Three local soccer players swapped the fields for the courts over the weekend, competing in the 2014 National Futsal Championships.
Paxton’s Brendan Iliffe and Aberdare’s Tyson Johnson both competed as part of the Northern NSW men’s youth team while Cessnock’s Sophie O’Brien played for the Northern NSW youth under-15 girls team.
Brendan, 19 and Tyson, 18, have both have played soccer since they were five, but were only introduced to Futsal last year.
Brendan currently plays soccer for the Singleton Strikers while Tyson plays for the Cessnock Hornets, and both play futsal once a week at Newcastle’s Howzat Indoor Sports Centre.
Both agree that there is something about futsal that has got them hooked.
“Futsal is a very fast-paced game and it is definitely a lot of fun,” Tyson said.
“The whole time I am out there I am smiling.
“It is a real thrill and there are definitely plenty of opportunities with the sport.”
Similarly, Sophie is a seasoned soccer player and currently plays for Northern NSW as well as the Emerging Jets squad and said that she only started playing futsal late last year.
A variation of soccer, futsal is played indoors on hard courts and is one of the fastest growing sport is Australia.
The nationals championships were held over three days at Penrith and Windsor, with more than 500 players from every state and New Zealand competing.
Despite the 40-plus degree heat, Sophie’s team finished runners-up in their division to NSW West.
Brendan and Tyson said that they had some very tight matches and despite only winning one game, both said it was a terrific experience to be competing on a national level.
The pair have now set their sights on competing in Greece in September, as part of an international tournament.
Sophie is also hoping to be selected for the Australian team that will tour Brazil in August.