Andre Caro, or ‘The Doctor’ as he’s known across his social media channels, has accumulated over a hundred thousand followers on Facebook and Instagram – a popularity that is matched by his passion for futsal.
Growing up in Brazil, the 31-year-old fell in love with the small-sided version of the game – beginning to play the sport when he was just five years old.
After years of playing at a good level in Brazil, for renowned futsal clubs such as Pulo Futsal Campinas, he moved to Melbourne at the age of 20 to initially study English for six months.
“The week I arrived in Australia I got my first job at Futsal Oz and that was my only job for the next 10 years,” Caro told Soccerscene.
“I was a junior coach, I ran futsal competitions, I still played in a top team and I helped organise major tournaments like the junior Futsal Oz nationals, which had over 140 teams in it.”
Alongside this role, Caro continued to build up his social media profile to help promote and spread awareness of the sport of futsal in Australia. Across his channels, he regularly posts skills videos, coaching drills and a wide range of other content including podcasts with key futsal figures.
“The whole idea of growing my social media was that futsal was not talked about in Australia for a long time,” he said.
“When I came here 11 years ago, no one knew about futsal. The only way to get the word across was through growing my social media.”
His strong knowledge of the game would also catch on substantially with an international audience, which led to a recent opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I got an opportunity through my social media content last year. The senior head coach at Al Nasr Futsal Club in UAE, Rafael Fogageiro, asked me to become his assistant coach and also to become the head coach of the U20’s for a season.”
Overall, it would be a successful experience for Caro.
Al Nasr would end up finishing second in the UAE Futsal League, with the club winning the Etihad and Presidents Cup in the same season. The U20 team also finished second in the UAE League and won the Presidents Cup.
The 31-year-old explained that he learnt a lot in his time in Dubai, enjoying the challenge.
“It was just about working for a professional club again,” he said.
“Everything that comes with working in that professional environment, the pressure to perform and win. If you lose a couple of games, you could lose your job. We were lucky we had a very successful season and won a lot of trophies.”
Eager to return to Australia after the overseas coaching stint, he decided to begin his own futsal academy ‘Caro Futsal’ and get back to coaching kids, which is his main passion.
“Basically, I wanted to go back and start coaching kids and give back to the community,” he said.
“So, I got back in June this year and started my own academy. It’s been a good start even though we’re during covid – it’s just growing every day.”
Coaching thousands of players throughout his time in Australia, Caro finds joy in watching these individuals grow, but claims more must be done by administrators for the sport to flourish.
“We currently don’t have a national futsal team, FA cut the funds in 2019,” he said.
“There is currently no official national futsal league in Australia.
“The number of people playing futsal is always increasing, but the main issue is there is no real pathway to the national team or to an official national league.”
When it comes to a national league in Australia, Caro believes a conference type model should be an initial starting point before progressing further in the future.
“I think because Australia is a big country it will be hard to have a national league,” he said.
“We should be concentrating on starting a conference type league, where we have a strong state league in each state and the winners get together once a year or a period of four weeks for example.
“Because it will be hard overall as there’s not enough money for teams to travel around.
“I believe a conference system in Australia will be the best way to start and later on we could be looking at a fully national league.”
For now, however, ‘The Doctor’ is just looking forward to getting back onto the futsal court as Melbourne emerges from its sixth lockdown today.
“I can’t wait to get back out there and play,” he said.