Auckland sides dominate uni futsal champs

The country’s largest city can lay claim to possessing its best tertiary futsal players after Auckland-based teams dominated both the men’s and women’s competitions at the National University Futsal Championships.

Held over the weekend at two venues in Christchurch, the event attracted twice as many teams as the 2016 tournament with each fighting it out for the right to be crowned champions of New Zealand. That honour fell to sides from the City of Sails as a comparatively inexperienced University of Auckland team belied its rookie status by claiming the men’s title while AUT continued its proud record in the women’s competition with a third straight success.

The University of Auckland side was coached by Futsal Whites captain and Auckland Football Futsal Development Officer Marvin Eakins, who proved that expert coaching can trump experienced opposition. Of the four teams that made the semi-finals, Eakins’ men featured the least number of Futsal National League players but overcame that disadvantage in stunning fashion with a 4-2 win over Victoria University in the final.

In contrast to University of Auckland’s unexpected triumph, AUT were the team to beat in the female tournament after claiming the title in both 2015 and 2016 but knew successfully defending their crown would be tougher than ever with five more teams standing in their way than last year. That proved to be the case as, going into the final day, AUT were leading the table but could still be caught by the University of Waikato/Wintec and the University of Auckland.

Women’s champions Auckland University of Technology.

Women’s champions Auckland University of Technology.

But the two-time champions held their nerve to defeat Massey University 8-1 in their final match and claim the title on goal difference over the University of Auckland, who were left to rue a 4-2 loss to the eventual winners in the second round – their only defeat of the competition. AUT’s sole upset came at the hands of third-placed University of Waikato/Wintec, who stunned the reigning champions with a 6-5 victory in round three.

Women’s runners-up University of Auckland.

Women’s runners-up University of Auckland.

“It was great to see the growth in the women’s side of the competition,” says Kevin Forde, the newly-appointed Futsal and Women’s Competitions Manager for New Zealand Football.

“Futsal and women’s football have both been identified as key strategic priorities for New Zealand Football in 2017. The growth in the women’s competition is a testament to all of the futsal development staff throughout the country’s seven federations who are delivering on this priority.”

The small-sided version of the beautiful game is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country at age-group level and Forde says the National University Futsal Championships are playing a key role in keeping the talent produced by that growth in the system.

“It’s exciting to see players who have come through the youth futsal framework now competing for universities outside of their home region. We know students often move city to study and that this is a barrier for people continuing to play sport. The National University Futsal Championships are an important link to give our wonderful community the opportunity to keep playing the sport they love,” he says.

“This tournament is now established as a major event on the futsal calendar and provides another opportunity for our talented players, coaches and referees to be exposed to a competitive environment.”

National University Futsal Championships Results

Women’s Competition

  1. Auckland University of Technology
  2. University of Auckland
  3. University of Waikato/Wintec
  4. Massey University
  5. Victoria University of Wellington
  6. Otago University
  7. University of Canterbury

Golden Boot: Michaela Foster (WAI)
Golden Glove: Rivalina Fuimaono (AUT)
MVP: Joint winners Jess Verdon (AUT) and Hannah Hegarty (CAN)

Men’s Competition

  1. University of Auckland
  2. Victoria University of Wellington
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. University of Waikato
  5. Massey University
  6. Otago University
  7. Auckland University of Technology
  8. Ara Institute of Canterbury

Golden Boot: Joint winners Bahram Ahmadi (WAI) and Benji Lapslie (CAN)
Golden Glove: Joint winners Mohsen Maddah (VIC) and Vaughn Sommerville (AKL)
MVP: Abdullah Amleh (MAS)