The 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.
- 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…