In the Fall of 2019 ASA launched a Professional Futsal program with women’s and men’s teams. In the inaugural season the teams are playing an exhibition match schedule and competing in two tournaments in early 2020. As we lead up to the USFF Northeast Regional Tournament we’ll be highlighting players in this program! Thank you to Sebastian Hendi for conducting this interview!
What is your background with futsal?
I have been very fortunate to compete in a variety of futsal experiences from my youth days stretching through my adult career. I grew up playing for Baltimore Bays and Maryland ODP while my hometown, Waldorf, MD, began to embrace futsal and indoor soccer in the off season with structured and unstructured teams, leagues and tournaments. I recall a victorious U19 Maryland State Cup run along with numerous other trips to US Futsal Nationals, Regionals and similar competitions.
In my college soccer days, I remember conversations with my American University Men’s Soccer teammates wishing there was a collegiate futsal path. If it had existed, no doubt that I would have pursued a dual sport approach to compete in both. Unfortunately, my path back to futsal had to wait until after college.
Post college soccer at AU — I’m grateful for the high-level futsal experiences that have led to me to many cherished competitions, memories and friendships. Most recently, building and leading Alexandria Futsal PRO’s men’s and women’s program as director, head coach and a player, in collaboration with ASA’s leadership team. Additionally, this past fall I was selected to train at the US Men’s National Futsal team Mini-Camp in Philadelphia, PA as our nation prepares to compete in the 2020 CONCACAF Futsal World Cup Qualifiers. Additional futsal experiences over the past decade include competing with the US Futsal Men’s Open National team at the 2016 Pacific Cup and with Sporting Maryland in the National League of Professional Futsal & across many other US Futsal tournaments.
Coaching youth futsal has been another important piece of the puzzle for me in impacting the sport and community. Since 2018 it has been a pleasure to lead Alexandria’s top female Futsal ID team, the 2003 Girls. Last summer I had a short stint with our 2009 Girls Futsal ID team, leading them to the 2019 US Futsal National Championships. Another exciting futsal coaching experience to date was leading the ASA 2005 boys and girls teams on the 2019 international trip to Spain with futsal competitions at FC Barcelona, Blanes and others along the coast.
Lastly, I founded a futsal passion project, Pivot Futsal, a platform that aims to unite, educate and inspire the global futsal community. Pivot Futsal has featured many top-tier futsal spokespeople, leagues, players, initiatives and more. Check it out!
How would you compare the futsal environment at ASA others you have experienced? How would you describe the inaugural year of the Alexandria Futsal PRO program?
It has been a rewarding experience in my role directing, coaching and playing in our inaugural season of the Alexandria Futsal PRO program. I started off with a vision of a polished & organized program set on building up a player pool on both the women’s and men’s sides, and then fielding a competitive team for both in a series of exhibitions and tournaments. Our ultimate aims were to compete at a high level, provide a pathway for youth players and unite our passionate futsal community. It has been pretty cool to see it all come to life.
What I didn’t anticipate was the massive amount of quality and committed Alexandria Futsal players who tried out and continue to support our mission. As the 2020 US Futsal Regional Championships approach, Alexandria Futsal PRO will be entering TWO women’s teams and TWO men’s teams ready to compete (along with 15+ ASA Futsal ID youth teams). Wild!
Personally, I’m particularly proud to see Alexandria Futsal ID high school boys and girls players break into the pro training sessions and match day rosters — along with younger players building excitement to support and one day be in our shoes.
What are some differences or similarities you can describe between soccer and futsal?
While there are many obvious similarities between soccer and futsal, I often view them as two different sports. The technical & tactical demands, player persona, infrastructure required, and overarching mental approach can be very different. That being said, the biggest pieces that impress me when I evaluate both prospective futsal and soccer talent is a given player’s ability to positively impact a game and make the teammate next to them a better player.
Which one of your teammates has the best sense of humor? And which one has the best skills?
Peja Radivojevic (men’s player/coach) and Rose Sommovigo (women’s player) for both questions!
Peja makes some top saves on many of my shots in training and makes sure to let me know it at the end. 🙂 Rose has knack for sneaking out of tight spaces with a little flair…and is usually at the center of a water break laugh.
How does it feel to be an example to the younger generations of the ASA futsal community?
This is the most important piece for me. I’ve been very fortunate in my path and strive to inspire rising youth players. An incredible moment for myself was at the 2019 US Futsal National Championships when I jumped into the stands after scoring a goal to celebrate with my ASA 09 Girls Futsal ID team. Fun times! There is a bright future ahead for futsal and I look forward to supporting the pathway, more competition opportunities and improved infrastructure for all.
Thanks Mark! We can’t wait to continue following the development of ASA’s PRO program. Good luck at Regionals!