Aaron Dahmen: Futsal the pathway for New Zealand footballers

With a sensational year of futsal on its way to wrapping up for 2017, the New Zealand National League has been hit with a furore of support – this is the moment where the small-ball game can reinforce the sensational progress it has made.

The game is one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand and more than 30 million people play worldwide. During 2015, New Zealand National Team captain Marvin Eakins detailed the exponential development of our new national game on a local basis.

“In 2011, there was 5000 people that were involved in futsal in all aspects… now we’ve got over 55,000.”

And it’s all down to the incredible hard work of one man.

If one were to bleed sport, Dave Payne might just bleed futsal.

He lives for it, and more importantly, fights for it to be recognised on a national scale.

In August of 2016, Payne travelled to FIFA, and officially submitted official documents in New Zealand’s bid to host the 2020 Futsal World Cup. The move garnered international attention, and both the New Zealand Government and Oceania Football Confederation have supported the bid.

At the time, Payne emphasised how significant a successful bid would be to the country.

“It would go a long way to achieving our goal of making futsal the nation’s best and biggest small-sided sport.”

Fact is – they’ve only kicked on from there.

With a growing media presence as well as both a Men’s and Women’s National League in a variety of different age groups – the progression has been evident for all to see.

Additionally, having Payne on the decks up top, plus Brayden Lissington and Richard Bell running the media show – this sport isn’t going anywhere, and people have reason to be excited.

Statistics show that futsal is currently the fastest growing sport in New Zealand, something which has been tracked over a number of years. And for all the effort put in, the apparent success is certainly warranted.

It’s a clear example of putting in the work – and getting the reward.

New Zealand sport is in a very good place at the moment, even if it is only for some indoor round ball game they call futsal.

Updated after originally published by Spalk as ‘Fastest growing sport in New Zealand? The journey continues.’