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(photo credit: Brandon Stone, Keystone Imagery)

Gold Coast’s men’s Futsal team a force to be reckoned with

Cheryl Malone | September 2019

Gold Coast Force Futsal is the latest local team to show the rest of Australia why the Gold Coast is fast-becoming the sporting heart of the country.

In somewhat of an upset, the Gold Coast team recently won the 2019 Men’s Australian Futsal Club Championship in Sydney, knocking off the two highly-fancied NSW teams in the semi-final, then the final, and giving them rights to claim the title of the most successful futsal team in the country.

That victory came hot on the heels of the club’s stellar performances in Queensland’s 2019 Super Futsal Superliga League where they won the Open Women’s, Open Men’s, and Draft Men’s competitions, along with a recent win over Oceania Champions, Solomon Islands, in a friendly.

Ashley Gibb, head of club promotions, said the national title could mean an invitation to next year’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Futsal Club Championship, which is an important step in their quest to take Gold Coast futsal to the world.

“We love this city and we want to promote and carry the name Gold Coast Force Futsal with pride through the sporting world,” he says.

“Our mission is to develop the game and provide opportunities for young male and female players.

“To do that we need to establish pathways like this so talented Gold Coast players can go on to defend Australia in the Futsal World Cup, and maybe even play overseas in the big, professional leagues, earning six-figure salaries.

“We also need to establish partnerships with local businesses, government, and the community.”

Whilst futsal has links to football (soccer) and is governed by FIFA internationally and Football Federation Australia (FFA) domestically, there are significant differences between the two games.

Futsal is played on a hard surface between two teams of five players (including a goal keeper) and has unlimited substitutions, no throw-ins, no offside, flexible positioning, and 20-minute halves.

Nineteen-year-old local talent, Rhys Buick, who was invited to train with the national men’s futsal squad, the Futsalroos, following his performance with Gold Coast Force at the Sydney championships, says these elements make the game incredibly fast and exciting.

“In football, you can play a 90-minute game and touch the ball maybe 30 or 40 times, whereas in futsal you do that in the first five minutes,” the young striker said.

“Everything just happens so quickly and everyone’s constantly involved.

“We don’t really have set positions, meaning you can be attacking one second and defending the next, so that, along with the speed of play, requires harder and more creative play than football.”

The Force’s typically Gold Coast, multicultural line-up is coached by Brazilian-born Bruno Cannavan and includes ex-Iranian goalkeeper, Reza Behbahani and Solomon Islands international, James Edgeta, along with Buick and team-mates Thirone Correia (captain), Dallas Dack (AF Championship MVP and top goal scorer) and Scott Fenn (ex-Futsalroo).

Buick, who switched to futsal from football, says it was the game’s emphasis on speed, agility and fast feet that attracted him, and which has produced so many of the world’s leading footballers.

“Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Pele – all these amazing players came from a futsal background and still highly recommend it,” he says.

“In countries like Brazil, they don’t even start playing football until 12 or 13.

“They can’t afford to have large football pitches taking up space so young children just play futsal on the street using bags and shoes as the lines, and yet they produce so many great players.

“From what I’ve seen most futsal players who take up football transition very well, whereas it often doesn’t work the other way around.”

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