FFA Nationals 2015 FINAL WRAP

Five weeks to organise… Nine teams entered… Ninety players committed… Twenty coaches and support staff… Fifty one games played… Five quarter/semi finals made… Two Grand Finals contested… One Championship won.

After a herculean effort by the Boomerangs club, a squad of nine teams was assembled to compete in the annual FFA Futsal Nationals in Sydney from January 5-9, 2015. For as long as any of the current crop of players can remember, the Futsal Nationals had been played in their home town, so this was a totally new experience for the vast majority of the players and the supporters.

Many of the players were regular Boomerangs NSW State League players, however, many others needed to be recruited to make up the numbers and to fill age groups not matching those in the FNSW State League.

And several teams needed to be consolidated to ensure quality and quantity of players. The final Boomerangs teams that contested the 2015 Nationals were:

– U12 Boys (Blue)

– U 12 Boys (White) – made up of primarily 10 and 11 year olds

– U 14 Boys – comprising around half 14 year olds and half 13 year olds

– U15 Boys

– Youth Men (Blue) – 18 and 19 year olds

– Youth Men (White) – with half the team made up of U16 year olds

– U12 Girls

– U16 Girls

– Youth Women – comprising mostly players not from regular Boomerangs teams.

Of the nine teams that competed during the week, four made finals appearances:

– The U12 Boys (Blue) who played and won a quarter final and played in a tough semi-final

– The U16 Girls made the semi-finals

– The Youth Women won their semi-final and played in the Grand Final

– The Youth Men (Blue) won their semi-final, and on winning their Grand Final became National Champions.

This compares relatively favourably to 2014 (in Canberra) where the ACT had teams represented in the eleven age groups (excluding AWD), made five Grand Finals and won two – having had far more preparation time, as well as home city/court advantage.

Reports on the week’s team efforts…

U12 Girls

This team was comprised mostly of players who play regularly in the NSW State League together in the U13s.

In a pool of eight teams, the Boomerangs youngest girls team played seven round matches, winning two, drawing one and losing four, leaving them just one win short of a finals appearance. Their two wins came in their final two rounds against NSW Country (who made the semis) and Adelaide Force, and the draw with Queensland Regional in Round 2.

A slow start saw them go down in four of their first five games had a significant impact on their capacity to make the finals series. However, the girls clearly improved in every game, and the seven games together (in four days), provided an opportunity for them to develop individually and as a team.

The team was well coached by Nat De Marco (Youth Women) and Alex Martens (U16).

U16 Girls

The sixteen girls team was made up of primarily the eligible girls from the FNSW State League U17 team, with a couple of additions. They started their tournament brilliantly winning their first three matches, but then losing their final two pool games against the stronger NSW Thunder and Lightning teams.

Finishing in third place, meant a semi-final against NSW Lightning, who had a day earlier defeated the girls 3-1. The girls lifted for the semi, but could not overcome the tough Lightning team going down 1-0 — with the only goal a heart-breaking penalty given as a result of a sixth foul in the death throes of the match. The strong Lightning team eventually ran out Grand Final winners over their NSW counterparts, Thunder.

The team was coached by Hayley Buckingham and Erin Clout.

Youth Women

The Youth Women included only a few regular players from the Boomerangs State League U17 and Women’s teams as well as a mixture of others drafted from local competitions (and two Canberra players currently playing in Sydney with NSW Premier League teams). This ‘pot pouri’ mixture of players had not played together as a group previously (although many had previous ‘nationals’ experience), and did extremely well to compete strongly and end up in the ultimate match of the tournament.

The young women had six pool games winning three, drawing one and losing only two — to the two U23 NSW teams playing in the same preliminary round pool. They finished second on the table of the U19 teams and were well placed for their semi final against Victoria which they won 2-1.

The Grand Final saw a match against NSW Metro Thunder – a replay of the Round One match which was drawn 2-2. To the credit of the Thunder team, they focussed strongly on their defensive efforts and left no avenue to goal for the Boomers oldest female team. The goal scored by the Thunder in the first half was therefore enough to win them the match and crown them champions.

An outstanding effort by this Boomers team, brought together for this Championships. A huge effort also to the coaching staff of Michelle Aurosseau, Mel Luksa and assisted by Michaela Day.  There’s always next year…..

U12 Boys (White)

The 12 Boys White were a team made up primarily of 11 and 10 year olds and were entered to provide experience and opportunity to play at this level.

The boys benefited from the experienced, but were solidly defeated in most of the matches they played. Their best games were their first – in which they were well in the match at half time with the scores at 5-5, and the pool game against Tasmania which they lost 5-0 but put up a spirited and quality display.

The boys have gained some terrific experiences and now know the standards to which they need to play to be competitive – hopefully at next year’s Championships. They have also learnt the lesson of playing strongly for the entire 40 minutes, and how important fitness is and running hard throughout both the first and second halves.

A great effort of leading these young boys by Zac Sorenson (Youth Men) and Mark Dowling.

U12 Boys (Blue)

The 12 Boys Blue team was the stronger of the two youngest Boomerangs teams at this Championships and were expected to do well. And indeed they did do remarkably well, being unbeaten until their semi-final defeat at the hands of NSW Thunder, a team with which they drew in the earlier pool rounds. Indeed this team was the ‘draw’ champions, with three in the pool rounds, to go with their win, putting them in second place in their pool.

The Championships though – for these boys, their parents, supporters and officials – will be remembered for a nail-biting extra time, then penalty shoot out win in their cross-pool quarter final win against NSW Lightning, the team that finished third in the other pool. The regulation time score of 4-4 ensured 5 minutes each way of additional play which saw no further goals scored, despite the best efforts of both teams.

The penalty shoot out saw both teams comfortably guide home the first three regulation spot kicks each – but as they entered the sudden death phase, neither team could get the ball passed the opposing keeper…..until Tim Noack, who showed maturity and poise beyond his years, calmly slotting home the winner.

A more exciting finish to a junior futsal match would be rare to find.

However good this win was though, it did not provide the momentum to continue into the semi-final later that day as the boys looked lethargic in the first half conceding 5 goals to 1 in the first stanza to NSW Thunder. Playing fly keeper for most of the second half though allowed them to at least draw the second half at 2 goals a piece, but did not provide the opportunity to peg back the substantial first half deficit.

An excellent tournament for the boys in this team, and a great effort by the coaching staff of Jake Wilsener, Regan Walsh (and assistance from Zac Sorenson).

U14 Boys

The 14 Boys looked like a quality outfit, however suffered in this competition by being made up of a mixture of 13 and 14 year old boys – and against some quality opposition that had some fairly big and strong 14  year old boys — this made a significant difference.

The boys could only manage a solitary draw from their seven pool games, but had the opportunity in almost all the losses to be able to gain a better result. Many of the latter losses were also made to look worse with the team often resorting to a fifth man fly keeper in an attempt to desperately chase a win.

Once again, the boys have benefited from the experience and will be ‘better for the run’, given that a good chunk of them will be again eligible for 14 boys again in 2016.

Coaches Nick van Aalst (Youth Men) and Daniel Giovinazzo (Youth Men) will be keen to see these charges have another crack again next year.

U15 Boys

Like the 14 boys, the 15 year olds looked to have significant potential to cause a few upsets throughout their tournament, even though they were only brought together at short notice. They managed only a single win across their early pool games, but look to have a great deal of potential as individual players and as a team.

Improved results in one of the other close games (4-5 losses to Queensland and 2-0 to NSW Thunder 14s) would have seen these boys playing in finals futsal in this championship such was the closeness of the competition. It is a fine line between playing in finals, and not in these short tournaments.

Coach, Kristian Collins, was pleased with the effort of the boys despite the lack of positive results, and has noted the potential of many of this team’s players to grow and develop with further guidance.

Nick van Aalst and Daniel Giovinazzo assisted with the coaching.

Youth Men (White)

The Youth Men (white) team was a mixture of U17s and U16s and came together to be a competitive team causing all other teams in the youth men’s competition some concern. They were certainly no easy beats and aside from defeating Victoria 4-1, held their own against all comers going down by narrow margins to NSW Lightning (5-3), NSW Thunder (3-1), Victoria U23s (2-1), and Boomers Blue (6-4).

This was a remarkable set of results given the short amount of training time together and the fact that half the team was eligible to play in the under 16s.

Even up until the final match of the round (against Boomerangs Blue) the Whites were in contention for a finals position. However, the Blue team were also on the look out for a win, wanting to end the preliminary round in top spot in their endeavours to secure an easier semi-final.

The team was excellently coached by Ben Pagett with able assistance from Jason O’Dwyer.

Youth Men (Blue)

The Boomerangs Youth Blue team had a remarkable tournament.

Aside from the very first game on the first day when they went down (in a match they could have, and should have won) to the NSW Thunder U23s, they remained undefeated through the rest of the tournament, with the only small blemish a 2-2 draw with the NSW Thunder Youth team in Round 2.

From there it was one way traffic with wins over Victoria U19 4-0, Victoria U23 3-2, NSW Lightning 2-0, Boomerangs White 6-4 and again Victoria U19 4-0 in the semi-final and NSW Thunder U19 in the Grand Final 4-2.  These results were remarkable given that a couple of players withdrew just days before the tournament (giving a shallow bench), almost every player was playing with – or incurred during the tournament – injuries that would usually have required games off to recuperate, and that key players sat on two yellow cards from early on in the tournament.

And aside from these potential set backs, five of the players involved with the team were coaching junior age groups, which required them to be at other venues and away from the team for long periods of time.

History shows though, that the Boomerangs Blue Youth team of 2015, took out the Championship despite all these set backs.  A terrific result for a tremendous team full of team spirit and camaraderie, and a commitment to the Boomerangs club.

The team was coached by the excellent Grant Davoren who guided and motivated these talented lads. Grant was assisted by Jason O’Dwyer and Ben Pagett.

A huge thanks also to the very capable physio help for the week from Michaela Day (at Dural) and from Ben Paget (at VSP) – both of whom performed many running repairs to aching and stressed bodies – from other teams as well as Boomers players.

Thanks also go to the raft of volunteers who helped with the organisation and co-ordination of such a huge effort in such as short time frame.

And finally, a thanks to our uniform sponsor, JOMA Australia who performed miracles in having strips and other club wear available in almost no time at all — a fantastic effort. Thanks Anthony.

So with that, a Nationals is done and dusted. One that for the first time had the Boomerangs Club representing the ACT. We know that the Nationals will remain in Sydney next year, however whether the Boomerangs will continue to represent the ACT we do not know. If the club gets the opportunity once again to represent the Territory at Nationals, then we will once again perform wholeheartedly and with passion and determination.

For photos of the week’s matches (most, but not all of them), please visit the Boomerangs Google+ photo site and the FNSW Official Facebook page. And for videos of the matches (that can be found) check on YouTube for the Grand Final Youth team replays (thanks James) and HERE for the U19 games. You can also find the U14 matches HERE.