The March edition of our futsal quarterly, The Power of Five, is out now with 2013 ASB Futsal National League MVP Daniel Burns taking time to discuss his time in the game, his eventful Futsal Whites season and his plans for 2014 and beyond.
Tell us about your early days in futsal – when did you first begin playing?
I begin playing futsal back in 2006/07 when I was about 19. My futsal career started when my mates and I had been playing indoor soccer for a while and decided to give futsal a go. So we entered our team into one of the local futsal competitions and ever since then we haven’t stopped playing!
What do you like about futsal?
Well it’s fun, enjoyable and challenging. You get to see more of the ball, it’s a faster game, and you have to work harder and think faster, always be switched on when you’re on the court, and you can express yourself as much as you like.
What about football – do you still play or are you a futsal specialist?
Of course I still play! Football is in the blood just like futsal is now, and I still enjoy both forms of the game. I feel both forms of the sport benefits the other. So you could say I’m a futsal and football specialist.
2013 was a great year for you in the ASB Futsal National League and in the Futsal Whites internationals. Your form was very consistent. Were you happy with your year in futsal?
Yes, I was very pleased with my performance for 2013. It was definitely a good year for me and the Futsal Whites. It is hard to be consistent all year round, I’m guessing I just got a bit of luck. For me, I definitely have to put my good form down to having such a good support team back in Christchurch. I really have to take my hat off to the coaching staff and my Futsal Whites team mates as well, I believe that the coaching staff and players played a big part in helping my form in 2013. The team gel well together and grew strong as a team with every game we played which helped me to relax and just play my natural game.
If you look back on the Futsal Whites year – it was a tough beginning with the trip to Tahiti and then the TransTasman Cup, where the Futsalroos were to too strong for New Zealand. Do you feel the side learned a lot from those experiences?
Yes, it was a really tough start to the year. It was definitely a huge learning curve for us as Futsal Whites losing these games. It not only gave us experience on the international stage, but we learned a lot about what we need to work on as a team and as individuals. These games also helped us as players to gain international competition which is hard to come by, and before a big competition like OFC playing against the likes of the Futsalroos was definitely another step up and helped us achieve the next level of performance that we needed to gain third place at the OFC tournament. The OFC Futsal Championship was very much a landmark tournament for the Futsal Whites.
Were you surprised by the result in the Solomon Islands game?
Yes – when the final whistle blew at the end of the game it took a while to sink in that we had just beaten the OFC champions. It was a huge achievement for us as a team and to beat them by 7-3 was incredible. I always believed that we could beat the Solomon Islands but 7-3 – wow!
You had a lot of court time during the tournament. Obviously you scored your fair share of goals but Scott Gilligan clearly sees you as an important ‘cog’ in the Futsal Whites machine. What qualities do you feel you bring to the team?
One of the qualities I bring to the team is my ‘never-die’ attitude, plus I’m always positive and try to support my team mates on and off the court. That, and having a professional attitude.
What about Scott Gilligan’s influence on the team? What has he brought into the environment that has made a difference?
Scott’s influence has been massive on the team. He has brought a lot of knowledge and experience into the environment which has created a massive change in the way we all think and play futsal.
It’s another big year in futsal for the Futsal Whites, starting with another TransTasman Cup in July. What does New Zealand have to do – or change – in order to beat Australia’s Futsalroos?
I don’t really think that we need to change too much. Scott is doing a great job – if anything I believe we just need to fine tune a few areas and just keep doing what we are doing.
Mainland had a very disappointing ASB Futsal National League in 2013 – the team was very inconsistent and finished well outside the playoffs. What do you feel is required to improve in 2014?
Yep – we sure did! There is definitely a lot we can improve on as a team – to start with – player discipline, defensive structure and transition when we lose the ball.
Do you think the ASB Futsal National League competition is getting tougher every year?
For sure the competition is growing each and every year which is good to see. Teams are getting stronger with new players coming through, young and old. I believe this makes for a closer competition and any team can beat any other team on their day.
Looking back on the past few years, what have been the highlights for you in your Futsal career so far?
Going to the AMF Futsal World Cup in Colombia was a big highlight. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. Plus definitely coming third at last year’s OFC Futsal Invitational to become ‘kings’ of Oceania.
Have you seen some young players who can one day make the step up to international level? Anyone in particular?
The future looks very bright as there are a lot of very promising players out there with the potential to step up to international level one day. Some players to watch out for would be Sam Mitchell, Dominic O’Sullivan, Aaron Ball and Michael Freeman.
What are your plans for 2014?
At the moment my future is an open book. My plans for 2014 would be just to continue on with the good form from 2013 and see where it takes me.
Beyond that, would you like to achieve in futsal?
My ambition for futsal would be to try and push my futsal ability as far as it can take me. I would like to gain more experience by playing overseas somewhere, and getting paid to do it would be a dream come true.
Outside futsal – what do you do?
I work full time for a printing company as a bindery manager. My other hobbies (if I’m not playing futsal), are playing football or getting out on the mountain bike. I also enjoy watching movies and I play a lot of Xbox!
Click here for the March edition of The Power of Five (PDF).