Peter Parthimos talks origins of Futsal Oz and its current status

Futsal in Australia is a sport that despite its chaotic, fast-paced and unmissable nature, tends to get misaligned within the plethora of sport the nation enjoy upon a commercial scale.

Participation is immense across multiple sporting organisations who operate indoor futsal competitions. Futsal Oz in particular, is the pinnacle of the latter.

Regarded by many as the premier futsal competition across the country, talent from futsal-rich nations across the globe now reside within clubs participating in both of the men’s and women’s competitions respectively.

Futsal icon Falcão, Brazilian and former Bayern Munich winger Douglas Costa, “The Doctor” Andre Caro – are just some of the many icons within the sport in whom have taken to a futsal court founded by Parthimos. With newly-founded talent emerging, the sport is on the precipice of unimaginable heights.

Peter Parthimos embodies futsal through his instinctive and optimistic nature. The Futsal Oz founder has spearheaded the growth of the indoor variation of football to unparalleled heights in Melbourne.

His ambitions surrounding the sport are on the verge of coming to fruition. But before we showcase where exactly futsal within Australia may be steering, Peter took us on a comprehensive journey immersed in the origin of Futsal Oz, its current status, and development he has overseen throughout his tenure as a founder.

What is the origin story of Futsal Oz?

Peter Parthimos: In 2003, at the age of 29 – after a five-year hiatus from both outdoor and indoor football – I was invited by my friend Evan Robotis to join a social futsal team. Despite initial reservations about the rock-hard size three ball I remembered, I quickly fell in love with the game, intrigued by its potential and the joy it brought me.

After a match, my curiosity about the league’s structure led to disappointment upon discovering the lack of professional organisation and support. This realisation sparked an idea: We approached current indoor providers and the governing body to develop the sport. Unfortunately, none shared my enthusiasm. Consequently, in 2004, we registered the business name Futsal Oz.

Our first steps included securing a venue, and by chance, my old high school in Brunswick High School had a suitable gymnasium with a full-size basketball court.

After almost two years of negotiations with the relevant standing committee, we established our first Social and Junior Leagues in 2006, and in 2007, we launched the V-League Premiership, now known as Series Futsal Victoria.

Our team’s dedication and hard work paid off. In 2008, we opened the purpose-built Brunswick Futsal Stadium on Victoria Street, allowing us to run futsal leagues seven days a week and developed the culture we know today.

In 2013, we opened a second futsal stadium in Mt. Evelyn, and in 2014, we opened a third stadium in Thomastown.

At this stage, Futsal Oz and Series Futsal had grown into a thriving community, driven by the vision to elevate futsal to a professional level and share its joy and potential with others.

How did Futsal Oz reach its current distinguished current day status?

Peter Parthimos: Futsal Oz’s journey to where we are today has been marked by dedication, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Here’s a look at how we got here and where we stand today for those unfamiliar with Series Futsal and Futsal Oz.

In 2007, the V-League Premiership, now known as Series Futsal, was established. The opening of the purpose-built Brunswick Futsal Stadium in 2008 marked a significant milestone, enabling us to host leagues seven days a week.

These facilities provided top-notch venues for players, fostering a vibrant futsal community and enhancing the overall experience.

Series Futsal has grown into a premier futsal competition, attracting top talent and offering a highly competitive platform for players all over Australia.

Futsal Oz has introduced various initiatives, including professional coaching, youth development programs, and extensive media coverage, further popularising the sport.

In 2015, we started developing our own software sports management system called WeFroth. This enables players, managers, parents, and fans to see all tables, fixtures, and team and player statistics live – goal for goal.

WeFroth is a complete sports management system that can run any sport – including features such as live scoreboard, point of sale, inventory control, and rostering.

Upcoming features include messaging services, online shopping, and a dynamic website designed for user friendliness.

This project is very exciting and offers new franchises the opportunity to set up their very own Futsal Oz franchise via subscription. This is the future of sports management, and we are at the forefront of this innovation.

Futsal Oz and Series Futsal are at the forefront of the futsal scene in Australia.

We operate multiple futsal stadiums, including those in Brunswick and Thomastown, each equipped with high-quality courts and amenities.

Comprehensive leagues cater to players of all ages and skill levels, from grassroots to elite competitions.

This includes Social Leagues, Junior Leagues, and the prestigious Series Futsal. We are committed to nurturing young talent through our youth development programs, offering quality leagues, coaching, and structured training sessions.

Futsal Oz is a hub for the futsal community, providing a platform for players to connect, compete, and grow. We host regular tournaments, events, and social activities to foster a sense of community.

We offer extensive media coverage of our games and events, including live streaming and commentary, ensuring that futsal reaches a wider audience.

Our vision is to continue elevating futsal to new heights, with innovation of our software with plans for further expansion, franchising and collaboration with governing bodies, creating pathways to FIFA-hosted competitions and leagues, enhancing player development programs, improving refereeing and ongoing community engagement.

Did Futsal Oz experience setbacks throughout the pandemic?

Peter Parthimos: Despite being heavily impacted during the COVID-19 period, Futsal Oz had to realign its vision and direction, leading to further develop software that can include new private ownership and making available the dream for enthusiast just like myself to run and operate their very own Futsal Oz via a software subscription which can be done from any part of the world.

We have done all the development from start to finish, which will allow a smooth operation for anyone who wants a career as a Futsal Oz owner.

Futsal Oz and Series Futsal have evolved and become synonymous with quality, passion, and growth in the futsal world. We remain dedicated to advancing the sport for all who love and play it, both as a junior grassroots sport and for social league enthusiasts.

What is an aspect of the business you are most proud of?

Peter Parthimos: I am grateful to be able to discover and develop talented people on and off the court, seeing players come in as a junior and developing into leaders, some working alongside me and other leading their clubs.

I am also grateful of the amazing community we have discovered over the last 20 years, we have seen couples get together, we have seen their children develop and without doubt we have seen unbelievable respect for all cultures from all walks of life.

I speak on behalf of my wife, Effie, that we are both very grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to raise our own children, Evangelia, Elias and Nicholas in the Futsal Oz environment and business whilst pursuing my dreams and goals.

As difficult as this may have been at times, I always had my family close by. Overall, I am extremely proud of the Futsal Oz family we have all discovered.

Jack Spring: The rising star in film directing with ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary

As a Grimsby Town fan at heart, Jack Spring’s career as a film director continues to grow through the ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary.

Born in London, Spring made his debut at the age of 19, with comedy film ‘Destination: Dewsbury’.

In 2021, he directed ‘Three Day Millionaire’ as his second feature film – starring Colm Meaney which drew critical acclaim and reached a #5 rating on Netflix in the UK.

Speaking to Soccerscene after the completion of ‘All Town Aren’t We’, Spring discusses his film directing journey to date, the origins of the documentary, key components of the editing process and his personal connection to Grimsby Town.

What led you into a directing career?

Jack Spring: My Dad and I made these little stop-motion animations such as David and Goliath and play figures that went on Windows Movie Maker, and we used the very early digital stills cameras.

When I was about 12 or 13, my friend at school got a Mac which had a digital video camera, and every weekend we’d make these small little clips.

From the age of 13, it really snowballed from there and I’m lucky that I knew what I wanted to do early on.

The harder part was learning all about the financial side and raising money in the notoriously unglamorous aspects that were involved.

I did go to university, but I found I was teaching myself more outside of that by making short films every weekend and I ended up making around 100 of those.

I made the decision to drop out of university because I needed to raise money, given investors were not keen on me as I was only 18 – it prompted me to figure out what to do next.

There was a startup company that I created, which taught me a whole lot about business – such as how to budget, how to schedule and to manage teams.

Off the back of that I went to those investors to show what I could do at a younger age, and I believe it helps to start young to get your foot in the door earlier.

Tell us about how the All Town Aren’t We documentary originated and what it was like creating it?

Jack Spring: All Town Aren’t We was the first series we’ve done; we did a couple pilots beforehand.

It was quite intimidating because we decided to do the documentary project after the story happened, literally walking down the steps after the final.

I’m a big Grimsby fan and my production company owns the Club, so it made sense to put the two together.

When it came to interviewing footballers, in top-flight competitions like the English Premier League or A-League in Australia you see the players as very media-trained and they don’t give the interviewer much.

However, at Grimsby Town they were brilliant, I was far more nervous interviewing my heroes in Grimsby than any other typical player.

Everyone was great in telling emotional stories and you see the players and staff more as actors rather than footballers with usual responses.

There were so many stories to be told and some of them didn’t even make the final cut. For example, parents that were disabled and the lengths that it took to get the game, or Harry Clifton – a homegrown player and cult hero – having to cope with his grandad dying just after getting relegated.

It’s a credit to the players for opening up as I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

How was the editing process and making those tough decisions on what to include or exclude?

Jack Spring: I deliberately worked with an editor who wasn’t a Grimsby fan supporter.

The reason behind that was he would work out which storylines only Grimsby Town fans would care about, and what general sports fans would pay attention to.

It was really helpful because the storylines that I thought would be worth it didn’t make the final cut as the editor did not think it was important enough.

If I didn’t have that, there would be far too many Grimsby Town-specific narratives like players getting dropped which the general person wouldn’t be drawn into.

What would you say to those who haven’t seen the documentary?

Jack Spring: The 12-month journey is genuinely the wildest sporting story to exist.

Grimsby Town has spent the last 20 years flirting between League 2 and non-league football, where the Club found itself in non-league for just the second time in its history.

There’s a massive difference in terms of the clubs that play there – as people are made redundant, there’s a lot less money involved and it genuinely affects an awful lot of people in the town.

Two local business owners bought the club as they were relegated, who are the best thing to have ever happened to Grimsby Town.

The documentary is the next 12 months since that change, which is bonkers.

Without giving away the ending, Grimsby Town’s whole season became very dramatic to see if they can even make the playoffs based on previous form.

The final episodes included possibly the best football game ever played against Wrexham AFC in a semi-final.

It’s one of the best sporting stories because it’s essentially a working-class town which used to have the world’s largest fishing port, but the industry died.

For a town that has been on a negative trajectory for a long time, to see them rise against the odds is something that will appeal to all sports lovers.

It’s highly emotional, highly gripping and an unbelievable sporting story that I was fortunate enough to capture.

All Town Aren’t We is now streaming exclusively on DocPlay in Australia and New Zealand.

FCA CEO Kelly Rourke discusses future ambitions for Australian football coaching

Kelly Rourke

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) CEO Kelly Rourke has certainly had an unorthodox career on her way to taking over this role in December last year, but her wealth of sports administration experience paired with her glaring passion for football promises to help coaches in Australia progress further than ever before.

Off the back of the Matildas World Cup success and after state federation annual reports suggesting a sizeable increase in the number of coaches participating, Australian coaching education and wellbeing has never been more of an integral part of our local game.

In an interview with Soccerscene, Rourke discusses her career journey to the present day, her overall ambition for the future of local coaching in this role and how she will empower female coaches as the game surges in popularity.

About yourself, how was the journey to becoming FCA CEO? What roles have you done and what is your background in football?

My background is in policing believe it or not. Majority of my career to date has been involved in various roles of policing from patrol work to investigations so that’s the big backbone of my career and is what ultimately brought me over to Australia from England. I came out and joined the police here, got recruited whilst I was still in England because they were on the search for specialist skills.

I’ve been involved in sport my entire life. Back in the day when I was a teenager, I played for Bradford City and Huddersfield Town so I’ve been involved in football for as long as I can remember as a player. I eventually got stolen by Rugby League and played for England.

When I got to Australia and left the police, I got into various different jobs including a Management Executive role, one with Tabcorp and ultimately, I ended up becoming an administrator for the NRL which is where I get my sports admin background from.

I’m also a chairwoman for a centre in South Australia called The Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport which is a government-funded project that will initially go for four years where we are doing a 12-month course for females to try and bridge the gender gap across all sports, all levels and all roles.

It’s not been an obvious career where I’ve worked in sport or football my entire life, but football is by far the first sport that grabbed by attention, and my career background would probably surprise a few people.

Do you have an overall plan or ambition for coaches in Australia as the CEO of FCA?

I think we need to try and offer something like the PFA does, I think a big goal for us this year that we will try to achieve is standardised contracts in the APL and NPL. We need to be securing the futures of our coaches in order to keep the talent in Australia and also to foster coaches from Europe and across the world to come over here, and that only happens with the introduction of standardised coaching contracts across the professional leagues.

That includes formalised grievance procedures, dispute resolution, tribunals. I just think it is long overdue, we really need to be safeguarding the development of our coaches but also their wellbeing. That’s got to be our starting block, we need to secure that and then hopefully we can float it out to the APL and across community football. If we don’t take care of their wellbeing, we are going to lose coaches and without coaches, there is no football.

Working with the A-Leagues and the FA on coach development is one of our most important goals. We’ve got to be driving change forward and offering similar services to the PFA who are a great organisation to learn from.

For the local game, what’s FCA’s role in encouraging a growth in the number of local coaches?

We do a lot of coach education so the FA have moved to the UEFA way of coach development, so it used to be that coaches obtained points in order to retain their licences but now its hours. We’ve been working closely with the FA to understand what it looks like and ensure that we can deliver meaningful coach education to our coaches, and we do that free of charge to our members. We host workshops and webinars with top coaches to help with that.

As a woman in power, are there any moves that you’re making to bridge the gender gap for coaching in Australian football?

I’m not sure when FCA brought me in they had a female in mind, they just wanted fresh eyes and someone enthusiastic, and I do this role because I love it and am passionate about the game, I still play and heavily involved with coaches and community football. They wanted to bring someone who had the knowledge of the game that’s got a lot of sports administration experience behind them which I do have.

The FA have invited me to a Women’s football summit in June and I think that really shows there is progress with the FA for the fact I’ve been invited. Obviously, I want to increase opportunities for our female coaches, we’ve only got two head coaches in the A-Leagues. It was good to see Emily Husband get announced as coach of the year and we’ve got Kat Smith who didn’t have a job until a few weeks out from the season when Western United snapped her up, so we really want to drive and show the female coaches the pathway.

Being a woman does it encourage that? Of course it does for me because I know what it’s like to be an athlete or a coach and not have those opportunities so a big part of my role will involve creating more stabilised roles for our coaches but also creating the pathway for women to nurture the talent we’ve got.

We need to see more female coaches in NPL teams and in the A-Leagues for sure and I think Emily [Husband] winning coach of the year is a great start, I can’t celebrate that enough.

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