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A Week of Shame for the FFV (VIC)

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Ben Mills

Logo - VicThe 2014 Futsal Nationals will be remembered for a long time in Victorian Futsal. Considering the recent history of Futsal in Victoria, it is disappointing that not a single team made the Grand Finals at the Nationals earlier this year. In fact it is the result of exactly what the FFV think of Futsal. The fact that the game is given zero credibility and zero input during the entire year has culminated in this – the worst result in a long, long time.

Who will be held responsible for this shambles?

Will it be the FFV Talented Player Development Manager, Les Bee? No, of course not. After all Les has no interest in seeing Futsal progressing, as it would mean only more work for him and he doesn’t believe in Futsal as a valued tool in the development of players. The fact that there isn’t a Futsal program for FFV State teams apart from a few training sessions just before the FFA Nationals, is an indication of what he thinks of futsal.

Will it be the FFV Director of Coaching, Eugene Lawrenz? No, not him either. Eugene was appointed by Les to the position of State Futsal Coaching Coordinator (while also managing his existing responsibilies). Clearly, he is way too busy with other responsibilities at the FFV to take Futsal seriously. Who is Eugene Lawrenz anyway? What are his credentials and how much experience does he have? On what basis was he appointed to the position of State Futsal Coordinator?

The fact that many coaches Eugene and Les appointed this year had only a C Football licence demonstrates which direction Futsal in Victoria is heading.

Should it be the FFV Futsal Department? Nope, we can’t blame them either, because there isn’t one, since the FFV shut down the department last year.

Maybe the coaches are to blame – why not? It seems like a good idea on most occasions. Many Futsal Coaches this year had only ever been Team Managers/Assistant Coaches in previous years and others with only a Football C licence. Well, the results speak for themselves, don’t they?

You could hardly blame the coaches for being appointed to these important positions. From a coaches perspective it’s a real privilege to be coach of talented players and compete against the best in the country, they apply for the positions together with experienced coaches from the past and coaches are then appointed to positions by Eugene and Les, These coaches then get on with the job to the best of their abilities.

Have coaches who have been involved in the past possess too much knowledge and the powers that be can’t control or influence them as they wish? Have friendships with certain Futsal clubs crept in? Are they getting advise from certain people who are influencing them toward being involved with certain coaches and their clubs? Have past coaches who were involved in previous FFV tours at the Futsal Nationals lost faith in the system and seen through the façade and realised where the direction of the sport is going?

After all, neither Les or Eugene were present at a single futsal match in the Melbourne Futsal League throughout the year, to assess how coaches perform and what the standard of Futsal is in Victoria. Then again, why should they? What advise can they give to coaches, even those who lack experience? Where can they point them to for further Futsal education?

The fact that there are a number of coaches in Victoria who possess significant experience, attained the AFC Level 1 Accreditation – the highest level of accreditation available in the country – and have more knowledge about the sport than the 2 men combined means nothing because the Football C level is considered much more important for Futsal player development.

Some facts…

  • From 2004 to 2012, Victorian State Team trials attracted up to 160 players in many age groups
  • In the 2013, teams in a number of age groups struggled to put together a full team. Of 10 players, even worse, the U14s were seeking to fill spots with 3 weeks before the Nationals
  • Parents pulling their kids out of the program because of the final team chosen, by coaches with no experience and no concept of Futsal. Parents are no fools, despite what the powers that be might think, they watch many matches throughout the year and often notice players that make a difference for their team
  • One age group in the State team program, in particular, had the potential – based on past showings at the Nationals and players available – to not only be competitive but to reach at least the Grand Final. However, any possibility of achieving such success wasn’t possible since the coach chose to not pick a number of players who had experience at 4 Nationals.

The fact is that most Futsal clubs in Victoria don’t hold training sessions during the Futsal season, let alone have a Futsal program in place. Players of such clubs that somehow manage to get into the Futsal State Team Program get found out when they play at the Nationals against other states.

There are some well-run Futsal clubs in Victoria, that train on a regular basis and have a structured program in place, yet there are many others that get a bunch of kids together to play on match day. By the end of the season these kids haven’t even learnt the rules of the Futsal, let alone developed correct technique or an understanding of the sport.

Parents are not to blame and neither are the players, the short sightedness, lack of respect for Futsal and the oneupmanship culture is at the forefront of this issue that exists in the state of Victoria (story for another time).

Ultimately, the FFV have much to answer – through their inaction on many fronts – they are allowing all this to take place. In the past, many players from a Futsal background have gone on to bigger and better things, including: Mark Viduka, John Markovski, Ivan Kelic, George Mells (Southampton & Australia Youth Int.), Peter Skepetis (QPR & Australia Youth Int.), Anthony Duzel (Melb. Victory Youth & Australia Youth Int), Jordan Brown, Dylan Murnane (Melb. Victory) Johnny Buceto, Damien Miskulin, Kaan Korkmaz (Melb. Victory Youth) and Anthony Laus (Melb. Heart Youth). Just to name a few.

Many of the leading Football nations in the world, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Argentina have Futsal programs in place.

Brazil in particular – where Futsal is the game that ALL footballers play as juniors have won 5 Football World Cups and 3 Futsal World Cups and here in Australia, Futsal is a dirty word and we struggle to qualify for entry into either World Cups. Yet, if you were to ask anyone at the FFV, you get an answer something like “We follow ‘World’s Best Practise’ in developing players in Victoria” and then you would be shown the FFA National Curriculum.

It begs the question, Is Futsal ‘Worlds Best Practise’ in Developing Footballers? Could it be that we are smarter in our approach than the world’s best? Or are appointing the wrong people to the most important positions in developing and overseeing the development of players and the sport itself???

Time will tell…

Comments 11

  1. Can I just say the same problems exist in NSW. Parents won’t send their kids:

    1. Not the best coaches
    2. Non-fair selection ie: invitation only
    3. The teams that go aren’t “really” the best players across the league. Our best striker in our age group in our premier who scored the most goals was placed in the second team – something wrong here
    4. No transparency

    Parents are not stupid. We won’t pay thousands of dollars to travel to a comp that is full of players who are there who aren’t the best. It is not a true nationals if it is only selected players and coaches and it is not a true nationals if all kids can’t rock up and trial over 3 or 4 sessions proving their skillset.

    Simply picking kids who want the holiday and trip and the glory of saying they were at the nationals is not the way to progress the sport.

    Enough said. 90% of parents see it this way.

    1. @Charise….the NSW selections are not perfect…few are. But the picture you paint is way off the mark. Clubs can nominate players to trial so its not invitation only. Sure I have seen some selection hit and misses in my time but they are the exception.

  2. The true developers of the sport are the clubs that care enough to provide great technical directors, great coaches and a fair system for kids to learn. We are lucky enough to have all of the above. I credit nothing to FNSW Futsal. All to our club.

  3. Hi Ben. Why don’t you send this letter to FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy and copy it to FFA CEO David Gallop. FFV will only move if enough Victorians argue the point rationally and strongly. Have you thought about a petition?

  4. Here is the flaw already “futsaldad” – what if you are in one of the top teams and you have six good players and your club is only allowed to nominate two? Already you have cut the possible talent pool down to the minimum. A handful of teams hold all of the best players. Already the system is flaw and needs a massive overhaul to promote and keep the sport growing. Believe me, how are the other four players suppose to seek a trial. It’s bloody tough – you can’t. FNSW won’t let you. Worst still what if the coach wants to take his son and his son’s friend to the nationals? There is my point. Other genuine talent misses out.

    1. I still don’t think the process is as bad as you make out. I have been a parent on both sides of the fence (selected and not selected child) and feel the cream does rise to the top. Thats just the opinion of someone who has now videoed over 1000 Premier League, Super League, F-League, Nationals and FIFA Futsal World Cup games.

  5. How repetitive, Its no different from a bird trapped indoors and repeatedly trying to fly through a closed window.
    Credit to the ffv’s board of directors, they would’ve crunched the numbers, set targets and would be overwhelmed with the results, they filled every age group & saved on salary staff. looking great in the mid year financials.
    Slide the window open and you will see 30 years of futsal nationals with no progress in fact its gone backwards. Its impossible for the football federations to add value and quality to futsal programs with a plan that will bear fruit in the future if they and have to report to the board of directors and its financiers.

  6. Hi Clarise. Below is the email from FNSW re trials for the State team. It is more than just 2 per club per age group. It also includes all past eligible representative players. They do not need an invite. Plus players identified in the State Championships. Plus players identified in the Premier and State League Championships. Plus 3 by the club itself if the club felt that they had players who were good enough but were not invited.

    Those players invited to trial will include:

    • Any age eligible player who represented NSW (Thunder or Lightning) at the 2013 FFA Futsal National Championships
    • Any age eligible player within FNSW regional programs and invited to trial
    • Any age eligible player identified at the 2013 FNSW Futsal State Championships and invited to trial
    • Any age eligible player identified in Men’s and Women’s Premier and State League Futsal competitions and invited to trial

    FNSW acknowledges the contribution Clubs have in developing players. FNSW welcomes Club feedback regarding talented players that the Clubs feel should be considered to trial.

    Attached is the template for Clubs and Coaches to recommend players for each age group. Recommendations are to include players you feel should be considered for NSW State team selection. Please limit recommendations to three (3) per age group.

  7. If you are looking to blame people you should veer away from both Eugene and Les Bee who seem to be the only reason there were any Victorian teams an canberra in the first place.
    The direction for Futsal is set by the board and senior management of FFV with reccomendations from the standing committee. The decision to dissolve the Futsal department can be assumed to have been made for financial reasons. The lack of programs through the season is an affect from the lack of Futsal Department and lack of long term plan from the top.
    As for the coaches chosen this season you have to assume that those highly accredited and experienced coaches you speak of possibly didnt apply for the jobs! Nothing wrong with younger coaches getting the experience at the Nationals.
    Seperate point does anyone know why Edgard Vatchy did not coach for victoria this year?

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