Zahli Cur­rie: Fut­sal player.

The Saturday Paper - - Contents | The Week - Vivi­enne Pear­son

Fut­sal is a com­pact ver­sion of soc­cer. It’s played in­side on a bas­ket­ball-sized court with a smaller, heav­ier ball. There are a few dif­fer­ent rules that make it a re­ally fast game. Ev­ery­thing is quick, that’s why I like fut­sal bet­ter than any­thing else.

I first heard of it when I was in Year 8 at high school. Soc­cer had been a big part of my life so when my school needed a team I got a few of my friends to­gether. We weren’t that good but it was re­ally fun. I started play­ing more and then I got into a na­tional team.

The Un­der 19s Aus­tralian fut­sal team com­peted in July in the USA na­tion­als. I was ex­pect­ing to win more games than we did; it was crazy see­ing how big fut­sal is over there.

You have to have this high level of fit­ness. I was soc­cer fit but I wasn’t fut­sal fit. Sprint­ing for 25 min­utes straight takes a level of fit­ness that a lot of peo­ple don’t have.

Ev­ery time I fin­ish a fut­sal com­pe­ti­tion, I rave about it. I hang out for ev­ery time I get to play be­cause there’s not a lot of fut­sal at my level around my area.

The team I play for is based around Port Mac­quarie so, lead­ing up to na­tion­als, I was trav­el­ling over five hours ev­ery week­end [from the North­ern Rivers re­gion of New South Wales].

I can only travel so of­ten to Port Mac­quarie but I have the best coach in Brian Hedge, a sup­port teacher at Mullumbimby High School. In the lead-up to com­pe­ti­tions, he’d train me at 7 o’clock and then I’d start my day and he’d start his day at school. I have amaz­ing coaches in Port Mac­quarie, too. Mick Day, who cov­ers fut­sal all over the NSW North Coast and coaches the top women’s team in Aus­tralia at the mo­ment, took me un­der his wing and brought me into the world of high-level fut­sal.

They in­vited me for the women’s team for the same tour next year but I’ll prob­a­bly not be able to go. I’d love to, but I just scraped enough money to­gether to go this year. There was a lot of fundrais­ing in­volved and all my fam­ily helped, es­pe­cially my grand­fa­ther, Ron. We had a trivia night, a raf­fle and I set up a GoFundMe page.

One op­tion when I fin­ish school is be­ing part of the women’s team in Port Mac­quarie but it’s hard to think about it as a ca­reer, as there is no money in fut­sal. Even in soc­cer, the top Aus­tralian women in the world are paid less to win than the men are to lose. That’s hard for peo­ple like me, and girls who are younger, who are try­ing to come into that world. I don’t want to say that it’s all about money but, if I make fut­sal a ca­reer, how am I go­ing to pay rent and buy the ex­pen­sive kits?

I work hard at school but I don’t put pres­sure on my­self. I’ll fin­ish my HSC but I haven’t done enough units to get an ATAR, which is fine for me as that’s not needed for a lot of things I want to do in life.

I don’t have any set plans. Sport and be­ing fit and ac­tive is what I want to turn into a ca­reer. One op­tion is that I’ve been ac­cepted into the army – just for a gap year. I’ve done all the as­sess­ments, all I need to pass is the phys­i­cal and that’s prob­a­bly the eas­i­est bit for me.

My soc­cer has im­proved com­ing back from fut­sal comps. I play for Mul­lum Women’s Premier Di­vi­sion team. I also dance and am a vol­un­teer surf life­saver at Brunswick Heads. I’ve been part of a res­cue but haven’t been the one to go out and get the per­son.

My an­ces­tral lines are from the Kurri Kurri area but, be­cause I’ve lived here my whole life, I iden­tify as a Bund­jalung wo­man. It’s a pretty im­por­tant part of my iden­tity, through my bi­o­log­i­cal mum. I re­ally en­joy it and I’m not afraid to tell it. I’ve learnt some lan­guage but not as much as the kids my other mum teaches at my old pri­mary school do now. I’ve learnt mostly from the songs I’ve heard be­ing part of Deadly Dancers, a cor­ro­boree dance group where Indige­nous stu­dents from schools in our area come to­gether.

You can’t play fut­sal in­di­vid­u­ally, you have to be part of a team, that’s what I love about it. You have to have such a bond and every­one feels con­nected.

I love the pace and the speed of fut­sal. It’s such an

• ex­cit­ing sport and it’s good to watch, too.

VIVI­ENNE PEAR­SON is a free­lance writer and pho­tog­ra­pher.

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