Last year was a big one for ACT Futsal. Not only did the Open Women’s team storm to victory in the Grand Final with a 2-0 win over Victoria but the Open Men also claimed the title, coming out on top after one of the all-time great finals against Victoria, ultimately triumphing in a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out after a sensational match had ended 3-3 after extra-time.
Leading the Women to Glory was Head Coach Kristian Collins. Collins has traded in his position this season to move across and take over the Men’s role from departing Coach Simon Aitchison and the Boomerangs FS boss is in a confident mood ahead of the competition kick-off in the second week of January.
Whilst this may be Collins’ first time as a Head Coach of a men’s team at the National Championship, he’s no stranger to the open men’s concept being an integral part of the Boomerangs FS club that competes in the F-League. And that has given him a taster of what to expect during this week’s competition. “I have for many years watched the Open Men’s competition at Nationals and the standard continues to grow both here and interstate,” Collins said. “For me there isn’t much separating the big three, and by that I mean NSW, Victoria and ourselves, so it will be a fantastic opportunity to test my ability as a coach against the best players and coaches going around.”
Expectation around the ACT after their success last year means that the pressure is on the team to at least make the Grand Final and repeat their heroics of 2013. Fortunately for the locals, and those with an interest in their progress, Collins’ appears to be approaching the tournament with the kind of calm and measured assurance that should stand the team in good stead.
“I don’t feel any pressure more pressure than I usually would heading into a championship,” Collins confirmed. “You always go in wanting to win. The squad we have assembled is a fantastic one with everyone working hard to develop the style I am trying to implement. I have spoken to the players about ‘adding tools to their toolbox’ so we are able to adapt to different styles and players and they all understand what is required of them. We have some brilliant players including nine players that have at some time trained with or been a part of touring Futsalroo squads. The quality is there and we will we be one of the teams to beat in January.”
Speaking of the squad it would appear that while a fair few of the team that was crowned champions last season will be back in action again, there is the possibility of one or two ‘bolters’ forcing their way into contention as Collins himself alluded to. “There will be a few changes to the team,” he said. “Obviously there is always youth coming through and some of the players we are seeing are brilliant, they deserve their chance to mix it with the best.
“Many of the players are playing in the NSW Premier League competition where they have, for the most part, been leading the competition showing that the young talent is easily ready for the task. I don’t want to single out any players, as I said we have a squad full of talent and opposing teams would do well to watch out for all them. We have a great mix of creators, goal scorers, dribblers and workers.”
The opportunity for the Boomerangs players to participate in the NSW Futsal Premier League has certainly been a boon to Collins as he looked to finalise his squad with the exposure to an extremely high level of competition making sure that potential players are constantly switched on and turning in fine performances in a competitive environment. “The NSW Premier League has certainly given me a good idea of how some of the younger players can handle that level of competition whilst some of the older heads lift when it comes time for the challenge that the Nationals provide,” the Boomerangs FS Coach commented. “Training has provided me with a good insight as to which players are working hard and want a position in the final team. It’s great to see that players are coming to training and busting themselves week in and week out.”
After all is said and done though Collins is aware that his actions will be judged where it matters most, on the Futsal courts of Canberra during the National Championships. For him to succeed he’ll need to plot the downfall of the rest of the competing states and that, as he’ll readily admit, will be a tricky proposition.
“The obvious challengers are NSW and Victoria,” Collins confirmed. “They have been the mainstays at the FFA Futsal Nationals the last three or four years. But you just never know with the likes of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland all starting to develop their players at a rapid rate. If Queensland can select all the great players that they have living there they would have a fantastic team, whether they all make the commitment to come remains to be seen. You can just never count anyone out really!”