To train less than 10 times before playing in a national championship is probably the worst preparation heading into a major tournament. To go on and win the tournament defeating your more fancied rivals along the way sounds like a plot of an inspirational movie.
The ACT u15 boys futsal side were crowned champions at the Australian Futsal Championships on Sunday afternoon (13 January) after taking out their more fancied opponents Football Victoria 3-1 in the grand final.
It was a long road to the final for the Capital Football side, who were drawn to play tournament favourite NSW Thunder twice on their way to the decider. But it was not only the draw that stood in the side’s way.
The team received limited funding, training opportunities and had minimal staff of a head coach and assistant coach, compared to their rivals, who attended the tournament with months of training under their belt and numerous coaches, support staff and physiotherapists in tow.
But this group of schoolboys, who were severe underdogs heading into the championship, walked away with the title of best u15 boys futsal side in the country.
Coach Zdrav Milicevic said the fact that his players did not have the best preparation leading into the biggest tournament of their lives made the victory taste all the sweeter.
“I went above and beyond to give them as much preparation that I could but I was limited with finances and time,” Milicevic said. “We didn’t have the best preparation this year and only managed to train a handful of times.
“We had to jump obstacles to try to get the kids to the tournament but we got there in the end and we won, so it was all worth it.”
Competing against the best futsal teams from rival states and territories across the country, Milicevic said he was always confident of the side’s ability.
“I have been with the core group of these boys for three years and I knew they were capable of going all the way,” he shared. “Once we beat NSW Thunder in the second round, who was the favourite to win the comp, everyone started looking at Capital Football.
“We were the talk around the Championship and then we beat Thunder again in the semi-finals. I don’t think anyone has beaten them twice in the same tournament.”
Though Canberra might struggle to get on the football and futsal map and struggles to get the recognition it deserves, Milicevic hopes his side’s victory makes rival states sit up and pay attention to the nation’s capital.
“We have proven that Canberra has just as much futsal talent than any of the other states. The kids here are just as good as any in other states, they just don’t have the pathway or finances here,” he said.
“People love to put Canberra down but hopefully, they will fear us next time.”