THE performance of 15-year-old Josh Gardner was the standout as East Coast claimed the 2019 Football Five5 World Cup at Speers Point.
Hosted by Northern NSW Football, it was the first time the event had been played with 16 open teams involved.
Coach Mick Day's side found the back of the net 19 times and conceded just four in five games on May 29 against some of the best football sides in Newcastle.
It was even more impressive when you consider Day's team spend most of their time alternating between a football field and a futsal court.
"We're always pushing boundaries and wanted to see how we'd go," Day said.
"It's an event that caught our eye, we liked the setup of it - 16 teams battling to see who went through and we always like that sort of competition."
First impressions were a real concern as Day's side weren't too sure what to expect.
"When we got there, we looked at the teams who were warming up thinking: 'we're going home early'," Day said.
"We didn't think we'd get out of the first round."
One of their few advantages was having Port United forward Matt Broderick in their line-up.
"He had played some of those boys in the FFA Cup, so we knew there was amazing talent down there," the coach said.
While a collective team effort saw them go through the five matches undefeated, it was one of the younger members of the side who stood up.
"Josh Gardner wasn't scared to take players on one-on-one and you can really see the training he's been doing come out," Day said.
"They were impeccable in everything they did; it wasn't an individual that won it for us, but for a 15-year-old kid to do what he did was unbelievable.
"For us, it was about the speed we were able to take the game to the Newcastle people with."
After navigating their way through the tournament, East Coast came up with their most comprehensive performance in a 4-0 victory in the final.
"The final was our most dominant and best game," Day said.
"Game one and the semi-final were the two hardest games for us, but in the final we were happy because we made it.
"All the pressure was off and we went out there and it took us by surprise that we were so dominant."
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