By Bilal Ali

The new Head of Futsal at Football Victoria, Anthony Grima, has outlined his plans for the
future of futsal in Victoria, with an emphasis on uniting the futsal community and
providing players with a pathway to represent Australia on the world stage.

In an exclusive interview with Football Nation Radio, Grima revealed that his objective in his new role
is to formalise those pathways and ensure a more consistent futsal experience for players, coaches
and referees across various futsal centres around Victoria.

“We need to get the futsal competition providers and clubs together on the same page and
provide them with the leadership they need, and a genuine value proposition to partner
with Football Victoria via a revamped affiliation and support program that will enable us to
grow and develop futsal together as a unified futsal community,” Grima said.

“A lot of these centres have been hit hard by the restrictions placed on them due to COVID-19 and
many haven’t been open and thus they have not seen their players for over nine months,
so they need our support.

“At the same time, we will need to work with all levels of government to identify solutions
for increased and improved facilities for futsal so that our affiliated competition providers
and clubs can continue to take on new players and that as a state we can have the ability to
showcase and host major futsal events in this great state of ours.”

Many futsal centres have organised their own leagues and competitions in the absence of a
recognised Football Victoria futsal structure, with Futsal Oz’s competition, Series Futsal
Victoria (SFV), taking steps to become the highest competitive level of futsal in the state.
Grima does not underestimate the quality of players, coaches and clubs in SFV, nor does he
want to step on the toes of any current competitions, instead insisting that there is room to
come together and create a complete futsal calendar.

“We encourage all new and existing futsal clubs as well as futsal centres to affiliate with
Football Victoria,” Grima said.

“From a Series Futsal perspective, we see some fantastic clubs and teams that make up that
competition and of course it would be great for those players (male and female), as well as
those in other leagues and competitions across the state to have the opportunity to
represent Victoria or the national team.

“I’ve spoken to Futsal Oz and Series Futsal CEO Peter Parthimos many times over the years
and like others, his input and support has been invaluable in assisting us in setting up this
new framework for affiliated futsal clubs and centres.

“Personally, long term, I’d love to see the game nationally set up a pathway and set up
certain windows in the futsal calendar where futsal clubs can participate in their local
leagues and competitions during one period and then go on to qualify or represent their
centre or club in Football Victoria events and leagues in another period.

“Ideas like these require consultation and of course buy-in from competition organisers and
the community and I look forward to discussing these ideas over the coming weeks when
we conduct our first information sessions next month.”

In the past, Football Victoria has been accused by members of the futsal community of not
making futsal a priority, but Grima believes those days are behind the federation.

“The fact that we have now identified futsal’s role within Football Victoria’s
existing Strategic Plan 2019-2022 ‘FootbALLways’ gets the ball rolling. We have a strategy
and direction that can be operationalised. Everything we do at Football Victoria and the way
we are structured is based on fulfilling our obligations to ‘FootbALLways’ and my new role
as Head of Futsal demonstrates our commitment.”

Grima also believes that an increased presence of Football Victoria’s futsal competitions on
social media could help grow the popularity of the game in the state, not dissimilar to the
strategies that have been deployed with the National Premier League (NPL) in Victoria.

“There are many learnings from the NPL, particularly how the state premier leagues were
able to embrace a one-brand concept which has now made promoting the sport much
easier and more attractive to new fans and new commercial partners. Personally, I’d love to
see a similar model for the premier futsal league in each state and territory, and to come
together under the F-League banner,” Grima said.

“We should also take some positives from dealing with COVID-19, where we have seen
many examples of innovative live-streaming technology given the restrictions on spectators
at venues. I look forward to investigating further options for our futsal competitions and
events just as we have done for the NPL.”

Grima believes the steps that are currently being taken are only the beginning for futsal in
Victoria, and he is excited about what is still to come.

“I know what we will do here in Victoria can inspire not just the other states but our
national body as well to bring futsal back to life at all levels and ensure that together the
outcomes for the sport can be beyond what we have ever imagined,” he said.

“I also look forward to advocating for this great sport on many levels. It’s a game that I was
born into and played from when I was six-years-old, and it is a sport that has allowed me to
meet many great people and given me many wonderful experiences over the years; I simply
want that for others.”

Read the full interview with Anthony Grima here.