Wade Giovenali in action during the PACIFICAUS Sports Futsal Series between Solomon Islands and Australia at Friendship Hall in Honiara, Solomon Islands (Photo by Damian Briggs/Football Australia)

As the Futsalroos head to the AFC Futsal Asian Cup in Thailand, the side knows it has a tough challenge ahead of them.

It will be the Futsalroos first time at the Asian Cup since 2016, and while the squad is “completely different”, Wade Giovenali knows the challenge ahead.

“It’s just trying to match the intensity, the quality, and just concentrating for 40 minutes of the game,” Giovenali said to The Inner Sanctum.

“We had the NSDF (2024 NSDF Futsal Championship) a couple of weeks ago. I think one game we put in a solid 40 minute performance where the other games, even though they are quick turnarounds, we still need to concentrate for the full 40 minutes.

“We can’t lapse any second. We give them half a chance, these Asian countries, they’re all professional players, they’re going to hit the target and we can’t take that risk.”

2016 was also the last time the Futsalroos qualified for the FIFA Futsal World Cup, and with the Asian Cup doubling as qualification for the World Cup, a strong campaign becomes even more important. 

With the players unable to be full-time, there is some degree of difficulty in being ready for games and for tournaments like the Asian Cup.

Giovenali said that a strong camp in the lead-in is a crucial stage of the process.

“It’s hard because your family is involved in that, who wants you at home. I’ve got a 10-month old now, so I’ve got that as well.

“It’s hard, but it’s good that we’re getting a good week lead-in to zone in and mentally prepare because I think being amateurs, it’s not easy for us to just switch on at the start of a competitive match.

“We need to slowly start switching on a week before, so getting those two friendly games in before the tournament will allow us to mentally prepare for what we need to be up for and the level and intensity we need to be at.”

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If the Futsalroos were to qualify for the World Cup, Giovenali said it would be incredible for the side to return to the world stage, while also reflecting on the teams last qualification in 2016.

“It was surreal. I was a bit young back then, you don’t really realise and appreciate it as much until a couple of years later, and especially to do it with my brother back then was nice.

“I think this one will be just as special but in different ways personally.

“For the futsal community it will be incredible to put us back on the world stage and let people know that Australia is here and Australia is serious about futsal.”

Giovenali described getting to represent his country in international futsal as “hard to put into words.”

“Whether it’s your first cap or your hundredth cap, you still get the same feeling.

“You’re not just representing the futsal community especially, but you’re representing all of Australia whether they know it or not.

“It’s quite a surreal feeling. I don’t think words can really be put into place for someone to understand who hasn’t done it.” 

With futsal not being as popular as other sports in the Australian sporting landscape, it tends to fly under the radar, but Giovenali says that the game itself is the best selling point to give the public reason to get behind the side at the Asian Cup.

“Everytime I explain futsal to people or I speak to people that watch it for the first time, they’re amazed with the intensity and the athleticism that the sport needs to play at, especially at a high level.

“I’m always sending the link to our streamed games to boys from the outdoor team (Hills United, where Giovenali plays in the NPL NSW Men’s competition), because they don’t know futsal like what it is.

“You speak to them afterwards and they’re amazed and they question why isn’t futsal bigger?

“We just need to spread the word and get people on board to support us and any bit of help helps us to be our best so knowing that there’s people watching helps us push that little bit harder.”

Giovenali recognised the support that Football Australia has provided for the side recently, and wants that support to help push the game to new heights going forward.

“We went from a good period of the program from around 2009/10, that group got together for the 2012 World Cup. I was part of the 2016 World Cup.

“The program was then sort of gone for a couple of years [and] it sort of put us a couple of steps behind other nations who were taking leaps and bounds forward.

“To see how far we’ve come in the last two and a half years is amazing but we just really want to push on that FA support. They’ve been great in the last six months.

“It would be good to see them continue pushing on with us, whether we go good or bad, to see them support the Futsalroos. It would be good to see the women’s team as well, to see that get up and running, but it’s hard for me to say that when we’re barely running.

“First and foremost, we need to be consistently running. We used to verse New Zealand in a trans-Tasman [series] every year for three games. We were going to every AFF that used to be played. We just need to bring the program back to be consistent.”

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