Fitzroy Futsal Club refuse to stop winning silverware and enter the 2022 season just four championship victories away from equalling the record number of Series Futsal Victoria titles held by a single club.
By Kosta Diamantopoulos
After another campaign of Fitzroy Futsal Club completing a hard-fought season-long haul for the coveted Series Futsal Victoria title, the Tigers now claim four of the last five SFV championships.
With the clever addition of the passionate and motivating Gabriel Zeballos, Fitzroy managed to adapt to the change in playing environment when SFV’s location temporarily moved to Brunswick Futsal Oz, where Fitzroy were victorious in both seasons.
Now with a total of six league titles, second to Pascoe Vale with ten, Fitzroy are looking to edge closer and closer to one day claim the throne as the league’s most successful club.
Considering Pascoe Vale’s recent downfall and harsh rebuilding phase, it is predicted to be a lengthy journey for the Lions to increase their tally to eleven, providing the Tigers with a fantastic opportunity to overtake their once-bitter rivals within the next few years.
Who is to credit for the success?
It is no secret that Series Futsal and Elite League clubs are often run by one of the players producing on the court. Although it is an unorthodox structure to have within a typical sporting club, in the Elite Futsal Leagues of Victoria this is highly common.
Understanding this club-managing method is crucial as it is the knowledge needed to provide the deserving credit to the brain behind Fitzroy Futsal Club, Jimmy Soufis.
Soufis can be seen sporting the Fitzroy jersey on a Friday night and has worked harder than anybody associated with the Elite Leagues to create a club that not only consists of a men’s squad, but women’s teams and youth sides that vary to as young as 10 years old.
Soufis took control of Fitzroy after Australian Futsal legend Fernando De Moraes took a step down, taking on less responsibility and allowing his younger counterpart to put his fingerprint all over what would become one of the most dominant teams in history. Since then, De Moraes' role has slowly diminished, but his influence and impact on the club still remains clear.
A number of Series Futsal Victoria’s most promising talents have sprouted from De Moraes' past development programs and Fitzroy's youth system like Scott Rogan, Cosimo Russo, Alistair Dunlop, Elias Parthimos, Abed Chandab, Adam El Hayek, Harry Robotis and more. This elite list cannot be matched by another club associated with Victorian Futsal and without both Soufis and De Moraes, none of this would have been possible.
The incredible structure and foundation of the club is not all that Soufis is credited for, as most of the praise from spectators and the league’s most influential personalities will always be aimed at the effort put in to implement intricate futsal tactics, thus promoting the beloved sport known as Futsal.
The addition of Series Futsal legend Andre Caro has only complimented the squad further as ‘The Doctor’ has raised the game of every player around him with his intelligent reading of play and ability to perform in the fixed role. Combine the addition of Caro with the inclusion of head coach Gabriel Zeballos and you get a Fitzroy side not only driven by intelligence and passion for futsal, but now a more professional structure that could perhaps be the formula that allows Series Futsal Victoria to eventually break away from the 'amateur sport' reputation.
Soufis’ fantastic efforts to cultivate an attractive club has allowed for a player as highly touted as Caro to make the move and has additionally kept Scott Rogan committed for the overwhelming majority of his career, despite the lack of funding and financial resources provided to the club. To get the best out of a player who many believe is Series Futsal's greatest asset is one thing, but to keep him around in a league that so-often witnesses players jump from club to club, whilst not providing any financial reward is a testament to a club’s structure, environment, and clear ambitions.
The only question in the near-future for Fitzroy is the recurring issue of a lack-of-depth, and although it can often be a problem for anybody associated with the Elite Leagues, Fitzroy have already overcome relative hurdles and managed to find glory with great skill and grace and will enter the 2022 season hungry to replicate recent success and secure a seventh league title.