Futsal hiatus shows COVID-19’s impact on all sport


Indoor soccer at Futsal Oz in happier times. Photo: Monica Di Battista

Headlines about suspended competitions and titles in limbo tend to be focused on major leagues, but the coronavirus pandemic has also affected sports that don’t get prime time broadcasts, as well as sports played at community level.

In Victoria the popular weekly social sport of futsal has had to come to a halt, as social distancing measures were implemented around Australia.

Melbourne operator Futsal Oz has shut the doors of all three of its locations, but CEO Peter Pathimos assured fans online the company’s indoor soccer leagues would return, when it was safe to do so.

“Futsal Oz and Series Futsal will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will continue to communicate any changes as the COVID-19 situation evolves via the Futsal Oz website as well as our social media pages – we will be back 100 per cent,” he said.

Pathimos says he set up Futsal Oz with no debt, to ensure its financial viability if something like the global financial crisis (or a pandemic) were to ever take place.

He also pointed to a pre-planned crisis plan which allowed for Futsal Oz to stay afloat, saying it hasn’t had to rely on sponsors to do so.

“Having no-debt has allowed us to continue to grow our multi-media platforms and stay afloat during tough times,” Pathimos said.

With indoor soccer suspended behind the scenes his staff are working on media platforms, showing highlights on social media accounts to keep fans involved and excited for when the business is allowed to return.

Media manager Jimmy Soufis said a hiatus from live sport has given indoor players more time to work and improve an in-house app, and keep fit in other ways.

“This crisis allows for players to freshen up… every player plays with little niggles and injuries – for me personally, I’m able to get more strength training and running in the body, which wouldn’t normally happen, as there is a short turn around between seasons,” he said.

While Pathimos says he obviously can’t wait for the return of indoor, Futsal Oz will only do so “when it is safe for us, our players and fans, we keep monitoring the situation and listening to medical experts.”