Gold and silver for the University at futsal nationals

Snapshot of one of the men's games
Players celebrate a goal during their overtime semi-final victory. Left to right: Soelve Dahlin Saeter, Thomas Picken, Naji Gharmi, Luke Maynard.

The University of Auckland’s men’s and women’s futsal teams dominated at the 2017 New Zealand Futsal National Tertiary Championship in Christchurch. The women’s team came home with silver after being overcome by AUT in goal difference and the men’s team triumphed over a strong Victoria University team to claim the gold!

After a long four-day competition, the final men’s game was against the reigning champs, Victoria University. Vic had a skilled team of veterans who were looking for back to back gold medals, but this was no match for Auckland’s heart and positive team dynamic. It wasn’t just the final that seemed like a tough match up, Auckland had an intense back and forth game versus Waikato in the semi-final. After overtime Auckland pulled out the win 5-4 to push on to the final.

The University men’s team was coached by Futsal Whites captain and Auckland Football Futsal Development Officer, Marvin Eakins. Captain, Naji Ghamri, credits Marvin for “coming up with a system that highlights our strengths as a team and hides away our inexperience. After every game we were able to go back and watch our videos, ask questions, and learn from each.”

The University’s Sports Coordinator and team manager, Tracey Spray, said the victory meant much more than just a win for the players.

“We have been working towards this for three years, so it is a massive achievement for these players as well as all the boys that have contributed to the team before. It was a really tough competition and we are very proud of how hard the boys fought to come away with the national title.”

The final score was 4-2, with goals from Daniel Peak, Soelve Saeter, Naji Ghamri, and Thomas Picken.

The women’s competition was slightly different, in that there were no playoffs. The winner was determined firstly by amount of wins, but in the instance of tie wins, the championship would be decided by goal differential.

Group photo of the 2017 women's and men's futsal teams, taken in the gym.
The 2017 women's and men's futsal teams.

After playing a tough seven games, Auckland’s women’s team was sitting at the top of the table with a 6-1 winning streak, only losing to AUT. However that proved to be not quite enough, as Auckland fell just shy of the gold to AUT who had the greater goal difference.

The men’s and women’s teams were filled with energy throughout the weekend, and represented the University proudly. Naji said he was honoured and proud to be part of the team.

“The culture within the team starting from the coaches and management to our girls was and is unlike anything I've experienced. We fought for each other, we lifted each other and together we became perfect – undefeated.”