarrassing for a national team. Its no fault of the staff but that’s the predicament FFA put them in.
The amazing thing about the FFA is that they spent almost 40 million on the World Cup bid, the Matildas whom they pour millions of dollars into, failed to qualify for the Olympics, the Olyroos who they pour millions of dollars into failed to qualify for the Olympics, the Young Socceroos failed to qualify, the Socceroos are struggling to qualify yet the rut of the litter, the black sheep of the family with the smallest resources of all our National teams qualified for the World Cup!
People look from the outside and say we got smashed in Thailand. They have no idea! Argentina and Italy who we played were both ranked in the top 10. The comparison of the Socceroos vs Argentina and Italy wouldn’t even be fair. The Socceroos are at least all professionals. Some of these guys the Futsalroos were playing against play in the top teams and countries in the world on millions of dollars while our team is made up of real estate agents, electricians and mechanics. People need to be realistic.
Whilst it’s sad to say, for the Futsalroos to even qualify for a futsal world cup via Asia is a huge achievement in itself considering how much money Asian countries are now pouring into their futsal program! The players and the staff should be congratulated not put down.
F4A : People always say that Futsal should be completely separate from Football. Do you think that’s a realistic or even a goal that should be recommended?
Matteo : Futsal should definitely be treated differently to outdoor. It’s a different sport.
20/20 Cricket isn’t treated the same way as test cricket and nor is 7s Rugby to Super 15s. They pick different players in the Aussie 20/20 side than they do for the test matches. The difference is 20/20 or 7s rugby is treated with respect and as a sport in its own right. Futsal isn’t. Football people should be embracing Futsal rather than turning its back on it. I’ll say one name Tom Rogic!
F4A : FFA vs Vikings/AFA, whats your opinion on each group?
Matteo : Look both have merits and both do a lot of things right and other things wrong.
FFA will always be the most prestigious Nationals because its run by the recognised FIFA governing body therefore it will always be seen as the main Nationals. Problem is it has now become stale. It has been years now that parents, players and coaches have suggested it be moved on a rotational basis. The numbers are dwindling, whilst the numbers might not be in NSW the standard of players definitely is. The players have been there and done that now. They want a change. At the moment there are 2 states NSW and VIC and 1 territory in the ACT that are taking the nationals seriously whilst QLD is starting to get there. SA and WA are still a fair way behind. So why not move the Nationals to QLD for a year to try to grow their numbers and make them more competitive?
Obviously Vikings is huge in QLD so if FFA want to make a dent in that market what better place to hold it? Everyone from NSW would go because they would use it as a family holiday at the same time. Same in Victoria. If the product is good then people will pay for it. Canberra is becoming stale.
The other thing that the FFA nationals don’t do which AFA do extremely well is they do the extra little things, an allstar team, sending teams overseas etc Thats what AFA do a 1000 times better than FFA. They promote, they write articles not just of their Nationals but even local stories on specific players travelling overseas, they are all great reads. AFA also have different teams to play against. It gets boring playing against NSW Thunder, NSW lightning, Southern NSW, Vic and ACT every year. But the biggest thing the AFA do which draws so many players is their touring teams. Sure players have to pay but that’s a choice that players and parents need to make. Each year AFA send teams overseas. Its fantastic and one of the main reasons why FFA players cross to the AFA.
The evidence is quite clear – why did all the girls play AFA nationals a few years ago? Because AFA gave them an opportunity to travel and represent whilst playing futsal. Would they have gone if FFA provided them with the same opportunities? The answer is a unanimous NO! I’m a loyalist so I’ll support the FFA Nationals but its becoming even boring for me. If FFA did touring teams and did what AFA do well then the FFA nationals would reign supreme. But at the moment its pretty close.
F4A : Thanks Matteo. Best of luck with your teams in the Grand Finals this weekend