FV Head of Futsal outlines future plans: “We want to host a National Championships in Victoria”

Football Victoria (FV) Head of Futsal Anthony Grima believes Victoria is the perfect place to host an edition of Football Australia’s National Futsal Championships in the coming years.

Speaking with Soccerscene, Grima, who was recently appointed Head of Futsal at FV, explained the hosting of significant futsal events was desirable in the wake of the governing body’s plans to revamp the small-sided game in the state.

“Personally, I would love to see us showcase major futsal events in this great state of ours, such as the Football Australia National Futsal Championships,” he said.

FV Head of Futsal Anthony Grima

The 2021 Football Australia National Futsal Championships were cancelled due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with state federations still waiting for confirmation of its return in 2022.

Hosting rights to future Futsalroos matches, when reinstated, are among the notable futsal events that are also being targeted by the governing body to assist the rejuvination of the local tourism industry.

FV recently outlined their ambitions to unite the futsal community, by providing the sport with an increase in investment into resources needed to appropriately govern futsal in Victoria.

The state federation’s direction of the sport will be underpinned by the following strategic priorities:

  1. Formally recognise the sport of futsal within Football Victoria’s existing Strategic Plan 2019-2022 ‘FootbALLways’ to facilitate its growth, including in schools and to foster the increase and development of players, coaches, referees, futsal clubs and Futsal centres in the broader futsal pathway.
  2. Provide futsal competition providers and futsal clubs with a genuine value proposition to partner with Football Victoria via a revamped affiliation and support program to grow and develop futsal together as a unified futsal community.
  3. Integrate futsal within the implementation of Football Victoria’s current Facilities Strategy and advocate for increased and improved futsal facilities with local, state and federal government for the benefit of all futsal competition providers and futsal clubs across Victoria.

According to Grima, the final priority listed, centred around the importance of facilities for futsal, highlighted the need for all factions of the small-sided game to be on the same page.

“Ultimately, if we don’t work together, it’s the participants who suffer,” he said.

“Our main priority is to ensure that there are facilities for the players that are involved at a community level, but we do have some works in the pipeline that we’d love to see, such as a home of futsal in Victoria.

“There’s 40,000 players who play all across Victoria and a lot of those venues are not affiliated to Football Victoria at the moment, but we intend to speak to every single operator, every futsal club and even the indoor centre operators. I think it’s important that we all come under the banner and we support them as much as possible in a mutually beneficial system.”

Grima has been in constant dialogue with many futsal operators such as CEO of Futsal Oz Peter Parthimos, who had to endure a long stretch of inactivity at his centres due to the Victorian COVID-19 lockdown.

“Peter Parthimos has been one I’ve been speaking to regularly. I’ve known Peter across futsal circles for many, many, years.

“We are not here to compete with the providers, we are here to unite them, govern and lead them. They need direction, they need help, they need support. A lot of them have not seen their players for at least nine months, because the centres weren’t open.

“It’s really important to note, we should’ve been there providing them guidelines and support. That happened with the outdoor clubs, they got those guidelines whenever the state government released information (during lockdown), so I really felt for the futsal operators.

“So, we are here to reinvigorate them and also inspire the other states to learn from us and see how we can do things properly. We want to bring them on our journey, so when the national agenda is set up by Football Australia, everybody has been consulted and engaged properly and they know it is coming and they can be part of it.”

A strong emphasis on pathways for players, coaches, referees has also been put forward by FV, through the delivery of upcoming elite competitions such as the F-League (Victoria) and the FV State Futsal Championships.

Alongside this, both futsal referee and coach education courses will officially accredit and upskill referees and coaches from this month.

Grima, an experienced futsal and football administrator, is well placed to lead the sport into the future.

“My own experience in futsal has shown me that it is a sport with enormous appeal and potential,” he stated.

“As you can see, it is a big job ahead of us, but it is one that we are fully committed to.”

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.

Carlos Salvachúa: “Playing without promotion and relegation is a big problem”

Carlos Salvachúa was Victory assistant coach under Kevin Muscat, before taking over as caretaker manager. He has coached professionally in Spain and Belgium, including six years at the Real Madrid academy, overseeing the development of the club’s rising stars.

He spoke to Soccerscene from Spain about his impressions of the A-League, where it could be improved, and how Australian youth need to play more football to reach their potential.

What were your first impressions of the A-League?

Salvachúa: Sometimes the big issue is knowing if it’s a professional league or not – and definitely the A-League was professional. I’m talking about games, organisation, talking about flights or hotels, and training. I was lucky to arrive to Melbourne Victory – one of the biggest clubs there is – and everything in the club was like in Europe and in Spain. Good facilities, good organisation, and a lots of staff in the office. For me the first impression was really professional.

What was the level of professionalism like compared to other leagues you have coached in?

Salvachúa: Belgium is a hard competition. I’m talking about the games, not about organisation – it’s similar to the A-League or in Spain in the La Liga. The competition is tough in Belgium if we compare the level of the players, the games and the competition.

After leaving Melbourne Victory, Salvachúa was Muscat’s assistant coach at Sint-Truidense V.V. in Belgium.

What were the biggest challenges you faced while coaching in Australia?

Salvachúa: One of the biggest for me was the distance to play a game. It was funny because here with Atlético versus Real Madrid they travel 15 minutes to go to sleep at home, and for Victory we spend three days away to play a game, for me this was really hard. In the Champions League we spent five days away to play a game in China or in Japan. For me and and European players as well this was hard, because it was not easy. I remember the long pre-season because the schedule of FFA Cup was really hard for us. We trained two to three months before the first game in the A-League, just to play one round in the FFA Cup.

How do you think the league could be improved?

Salvachúa: For me, playing without promotion and relegation, is a problem, a big one in my opinion for the league. You need to improve the league from the basement – you cannot start the building of the house from the roof, you must start building the house from the ground up. I’m talking about the NPL. They are tough competitions, and you need to give promotion to the A-League, and I think that the competition will be better with this system like in Europe. I think a competition without promotion and relegation is only working with the MLS in USA. In Australia I think that it would be great to create another kind of competition to improve the league.

Another thing for me that is one of the biggest issues was that sometimes the players were receptive – they are professionals about training and have a good attitude to learn, but for me as a coach sometimes the players don’t know how important it is to win – compared to a draw or a loss. Without promotion and relegation, in some games as a coach, in the second half the players don’t understand how important it is to get a win over one point. I think that is probably one of the solutions to change the model of the competition.

How would you rate the level of young talent being developed in Australia?

Salvachúa: Like in other countries, you have good players with talent at 14, 15, and 16 years of age, but in my opinion they need more games. Some players arrive to A-League at 19 years old – playing 18 to 25 games – and it’s not easiest time for the coaches to start these young players in the first 11. If they are not playing every Sunday, they need another tough competition. You need competitive games with a second team like here in Spain or with the under 18s or under 19s – it depends. I think that they need more games here. A 14 or 15 year old kid normally finishes the competition in Spain with 45 official games. 45 games is more than the professionals in the A-League. I think one of the big issues is they do not have enough games and training sessions to develop the players. But the talent is there like in other countries.

National Futsal Championships to return in 2022

Football Australia has announced today the return of the National Futsal Championships (NFC) in 2022.

Football Queensland (FQ) will host the 2022 championship, followed by Football Victoria (FV) for the 2023 edition.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson looks forward to growing futsal’s footprint in Australia after outlining a vision for a national program.

“As part of our clear strategic agenda, we outlined a vision to create a national program for futsal and beach soccer by working closely with our Member Federations in a unified, inclusive and collaborative manner,” Johnson said.

“With the culmination of this process, we are delighted that Football Queensland and Football Victoria will be hosting the National Futsal Championships in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

“There is a clear appetite throughout Australia for football to increase its imprint through futsal and beach soccer. Queensland and Victoria now have the opportunity to showcase this and bring it to life over the next two years, in a way never seen before.”

By granting the hosting rights to different cities, Football Australia believes the NFC will be a national tournament.

The Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre will host the relaunched tournament on the 5th-9th of January 2022.

“The National Futsal Championships are a highlight of the Australian football calendar, and we are excited to stage next year’s event at the state-of-the-art Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

Anthony Grima, Football Victoria’s Head of Futsal, believes the announcement was a step towards achieving FV’s futsal strategy.

“This is a huge win for Futsal in Victoria and one for me that should be dedicated to the many amazing individuals who are at the heart of the Futsal community here in Victoria,” Grima said.

“Hosting the NFC will leave a lasting legacy for Futsal and football in Victoria and inspire and enable more people to take up this amazing sport.”

The recently announced Home of the Matildas features a international sized futsal pitch, and it could host the championship.

Kimon Taliadoros, CEO of FV, said this news ensures that Victoria remains the home of sport.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the people of Victoria. By hosting the National Futsal Championships, we will further enhance the state’s ability to host events and tournaments and support the Victorian economy by bringing interstate visitors back to Melbourne to experience the wide range of products, services and experiences that this great state has to offer,” Taliadoros said.

“Futsal has been on the national agenda for some time now, with Football Australia recently having released the ‘XI Principles – for the future of Australian football.’”

The return of the NFC will allow a pathway for players to compete against the best talent Australia has to offer.

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