Football Queensland launches new futsal competition

Football Queensland is welcoming expressions of interest from futsal clubs across the sunshine state, for the launch of a new competition for the small-sided game, titled the F-League.

The league will be run for both men and women in a conference style, with kick off set for March of this year.

“In the 2020-2022 Futsal Strategy, Football Queensland outlined its plan to launch the F-League as part of our clear vision for futsal in Queensland,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“This new competition connects and integrates our futsal and football clubs while serving as the highest level of competitive futsal in Queensland.

“It opens up new opportunities for affiliated football clubs who meet certain criteria, to improve their club offering, increase their membership and get more kids playing futsal by establishing a futsal program with futsal-focused players.

“With Northern, Central and SEQ competition conferences planned, FQ is committed to unlocking the opportunity futsal presents to deliver participation growth throughout the state.”

The F-League is set to replace the SEQ Futsal Premier League for men and women, running throughout the year in an annual two-season structure.

“This is an important step in the development of futsal in Queensland,” FQ Futsal Participation Officer Trevor Edwards said.

“The F-League enables futsal to flourish all year long as we build a stronger and more sustainable competition framework.”

Football Queensland advises clubs who are interested to complete the online EOI form here by this Friday.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Andre Caro: Meet ‘The Doctor’ of Futsal in Australia

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.”

Caro winning silverware in UAE.

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.

Ivan Franjic: “I’m thankful and grateful that I was able to live my dream”

Socceroos Ivan Franjic

Ivan Franjic’s arrival at historic National Premier Leagues Victoria side Heidelberg United has come via an unconventional journey to say the least.

From his early beginnings in the then-named Victorian Premier League with the likes of St Albans Saints and Melbourne Knights, to playing for Russian side FC Torpedo Moscow, to playing in the third-largest urban agglomeration in Korea with Daegu FC, Franjic’s career has certainly been one to savour.

Whilst his career has seen injury setbacks, a blocked loan and unpaid wages with Torpedo Moscow – and the discovery of a potentially career-threatening rare inflammatory condition known as myocarditis in 2016 – Franjic is grateful to be where he is today and to have had the footballing experiences he’s had.

“I’ve been very fortunate with the success I’ve had over my travels, and I’ve experienced some different countries,” he said.

“It’s been a great journey and I’m thankful and grateful that I was able to live my dream and play for the Socceroos at a World Cup. Some Championships as well, so, can’t complain at all.”

Torpedo Moscow

And as for why Franjic opted to return to the NPL Victoria to take up an opportunity with Heidelberg United, a family connection and the quality of the league spoke for itself.

“My brother has played in the NPL for a fair bit and I’ve watched a few of his games. If you look at the FFA Cup you’ve always got a Victorian team in the semi-finals, so it must be saying something about how good the standard of the league is,” he said.

“I know the coach George Katsakis and he called me and my brother and said he was interested in signing us. And obviously Heidelberg have had success over the last few years where they’ve won a lot of trophies, so, they’re wanting to build a great team to have another successful year once again.

“Whenever you go to Heidelberg you see that they have a decent following and that everyone gets behind them, so it’ll be good. I’m looking forward to playing in the NPL this year and to finally be playing with my brother after all these years.”

Heidelberg United

Next year’s Victorian NPL season will mark 13 years since Franjic departed his then-Victorian Premier League side Oakleigh Cannons to take up an injury-replacement contract offer with Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar.

It was under the now-Celtic FC coach where Franjic impressed the Roar faithful and built a platform to launch himself into a regular starting berth with the Socceroos at right-back.

As a three-time A-League Men’s Championship winner with Brisbane, three-time Premiership winner with the Roar (twice) and Perth Glory (once), as well as an Asian Cup winner, Franjic has certainly been a key cog in some of Australian football’s most historic sides.

“Obviously, winning the Asian Cup is a massive achievement, it’s similar to someone winning the Euros or the Copa America. But I think in Australia, with soccer not being the number one sport, it’s always hard to get the media buzz of AFL and NRL because they’ve got a huge following,” he said.

“But when you look back on it you don’t realise how high of an achievement it actually was against Asia’s best.

“I’d had Ange as a coach for a few years and he’s no doubt one of the best managers I’d ever worked under. The whole buzz of being in Brazil, with security all around the hotel and obviously Brazil is a football-mad nation, so, everywhere you went people were following you.

“It was exciting, and I thought Australia gave a good account of themselves without getting results in that tournament.”

Each of these remarkable honours were earnt between globetrotting stints with Torpedo Moscow, Melbourne City and Daegu. But before returning to the National Premier Leagues Victoria, Franjic made one final stopover with newly-joined A-League Men’s expansion side Macarthur FC. He gave credit to the side that he helped in their foundation.

“It was no doubt a challenge starting up a new club from fresh and giving it a go. Credit has to go out to all of the staff and the owners; they did an amazing job for a club in their first year in terms of facilities and the stadium. Compared to other clubs that have come into the A-League they were very good,” he said.

Macarthur FC

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