NZ fut­sal team look­ing to cup

Central Leader - - SPORT -

Fut­sal Whites cap­tain Marvin Eakins is lead­ing the national team to their goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the FIFA Fut­sal World Cup in 2016.

The Royal Oak ath­lete, along with Mt Al­bert’s Ouad­hah Ragued and Mt Eden’s Bakr Al-Saudi, is com­pet­ing in the Ocea­nia Con­fed­er­a­tion Fut­sal In­vi­ta­tional Cham­pi­onships run­ning un­til to­mor­row at the Trusts Arena in Waitakere.

It is the first time the event has come to New Zealand.

Fut­sal is a smaller ver­sion of the world’s most pop­u­lar sport played on a court about half the size of a reg­u­lar football field, with a smaller ball and only five play­ers on each side.

The New Zealand team is yet to qual­ify for a world cup.

Ocea­nia Football Con­fed­er­a­tion fut­sal de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Paul Toohey says in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion can only be good for the New Zealand team.

Fut­sal is go­ing from strength to strength in the Ocea­nia re­gion with more than 23,000 play­ers in New Zealand alone.

The boom hap­pened largely af­ter Football New Zealand took fut­sal un­der its wing three years ago.

Fut­sal is now in­cor­po­rated into football de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and at­tracts play­ers from all fields, he says.

‘‘It’s all chang­ing. Peo­ple are start­ing to see it’s not just some­thing to do when it rains. We’ve got a lot of spe­cial­ist fut­sal play­ers com­ing through.’’

In Europe, the game is pro­fes­sional which means tough com­pe­ti­tion at the world cup, Toohey says.

To get to that level, New Zealan­ders need to grab ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to face in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘The whole idea of the tour­na­ment is to give the play­ers the ex­pe­ri­ence they need. They need to have as many games as pos­si­ble.’’

Photo: SHANE WENZLICK/PHOTOSPORT

Game on: Marvin Eakins leads the Fut­sal Whites who are com­pet­ing at the Ocea­nia Con­fed­er­a­tion Fut­sal In­vi­ta­tional Cham­pi­onships.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch high­lights of the match be­tween New Zealand and Van­u­atu from the OFC Fut­sal Cham­pi­onship in 2011.

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