Auck­land Fut­sal win first na­tional ti­tle

Central Leader - - HEALTH & BEAUTY - SAMHEWAT

The taste of suc­cess was bit­ter­sweet for the Auck­land Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion’s (AFF) women’s fut­sal team at the New Zealand Na­tional Women’s Fut­sal League in Welling­ton late last month.

AFF were crowned na­tional cham­pi­ons in the com­pe­ti­tion de­spite los­ing the fi­nal.

In slightly bizarre cir­cum­stances, the AFF Fut­sal team con­tested the fi­nal against an in­vi­ta­tional Aus­tralian team, mean­ing they had al­ready won the na­tional ti­tle by beat­ing out the other New Zealand teams.

The tour­na­ment fea­tured six other teams from across the coun­try in­clud­ing North­ern Fut­sal, WaiBOP Fut­sal, Cap­i­tal Fut­sal, Cen­tral Fut­sal Manawatu, Cen­tral Fut­sal Hawkes Bay, and Can­ter­bury United Fut­sal Pride.

In just the se­cond year of the Na­tional Women’s Fut­sal League, AFF have made the fi­nal both times, los­ing to Cen­tralManawatu on penal­ties last year, and los­ing to Bayside Pi­rates from Aus­tralia 4-3 this year.

Tour­na­ment MVP and joint top goal scorer Max­ine Cooper said the team wasn’t aware they were na­tional cham­pi­ons un­til the fol­low­ing day, with the dis­ap­point­ment of los­ing back-to-back fi­nals still ring­ing in their minds.

‘‘It was mixed feel­ings,’’ Cooper said.

‘‘We were stoked to get there, and beat Manawatu in the semis, but ob­vi­ously re­ally gut­ted be­cause it feels like we just can’t seem to win a fi­nal.’’

Coach Nic Downes, who in­formed the girls they had the na­tional crown, said it was an in­ter­est­ing way to end the tour­na­ment.

‘‘Straight af­ter the match, ev­ery­one was pretty gut­ted be­cause it was a fi­nal and we just lost,’’ coach Nic Downes said.

‘‘Even though we walked away with the sil­ver, we’re still na­tional cham­pi­ons, so for some who have been in the game for a num­ber of years now, I think they’re pretty stoked.’’

New Zealand Foot­ball an­nounced this year that it would be in­tro­duc­ing the Fut­sal Ferns - the first women’s na­tional team.

Cooper, who left foot­ball two years ago to fo­cus solely on fut­sal, said the an­nounce­ment would give the game a huge push through­out the coun­try.

But for the AFF Fut­sal team, there’s still more achieve­ment to tick off.

‘‘We’d re­ally like to win a fi­nal, at some point in time,’’ Downes said.

SUP­PLIED

The AFF Fustal team are na­tional cham­pi­ons de­spite los­ing the fi­nal of the New Zealand Na­tional Women’s Fut­sal League.

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