Stirling FC manager Leonardo de Campos spoke with SeriesFutsal.com about his team’s past, present and future ahead of this weekend’s Series Futsal Australia Cup in Perth, West Australia.
QUESTION: Can you just give SeriesFutsal.com and its readers a quick background on the Stirling Futsal Club?
LEONARDO : Stirling FC was founded by three very well-known Brazilians in the Australian Futsal community – Tiago Fracasso (former Carlos Barbosa), Victor Brauner (former Santos FC), and Diego Garcia (former Vic Vipers F-League champion).
In the beginning, while we were consolidating the club’s foothold in WA futsal, we relied a lot in foreign talent, mostly made of Brazilian players in Australia on short-term stays. Last year, we realigned our mission as a club, as well as all cascading strategies, game style, and consolidated the Stirling FC Youth Academy with players from six-16 years old.
One of our goals as a club became to develop local talent. And this is reflected in the squad we currently have. Back in 2014 (the year the club was founded), the vast majority of our players were from overseas. The situation is a lot different now, with our core group made up of Aussie players.
It’s a huge change but with a strong philosophy we could keep our style and managed to develop players, which was our main goal.
Just to give an example of our commitment to our philosophy, as opposed to what other teams traditionally do, we didn’t invite any players from any other clubs to take part in the SFA. This is just another principle that we have introduced with the club’s vision for the future. We want to focus on playing high performance futsal, but not at any cost. We can’t just put together a team full of stars from here and there and do a successful campaign based on not rewarding our own players with the chance to shine and obtain more exposure and experience on the National stage. Winning is not everything.
Q: Stirling FC finished the regular season third overall. How do you feel the season went?
A: This season was atypical for us as we had the misfortune of seeing important players leaving or getting injured and three players representing eastern states clubs in other competitions, which made them unavailable in the majority of the matches.
This was a very good opportunity to show that at Stirling FC, we don’t rely in a couple of medallion players, but above all in a well-developed season plan and game systems put together by our 3 coaches. We finished third, both in the league stage and the finals. We believe this was a satisfactory result for a club that was undergoing big changes in the brand of futsal we play throughout the season. We are now more prepared to play different systems and have a much more adaptable squad.
Q: How have preparations gone for Stirling ahead of Series Futsal Australia?
A: If you ever been to one of our open training sessions, you will see that our intensity during training is very similar to what professional clubs do around the globe. We believe we should be training at a higher intensity than the intensity applied in games so that we are more aggressive in games.
In every training session, we have a video session where we dissect key points of our game model, analyse previous games and improvement opportunities, as well as go through opponent teams scouting and our game plans.
This puts us in a very comfortable position where we can say that our training for the SFA is continuous. We are aware that some other clubs do intensify their training ahead of the competition, and may even change altogether what they do. That’s not in accordance with our strategy. We want to excel in futsal execution every week and not just in a given competition.
Not to say we have not done anything different, we changed a bit the physical preparation, as this competition sees a very intense schedule. We also arranged a few friendly matches, as we were in the SFL season break.
Q: Do you feel you’ll have a ‘home ground’ advantage?
A: We do hope that would bring us some advantage but when you come to the centre you will see that the WA people are very friendly and open to anyone.
Most of them just want to see the sport grow and they will support and cheer any club that plays a fair and entertaining game.
The atmosphere created by the public is always something very positive for us. However, the supporters can’t play, pass, shoot, and score for us. One slight advantage we see is being familiar with the court surface and measures.
Q: What is your expectation for SFA?
A: The Club’s expectation for the season that is starting is to be able to develop more talent and that less experienced players can step up and play at a higher level. The SFA is a fundamental part of this.
In this year’s campaign, we are giving exposure to lot of new players in this competition so they can raise their bar to aim for higher goals in their careers, helping to build an even more solid base for Futsal to grow.
Being one of the club managers, I hope we win the title. But, the initial expectation has to be to finish in the top four, which would be a first for the club. However, given the preparation and the effort put in the last few months for the competitions we play in, ending up in the top position would be a nice reward, and not a surprise at all.
We know that it is a difficult competition that does work players’ minds and bodies. In addition, squads tend to be more competitive as clubs taking on players from other clubs, making their “selections”, thus sacrificing development over titles. Looking at it from another perspective, the benefit is that it increases the level of futsal played, further developing clubs, coaches and players.