From Chris Ayton, Founder
Since a very young age I have been very passionate about football. I started out playing with the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) in Nowra for 12yrs as a junior then, as a senior at Culburra Beach, Tolland Football Club, Lake Albert Football Club and now as a player/coach at Tolland Football Club.
During this time I have met many inspirational people and talented players. I have also been fortunate enough to play amongst and train with some of Australia’s most talented sports people, many of whom currently play for Australia and in the A-League today.
But my greatest football achievement was being selected for the Australian under 21’s Futsal side as a 19 year old to tour South America. On this tour I was also awarded the golden boot award for most goals scored in the Paraguay competition.
At the same time I was on tour, the U/17’s world cup for outdoor football was being played. I was astounded to find out that the Brazilian and Paraguayan players had only been playing on grass for less than 12 months in competition! These players don’t have outdoor competitions for their juniors until they turn 16- and it shows in the way they play the game.
On and off tour I have learnt a lot about Futsal and its benefits to players, so much so that I have brought this exciting sport to Wagga Wagga.
As a player and a father, I wanted to see my children and the greater community of the Wagga region have the same opportunities that I was able to have. I would like to see all players, boys and girls, men and women grow, develop and experience the game of football in a way that has not happened in Wagga before and in a way that will compliment and support existing football pathways. That way is Futsal and it’s a great game to play.
Futsal is one of, if not the best method that we can offer tour younger players to help the learn many of the basics of football. Played indoors on a netball sized court Futsal involves close control, accurate passing, dribbling, decision making and much, much more. The improvement in player’s skills may not be an overnight success but will offer them many more opportunities to learn the skills that they require to compete with players outside of the Wagga Wagga region.
Many countries had spectacular success on the world stage by allowing their younger players to learn to play Futsal before they are exposed to the traditional full sized field games of football. Although we play small sided games here in Australia, we are yet to see the benefits of this concept on our national teams.
South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay try to ensure that many of their younger players play Futsal before they are exposed to full sized fields and the difference in skillset is obvious when you watch these teams competing. Recently we have witnessed and increase in [participation numbers in Spain and this has allowed them to produce teams that are now capable of competing on the world stage, winning European Championships and World cups at all age levels.
Wagga Futsal would like to give every player regardless of age or gender the opportunity to play Futsal from the age of 5 through to an all age open competition. Our vision is to create Futsal competitions for all abilities, the opportunity to have both social and competitive competitions that provide a genuine opportunity for all to participate.
If we can encourage our younger players to to participate in Futsal as early as possible then it is hoped that within 3 to 5 years we will begin to see an increase in confidence, ability and skillset that produces players with the confidence to take chances when presented. In the Football Wagga competition there is a lot of talent that remains untapped, partially due to the number of sports that Wagga Wagga has to offer but also due to the limited exposure that players have to football in general. With a 20 week season football has a limited window of opportunity to encourage players to participate.
Futsal can provide a genuine pathway for our players to succeed; they will be able to represent Wagga Wagga, Riverina, New South Wales and hopefully Australia. In their clubs and representative squads there are countless opportunities for them to play, including national titles which are held in Canberra every January.
We now have Sam Gray working as an outreach officer, in conjunction with Football NSW, who has been very successful in taking Futsal into schools, both primary and high schools, community organisations and workplaces. Through Sam's hard work and enthusiasm we are beginning to see a real positive reinforcement of the game and are now provide opportunities for all to participate.
Sam now has full ownership of Wagga Futsal and in his hands we have seen great growth already and the plans that Sam and his committee have in place will see Futsal grow exponentially in the next 5 years, a great pair of hands to have at the helm.
When I founded Wagga Futsal, along with Sam and Kyle Harrison, it was my intention to invest funds generated from our competition straight back into local football to support the Wagga City Wanderers Academy programs for junior players. This has been at the forefront of Sam's mind as the competition has grown and we have successfully supported over 12 players gaining opportunities to play for Country NSW Futsal teams and through cash sponsorship of Wagga City Wanderers.
We want to continue to grow our competition and in turn to be part of the revolution in football across the region, supporting the wider plan to build and grow the great game of football in the area. The new PCYC that is planned for Wagga Wagga provide us with facility to continue to welcome new players to the game and in turn provide the platform for them to succeed.
Yours in football,