The winter football season may be well and truly over, but a group of Illawarra talents are in red-hot form in the indoor version of the sport.
The South Coast Taipans open men's team have put themselves in the frame for promotion, sitting on top of the Futsal NSW Premier League Two at the halfway mark of the competition. The side has notched up five victories from six starts, and can continue that winning form when they host Sydney City this Saturday.
The Taipans are the region's representative Futsal club. The sport is a modified version of football played on a hard court.
The South Coast men's outfit boasts a crop of Illawarra Premier League, District League and South Coast Flame talents, led by the likes of Adam Voloder, Tyson Black, Rick Goodchild, Kyle Del and Cody Waller. They are coached by Football South Coast competition manager and former referee, Bobby Mazevski.
"For the first time in a long time, probably in over a decade, our men's team is top of the table. To be leading the competition midway through the season is a really promising sign," Mazevski told the Mercury.
"Our defensive resilience this year has been extraordinary, we're by far and away the stingiest side in terms of defence. And it's like anything else, when you can stop the other team from scoring, you don't need as many goals to win the games anymore. I always say as a coach that your 'defence wins you the game, because your defence creates offense'.
"That, to me, has been the difference this year. We've been really hungry defensively, we've been resilient, we've tracked back and been disciplined defensively. Everyone has done their job.
"And the other thing is that we've got depth in our squad this year. We've got a great youth system and back-up, and we're seeing a lot of players available each week to play."
It's also been an impressive start to the 2023 campaign for the Taipans open women's side, who sit in third place on the Premier League Two table.
"They're doing very well, I think they're going to give it a big push in the second half of the season as they get more players available," Mazevski said.
"We've actually got teams from under-12s all the way through to the open women's and men's. As a club, we're leading the club championship at the halfway point, which means we're looking good for promotion because it works on aggregate points across all grades.
"We've been awfully close in the last few years, I think we've been second for the last four or five years. We don't want to speak too soon, but in reality, things are looking strong."
Mazevski also encouraged any people interested in Futsal to give the sport a try.
"We're trying to promote the game because it's a fascinating game - it's a bit like basketball. It's end-to-end stuff and it's very technical, very strategic. And over the summer, it's a great way to keep your football skills up between seasons," he said.
"We've got a really strong Futsal base here at the moment in the Illawarra."
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