COREY Smith has returned to Australia to take on the role of area manager and director of coaching at the Ballarat Futsal Centre.
The Tasmanian arrived back in the country three weeks ago after playing in the English Futsal League for Middlesbrough and coaching at their academy.
Smith has played for Australia’s national team in France and Switzerland, and with Middlesbrough in Malta, Poland and Spain.
He also worked at the World Futsal University championships in Spain. Smith said he was attracted to coming to regional Victoria after being separated from the metro action as a Tasmanian.
“Country Victoria is fairly untapped – I want to create pathways for country kids and bridge the gap from regional areas,” Smith said.
“A lot of people see futsal as something you do in soccer’s off season – but it’s a sport in its own right and shouldn’t be seen as a side show to soccer.”
The centre in Wendouree, operating since August but officially launched in October, is the only centre dedicated to futsal in Victoria and is affiliated with the Australian Futsal Association.
“It’s always a hurdle at other centres because you have to compete with other big sports including netball and basketball for court time,” he said.
“I want to see futsal played seven days a week in the centre, to set up coaching and programs in every group and have men’s and women’s teams competing at a national and international level.”
The surface at the centre is the same used in the Futsal World Cup.
In his three weeks at the centre, Smith has already begun an academy program with children that has grown from five to 35.