THE FAFL CUP: Through The Eyes Of a Player
Pictured: SFL5 Coach, Raffaele Capasso, takes his team for an early morning training session before the tournament begins
The FutsalOz Australian Futsal League Cup Experience by Luke Tidy
On the 2nd of September a squad was chosen to represent the WA State Futsal League (SFL) at the Futsal Oz National Competition, to be held in Melbourne on the 22nd September. With limited time to prepare, Eldon Abrahams (SFL Head Chief and Manager for the trip) worked his magic organizing the players, training sessions, flights, accommodation, transport and walkout strips. While Raffa (Raffaelle Capasso - SFL Muita Calma Coach and Coach for the trip) had only 5 sessions to get the boys together and ready to play against some of the best competition Australia has to offer. What a challenge! One that we kindly accepted.
It has been a few years since WA has competed against other States and boy were we keen to show the rest of Australia what we are made of. We were quietly confident that we would compete but how well we would do, we had no idea. The one common goal we all shared: to show everyone that WA can play.
Departing on a Friday afternoon, the boys were all looking the part in their SFL Pele jackets. The vibe was good, the guys were all very excited and Raffa. . .well, looked like a nervous wreck. Raffa had never travelled with a WA team before. I guess the best advice I could offer him was ‘try to go with the flow!’
With boys rocking up late to the airport, the flight being delayed, Thiago’s name not on the flight list and no one meeting us at the airport in Melbourne, I was amazed Raffa even stepped foot on the plane with us. It was at this point the WA side began a very interesting, enjoyable and memorable journey.
Touching down in Melbs around midnight we made our way to our accommodation. Well, half of us did, as the other half of the team was lost in a taxi somewhere. Ah, once we were all together, the search for dinner began. After no luck, Nestor jumped in a cab and returned with 17 kebabs! The boys ate at around 1:30am, were in bed by 2am and up again at 7am! Some of the guys were looking at their watches noticing it was 5am back in WA and wondering what the hell we were doing up. Even before any breakfast could be consumed, the team made their way down to the Futsal Oz Arena for an early morning training session, to shake out any cobwebs and work off those dirty kebabs!
Obviously, this was not the ideal preparation going into what could be 6 games in 2 days! We came together as a team and put our faith into Raffa’s plan and focused on the task ahead.
Unfortunately, I’m not the best for remembering all the details of each particular game, but here is my brief run down on how the games went down.
Game 1 vs Parramatta Blues
It was a 1pm kick off, the boys had some breaky in their guts and were ready to play. The plan was simple - play simple. As this was the first time the whole team had actually played together, Raffa needed to see how players would deal with the pressure, pace of the game and what combinations were going to work for our side.
We controlled the game from the outset. Players got a good chance to get a feel for the ball and the court, to calm any nerves and get used to the speed of the game - and what speed!
WA SFL5 win their opening game 3-1.
Game 2 vs Hobart Tigers
It was a 3pm game and the boys picked up where they left off. With a little more structure and the guys now getting used to playing with each other, they started to move the ball around well. It was pretty to watch.
WA SFL5 win 4 - 1
Game 3 vs Pascoe Vale FC
Now this was the game we’d been looking forward to since the draw was released! We knew that this would be the key indicator on how our respective leagues (SFL and V League) fair up against each other and how we would fair in this tournament.
The game started at a fiery pace and you were kidding yourself if you thought it was going to let up. The size of the court allowed for no defensive error. Any slip ups resulted in a good shot on goal.
The standard of futsal was high, real high. It was nerve racking sitting and watching but very exciting at the same time. The WA boys took a 1 - nil lead and I think this had the crowd and Pascoe Vale a little shocked. Who are these guys?!? WA SFL5 baby!
From this point in the game things started to get a little physical. One might say a little too physical compared to what we are used to. We had no choice but to man up but unfortunately in the end it cost us a few injuries. Injuries that would prove to be costly as the tournament went on.
The boys played great but could not hold on to the lead, eventually going down.
WA SFL5 lose 3 – 4.
Quarter Final vs Sydney Cobras FC
Finishing 2nd in our group seemed to work in our favour - after a big Saturday of futsal we would not play until 12pm on the Sunday. This gave the boys plenty of time to get some much needed rest.
Now we were in the knockout stages of the tournament, we knew that yesterday would count for nothing if we didn’t continue with our current form. The SFL5 started solid once again and by half time we were out to a 3-1 lead. The Cobras fought hard and were rewarded for their persistence. The WA boys had a few moments of lapse in concentration in defense and it cost us badly. The score was locked at 4-4. The Cobras keeper was having a blinder but he could do little when they went down one man due to a red card. Our boys took full advantage.
WA SFL5 win 6 – 4.
Goal Scorers: Diego Garcia 3, Nestor Fonseca 2, Victor Brauner 1.
Semi Final vs Vic Vipers FC
Well, this game really made our trip complete. We were excited at the opportunity to play against Vic Vipers FC for a grand final spot - it was going to be a cracking match!
Our start was once again right on the money. We managed to bag 3 goals to zip by half time and carried on after the half scoring yet another. With 4-0 on the scoreboard I think everyone was a little shocked. Through great coaching and a never say die attitude, the Vipers threw it all on the line by playing 5th man early in the second half.
Unfortunately, due to our lack of preparation leading up to this tournament, this was not something we had had touched on. By the time we got it right, their gamble had paid off and they were right back in the match. Fortunately for us, we had enough composure to see out the game.
As quoted by Futsal Oz “one of the greatest displays of futsal that the Futsal Oz Stadium has EVER seen! . . . A game played in terrific spirits, both teams should be commended in the way that they played out this F.A.F.L Cup classic. It was refreshing to see two teams play pure ‘futsal’.”
WA SFL5 win 5 – 4
Goal Scorers: Tiago Fracasso 2, Diego Garcia 1, Nestor Fonseca 1, Ciro Rinaldi 1.
Other Semi Final Results: Pascoe Vale FC 6 – 3 Queensland FC
Grand Final vs Pascoe Vale
With a quick turnaround before the final, we had players with their legs up, players on the massage tables, some (Victor Brauner) literally with tears in their eyes from the pain they were going through, while others were trying to smash down some bananas and free Powerade.
Warm up looked tough for some of the guys but it had to be done.
Pascoe Vale FC came out in great form! They bagged 2 early goals sending their home crowd crazy! It was amazing to see a Futsal team with this kind of support. Kids were cheering away with their faces painted in the Pascoe Vale black and white stripes – it doesn’t get any better than that!
We grinded out the half and, just before it came to an end, Diego Garcia worked some fine individual magic with a great turn, shot, goal combo, one that will be sure to make the highlights reel!
This goal brought the SFL5 team back to life and come the 2nd half we came out giving all that we had left.
We scored an equalizer early on thanks to the grit and determination of Nestor Fonseca, who ended up playing the full game! With the score at 2 -2, man it was hard to watch. For a good 15 minutes it was intense, nail-biting stuff. The speed, the shots, the chances that went begging, something had to give! Brad Kneebone was like a brick wall on his near post, stopping shot after shot. All I could do was laugh.
Now with 3 minutes to go, the way both teams were playing, they both deserved the win. A flip of the coin, heads or tails, would have done it for me. But not in Futsal, the show must go on. Eventually a lapse in our defense was capitalized on by a pouncing Pascoe Vale attack, putting the nail in the coffin.
At 3 – 2 down with 2 minutes to go, we went hell for leather going 5th man tactics. We got punished for it, losing another goal in the dying minute.
WA SFL5 lose 2 - 4
All in all it was an incredible game and an amazing, well-run tournament!
Futsal Oz left no area overlooked – with the Nike kits we were supplied with, the player interviews, the 5 or 6 cameras that caught every moment of action inside the Futsal Oz Arena, the food stalls out front, the music and the free physio massages, it was an impressive weekend. It was an incredible Futsal Tournament to be a part of, and an absolute credit to Peter and his staff at Futsal Oz.
Well done to all our boys who represented the SFL and our State in such a positive and professional manner. A special congrats to Tiago Fracasso who won the Best and Fairest award for the tournament - man that guy played some killer Futsal over the weekend.
To be selected for the SFL5 is now quite an honour and this will only grow stronger and truer as Futsal continues to grow in this great state of WA.
by Luke Tidy