FOz: Tani, what are you most looking forward to about the 2014 WFAFL Cup?
TR: I’m excited for the small court! It can be potentially messy for some teams but it will definitely bring out the flair and skills in others! Plus the keepers are constantly put to work on a small court due to the increased opportunity for players to strike from what some would call distance. But outside half way on the Brunswick court is well inside an international so a keeper mustn’t be complacent in the Futsal Oz stadium. I’m also looking forward to seeing SA again after playing some of them at the FFA Futsal Nationals and it will be exciting to see what WA has to offer.
FOz: This is your second WFAFL Cup, is there anything that you learnt from last year that you can take into this year?
TR: I think for us as individuals and as a team we have a lot more knowledge of the game since last year which I think can potentially improve our overall performance from last year’s WFAFL results. We had a draw with Parramatta Blues in our pool game last year and we allowed them back into the game when they scored using the 5th man power play. I believe our girls have much more experience and knowledge in this area of the game after all of us either participated in the F-League, Nationals or FNSW Premier League over the past 12 months. The only other thing from last year that I would be taking into this year’s tournament would be the team morale we had. We enjoyed every minute of last year’s competition by just enjoying our time out there and we made sure we had fun. There was no pressure and there was a really good vibe amongst the camp on and off the court and we just played for each other. I think that helps a team reach their playing potential and I’d like to see that return this year in our playing group.
FOz: How do you see Futsal currently in Australia? What are your expectations/hopes for women’s futsal over the next couple of years?
TR: My opinion goes along the lines of this… $%@$!^& $#!+! Haha, but overall I see this kind of pattern in Australian Futsal, 3 steps forward 2 steps back, 1 step forward 2 steps back. We are still heavily divided. The two big game players FFA and AFA are as hopeless as one another – each doing well in one area of business and then terribly in another. I think some people are realizing that if they want to facilitate a local futsal competition for fun or potentially grow that into a more competitive league they don’t need FFA nor AFA to survive and thrive and futsal is becoming a money making machine. As you will see there is a growing number in private operators. What does this spell for futsal? – Well that’s up to the individual’s interpretation. Some private operators are doing great things by filtering income made back into their Centre for player development, educational purposes and playing opportunities. However I think it is vital that any team that does compete abroad respects Australia and competes under their club, Centre or state banner especially if attending FIFA sanctioned events. At the moment there is a lot of good but there is also a lot of bad in our futsal and it is really upsetting to see. Like I said last year, we have key roles in the game filled by the wrong people and there is too much beef, politics and personal agendas. If we can get the key people from around the country from FFA, AFA and the private sector working together towards a common goal Futsal will be the ultimate winner not individuals back pockets! I’ve also noticed that “futsal people” are trying to capitalize on their own sports weaknesses. The list could go on but at the moment those things are what stand out the most for me at the moment.
Onto the better part of the question! My expectations and hopes for women’s futsal in the immediate future are to see an official Australian Women’s national team that participates in the Trans Tasman Cup, AFC Futsal Championships and Women’s World Futsal Tournament/soon to be FIFA Women’s Futsal World Cup. I would love to see more highly qualified female coaches and I would like to see the F-league expand to other states such as SA and WA as well as retaining our best junior girls instead of losing them to Football due to not having a complete player pathway! Grassroots > Club team > State team > F-League > Australian Women’s Team
FOz: This year, your team Enfield Rovers made it to the Grand Final in the NSW Futsal Premier League and only narrowly missed out on being crowned champions after a nail-biting thriller involving extra time and penalties with Campbelltown Quake. What was going through your mind when both teams couldn’t be separated in extra time and were forced to go to penalties?
TR: Nail-biting it was! You could throw in stressful as well! 0-0 after regular time and sitting on 5 fouls for the entire duration of extra time was not ideal when both teams are rather physical when we come head to head. Quake got the breakthrough goal through a 10m penalty in the 1st half of extra time and we responded almost instantly after the girls went to the power play for the equalizer which drew the scores level at 1-1. We committed another foul within the last 2 minutes of extra time and the same kicker stepped up to the spot but I took a different approach to defending the goal and this time it made the difference and I was able to make the save and keep us in the game. Once the final whistle sounded it was an instant feeling of relief that we made it through the game on level terms considering the past results in the season and the 4-1 thumping we received in the semi. But the relief wears off quickly when you have numerous people trying to tell you what to do, you have a packed grand stand who are either with you or against you, and when the referee tells you you’re first in to attempt to block the first penalty taker the pressure is really piled on! In my head my first thoughts were save at least one and hopefully my girls can sink all of theirs. I just tried to block everything out and focus in on myself, the ball and the kicker’s body language. I did what I told myself and saved the first one and set my team up for a good opportunity to lead the penalty count but it wasn’t our day. We ended up going down 3-2 in penalties.
FOz: This year, you’ll be returning to the WFAFL Cup with Rovers Futsal. During a cameo appearance for Fitzroy FC in the WV-League late last year you suggested Parramatta Blues and Rovers Futsal were potentially going to join forces when questioned in a post-match interview. Can you enlighten us on the decision to return separately?
TR: Yes we are back again as Rovers Futsal with a good core of last year’s runners up squad with 3 outs and 3 ins. Back at home in the FNSW Premier League majority of both teams played together as Enfield Rovers under Roy Cowie. It was something briefly talked about at the start of the season as a potential idea, but I think it’s only right that both teams have an opportunity to have another crack at the title. The girls that won it as Parramatta Blues last year should have that same opportunity to defend their title as well. Not to mention we had 2 cracker games against each other last WFAFL. We have a healthy rivalry between the two teams and after losing the final last year that went right down to the wire we have something to prove as well if we get the opportunity to play them in this year’s edition. Then I’m sure we will share a well-deserved drink with them after!
FO: Who are the players in the Rovers Futsal squad that fans should keep an eye out for during the 2014 WFAFL Cup?
TR: Everyone! They all bring their own unique quality to the team. Fans can be sure to see individual skill, speed, strike power, tough as nails defense and some smart combination play. Well I hope that’s what we can deliver, because we definitely have all those ingredients to produce it. But if you are watching keep an eye out for Sarah, Niqui and Daniela.
FOz: Who do you think will be the team to beat in the 2014 WFAFL Cup?
TR: Team to beat is without doubt Parramatta Blues. I’m not sure of the complete Cup list of teams but I’m sure Sydney Magic and the Vic teams will present as tough opposition.
FOz: What were your thoughts on the news of the inclusion of the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship what will be held every four years starting from 2015 that was released late last year?
TR: I instantly thought hallelujah! But it’s much more complex than it appears. We have some hurdles to climb to make it a reality for Australia. The AFC is doing this competition with or without us and we need the female community to come together to make it a reality! If female players want to represent our country the right way we need to stand as one. My contacts within AFC have told me they want Australia involved but it has to come from our governing body – Football Federation Australia. It is also vital that Australia seeks inclusion for this tournament as it will potentially be used as a FIFA Women’s World Cup stepping stone. The first FIFA Women’s World Cup is approaching fast and this year FIFA for the first time will be overseeing the 5thWomen’s World Futsal Tournament at the end of the year that will be hosted by Russia. The longer we sit back and wait instead of getting out there and demanding change together we only have ourselves to blame.
FOz: What team/player do you draw inspiration from?
TR: Any player and team in the Spanish National League – LNFS and the Brazilian Men’s and Women’s national teams. If you don’t watch the LNFS, you should be! It’s amazing. The hard thing though is you have to have a deep understanding of the game to actually benefit watching it. The game is much more complex than what we are led to believe here in Australia.
FOz: Thanks for your time and Good Luck in the 2014 WFAFL Cup!
TR: Thanks Futsal Oz, we can’t wait to come down and play!