The Futsal Ferns’ golden introduction to the international game has continued after sweeping all before them across the ditch to claim the Gold Coast International Futsal Challenge title.
Despite only being formed less than two years ago, it’s the second piece of the silverware picked up by the Futsal Ferns, who also won the Trans-Pacific Futsal Cup against New Caledonia in their debut outing in September of 2017.
Their latest success came at the expense of some of the finest domestic teams in Australia, the Ferns defeating Football Queensland, Football West and Football Victoria on two occasions each in a double round robin.
“We’re all very happy with what we achieved,” coach Nic Downes says.
“We set out to win it but we also had a number of objectives underneath that which we wanted to complete as well, on and off the court. Everyone did what they needed to do, put a lot of effort in and came away with everything we wanted to get out of it.”
The New Zealanders were deserving winners, underlining their superiority by outscoring their opponents 24 to eight across their six matches and playing an entertaining brand of futsal.
The goals were shared around with nine different players finding the net but Dayna Manak and Rebecca Lake top scored with four each while Leah Gubb and Tessa Leong both notched three.
Jess Verdon, Sarah Alder, Maxine Cooper and Francesca Grange all struck doubles.
Captain Cooper and her team mates had little idea of what to expect when they crossed the Tasman but Downes says the standard was high.
“It was unknown and we played in the first game so we had no way of seeing the other teams before hand,” he admits.
“But we knew it would be challenging as a club team from Australia came over to our national league in 2017 and won the competition. The level was a very good standard and they didn’t make it easy for us, the tempo was definitely a bit higher than what we’re used to.”
Downes says the opportunity to tackle a variety of opponents was hugely beneficial.
“They certainly challenged us and it was good to play three different teams with three different styles of futsal. The real learning for us was just being able to adapt and switch between styles, which is something we couldn’t get out of the previous fixtures because we played the same team three times.”
The successful Australian trip means the Futsal Ferns have now won all nine of the matches they have been involved in, laying a strong foundation for future progress.
“It’s a fantastic start and we’re very proud of that, it’s a great little record to have,” Downes says.
“We don’t want to get too carried away yet and no doubt we’ll have stronger tests in the future but we’re very proud of the players. We couldn’t ask for more with the efforts they put in back in 2017 and also the players coming in on this tour – it was a tough four days with a pretty busy schedule so they put a lot into that.”
The players don’t have to wait long to be in action again as the rebranded Women’s Futsal Superleague – previously known as the National Women’s Futsal League – is set to take place in Wellington from February 15 to 17.
The longer-term goal is to be ready to compete with the best when a historic inaugural world competition rolls around – a prospect that is now very much on the radar after being included in FIFA’s ground-breaking strategy for women’s football, launched in October of last year.
“We’re seeing more and more activity around the women’s space so we’ll look for another opportunity to bring the squad together and just continue to build so that when a World Cup does arise we’ll be ready to go rather than starting from scratch,” Downes says.