A bruising campaign at the National Futsal Championships in Brisbane in September saw two Camden Haven players selected in the Australian team.
Maddie Newman, 15, and Emily McKenzie, 16, were travelling home from the tournament in September, representing Far North NSW, when emails came through with the good news. The Australian team will travel to play at the USA Nationals in July 2017.
Futsal is an indoor, five-a-side version of football (soccer) played on a hard surface, like a basketball court.
“Futsal is a faster game than football. It means there is a shot on goal every minute or so. In the regular game sometimes the keeper is out of the action most of the time,” goal keeper Maddie said.
Emily added: “The footwork is a lot faster and the skills in futsal really help in football.”
Emily’s father Scott McKenzie was able to travel to Brisbane and watch the matches.
“It’s a lot more physical than outdoor football,” said Scott. “And they girls absolutely played out of their skins.”
Maddie and Emily played in the last national futsal championships in Brisbane as under 15s in 2015. They finished one point short of making the finals.
This year the team, which consisted of a number of girls playing above their age grade, played all the way to the grand final, finishing the tournament runners up to NSW City North. The Far North NSW team were the only side to give the city team, a sports academy side, a tough challenge at the championships.
“They beat all the other teams and we had a draw with them in the second round,” Maddie said.
“Our goal this year was to make it to the finals and we achieved that, and more.”
Maddie was named as goal keeper in the 16 years All Star team, which is a dream team of players the selectors choose from the championships. Naming an All Star team recognises those players as the best in their age group for certain positions on field.
Of the nine teams at the nationals, 12 players were selected to the Australian 17 Girls Futsal team.
Both Emily and Maddie play for the Camden Haven Redbacks during the regular football season. Maddie is in year 10 at Camden Haven High and Emily in year 11 at Wauchope High. With study and playing commitments increasing in 2017 the two will be also taking on fundraising activities to help get them to the USA Nationals.
They will play in the Port Macquarie futsal competition, with coaching from Mick Day, to prepare for the international matches.
Emily and her family will host a sports day in her home town of Comboyne, some time in the New Year, to raise funds to help with travel costs. The Newman and McKenzie families will also apply for grants and scholarships.