Wailuku, Maui, Hawaiʻi – On November 28, Australian Futsal’s National 11-U Boys Team will be arriving on Hawaiʻi Island for a 10-day tour, where the team will train, scrimmage, and compete against select Big Island Futsal and Maui Futsal teams. The international matchup was founded through a partnership between the Australian Futsal Association, United States Futsal Federation (U.S. Futsal), and Hawaii Futsal. The delegations are affiliates of the International Futsal Alliance—formed to offer high quality international tournaments worldwide. Hawaii Futsal affiliate, Big Island Futsal, will be hosting the 3rd Annual Austronesian Futsal Cup at the Pāhoa Community Recreation Center Gymnasium, on December 1-3. The tournament was named to commemorate the migration of indigenous (Austronesian) peoples out of Africa—by way of the Pacific Ocean—to parts of Australia, Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The Austronesian Futsal Cup promotes friendly competition and cultural exchange between nations. While on tour, Australia’s National Team players will visit Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu—a Hawaiian language school in Keaʻau, Puna—where the boys will engage in cultural immersion alongside Nāwahī students through futsal, Hawaiian language and music. The Hawaiian Medium Education school was named in honor of Joseph Nāwahī: a Native Hawaiian legislator, lawyer, publisher, and painter—prominently known for being a patriot. Nāwahī was one of the principal authors of the proposed 1893 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, and is one of the founding members of Ke Aloha ʻĀina (a weekly newspaper publication) and Hui Aloha ʻĀina (the Hawaiian Patriotic League).
Hawaii Futsal’s teams include select players from four clubs on Maui and Hawaiʻi Island. Australian Futsal’s teams are selected annually through a series of school and national championships. Australia’s 2015 and 2016 (11-U) national teams toured and competed on Maui. The 2017 tour and tournament was moved to the Big Island in acclamation of the County of Hawaiʻi’s construction of five covered, multi-court facilities—in Hilo, Pāhoa, Panaʻewa, Waimea, and Pāhala. Big Island Futsal’s President, Rico Ferrari, stated, “It’s great to have the opportunity to host an international exchange of futsal and culture in the small towns of the Big Island. Although the organized sport is new here, the level of play of those who embrace the style and dance of the game shows on and off the court. We look forward to this year’s Austronesian tournament, as well as many other high-level opportunities on Hawaiʻi Island.”
Former Australian Futsal Women’s Team Player and International Tours Manager, Jodie Hammond, added, “The opportunity for Australia to participate in the Austronesian Futsal Cup is very exciting. Our players are looking forward to their first international matches. I am very grateful to Hawaii and Big Island Futsal for providing the experience.”
Hawaii Soccer Federation President, Vernon Kapuaʻala, was appointed State Commissioner by Alex Para, President and CEO of U.S. Futsal—the governing body for the sport within the U.S.—in 2011. That year, Hawaii Futsal held its first league on Maui. Kapuaʻala—who operates Maui Futsal—noted that, “for the most part, this select group of Maui players were raised in futsal—since they were 6-7 years old. For them, futsal is its own sport; not a supplement to the outdoor game. We’ve watched these children develop, and are pleased to have them represent Maui and Hawaii Futsal in the international arena. In the bigger picture, we welcome Big Island Futsal to the tournament, and are honored to have them host and join us in representing Hawaiʻi.”