College futsal team off to nationals

Marlborough Girls’ College will represent the top of the south at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Futsal Championships, to be staged in Wellington on March 22-23.

It has been two years since a Marlborough Girls’ College futsal team competed at the national secondary school champs. In 2019 they picked up a bronze medal, before Covid halted them in their tracks last year.

This year’s tournament is being held at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington, and Marlborough will be the only Top of the South team in the senior girls section of the tournament.

Futsal is one of the fastest-growing sports in New Zealand and the world’s quickest-growing indoor sport, with millions of players worldwide. The current world champions are Argentina.

The name futsal is derived from the Portuguese words futebol (football) and sala (hall). Futsal is the fast-paced, five-a-side indoor variant of football. It is a game which combines fun, creativity, speed, technique, teamwork and quick thinking.

Since New Zealand Football implemented futsal in 2010, it has expanded by over 350%. Indeed, over the last six years futsal has been the fastest growing sport in New Zealand secondary schools. There is a Futsal Ferns women's team, as well as men's and women's under-18 national sides, so there is now also a genuine pathway for talented players to take their sport to the highest levels.

This is the second time that MGC will take a team to the national tournament – having debuted in 2019 with a third placing. Unfortunately, the 2020 tournament coincided – to the day – with the start of lockdown, while the Tasman Secondary Schools’ futsal tournament was also postponed in 2021 due to COVID-19 Level 2 restrictions.

A number of the MGC players have been involved in the local Marlborough (mixed) futsal league, and some are involved in the local futsal skills centre year-round. These are players who are passionate about their football and futsal, and who are relishing the opportunity to compete against other girls’ college teams at the national tournament.

Coaches Marcello Pinheiro and Scott Kennovin said, “It’s a fantastic opportunity for our players to go and play Futsal at such a high level, and the team’s very excited about gaining the experience.”

The team is grateful for the sponsorship they received from the Blenheim Round Table, Marlborough Triple Links Youth Assistance Fund and Redwood Trust to help them cover some of the costs of getting to the nationals, and to Marcello, Scott, Nick Stanton and Marlborough Football for coaching support and encouragement.