The big stage awaits for young Gympie futsal stars
TWO teams sourced from the Sunshine Coast Futsal Association Gympie Scorpions will represent the region for the first time in next week's 2016 Craig Foster International Cup.
The Gympie under-16 and men's representative teams will compete against rival clubs from south east Queensland and far north New South Wales in Beenleigh, Brisbane.
The SCFA, with whom Gympie is affiliated, regard the Craig Foster Challenge as the Queensland Futsal Calendar marquee event.
Gympie Scorpions men's and youth coach Sam Watt said this was the first time Gympie had been invited to attend the tournament due to being a registered club with Futsal Federation Australia.
The competition has also attracted an international presence with a Vanuatu side expected to join New Zealand's East City.
The 2013 F-League national champions, the Victorian Vipers, have also nominated for the competition as well as the South Brisbane Futsal Club.
"Teams from the F-League are equivalent to premier league soccer," Watt said.
The Vipers line-up boasts players from the national Australian Futsalroos team and the 18 Gympie players contesting the tournament have had to adjust their game plan.
The international competition will be played on courts measuring 38m x 28m - twice the size of the courts to which the players are accustomed.
Teams were chosen from Gympie's futsal competition held each Monday night at Victory College.
"We are quite happy with the teams we've got," Watt said.
"As it is an international event, we are not sure if we have got enough numbers."
Chosen teams recently trained with the Sunshine Coast Futsal director of coaching Justin Morrison, who provided the players with set plays and other skills to use on a lager court.
The teams will only have a couple more training sessions before the event on January 15, 16 and 17, with the next session tomorrow night.
"It will be a big challenge as it is hard to come back after a big break over Christmas," Watt said.
The teams will play one game on Friday, three on Saturday and another on Sunday with a final to follow in the evening should they finish within the top two.
"It should be a good weekend and gives them (the players) another level to go up to."
As Gympie opted to stand alone in the competition as the Scorpions rather than play under the Sunshine Coast banner, they will be against their affiliate club, the Sunshine Coast Waves, during the tournament.
The Gympie club hopes to see numbers increase next year with a view of being able to enter more junior teams next season.
Watt, a Gympie State High School teacher, said it was all about making pathways for Gympie players - particularly juniors - to challenge themselves and play at a higher level.
"It is a pathway for juniors to play in an Futsal Federation Australia tournament," he said.
The winners of the Craig Foster International will compete in the World Futsal Championships in Florida, USA at the ESPN Sports Centre in Disneyland.