The Wakatipu’s latest sporting heroes are samba-thing special – 12 Brazilian soccer nuts who eat, sleep and breathe indoor football.
Queenstown Falcons were recently crowned South Island futsal champions for the second year in a row.
Not bad going for a team of resort workers who only started playing the game seriously at the start of 2008.
“We wear the famous shirts of our national soccer side to give us inspiration,” Falcons goalkeeper Andre Lindemeyer says.
“Futsal is suited to the Brazilian style because it involves a lot of close control and ball work.”
Local fans can see the Falcons’ dazzling skills at a five-a-side invitational tournament being staged at Wakatipu High on Saturday and Sunday.
After that, the team gets in training for the futsal national champs in Christchurch in February and aims to play at international events in Australia and China next year. The squad is made up of South Americans living in the resort and includes hospitality workers, labourers and a chef.
To them, futsal isn’t just a weekend kickaround. Every Thursday night they get together for a meal and drinks – and to mastermind their next victory.
“We like to talk tactics and getting around the table at someone’s house is a great way of doing that,” says Lindemeyer, 27, a Telecom technician and a Falcons founding member.
“Football of any kind is more than just a game to us. It’s more like a way of life.”
Lindemeyer is delighted the team has come from nowhere to twice become South Island champs.
They clinched the title at a tournament in Timaru on October 25.
In 2008 they won it in Christchurch. Their exploits have even made it on to YouTube where there are videos of
them in action. The Falcons also recently sealed a sponsorship deal with Auckland-based international money transfer company Real Transfers.
“I suppose we have been a bit surprised at how quickly we started winning things,” Lindemeyer says.
“We are not in any league and tend to just play against other local teams at the Events Centre on a Friday and Sunday.”
This weekend’s futsal event at Wakatipu High has six teams from Queenstown, with others expected from Dunedin, Cromwell and Wanaka, and kicks off at 6pm on Saturday and 9am Sunday.
What is futsal?
Variant of standard soccer played indoors on hard court surface
Smaller ball with less bounce than regular football
Two teams, each of five players including goalie – up to seven substitutes permitted per team
Match consists of two 20-minute halves
Rules encourage improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in tight spaces