MILTON pair Kai Bowman and Michael Attard have recently returned from a trip of a lifetime, where the donned the green and gold colours of Australia against some of the top sides in European football.
The 14-year-old duo, who were part of the Australian 14 boys’ futsal team, started their preparation for their Italian tour midway through the year, after being selected following the Australian Titles.
“My preparation leading into the tour was just focusing on getting as much training in as I possibly could and getting my fitness to where I could run for long periods of time and not get tired,” Attard said.
“Every chance that I got to train indoor I took because I knew it would all help me once I was in Italy.
“I also combined my running training with a lot of swimming so I would be in better condition.”
Upon arrival in Italy, the team had a number of days to train as a whole squad and adjust to the different conditions.
“It was a very different environment to what we were used to in Australia,” Bowman said.
“In Italy, Futsal is mainly played outdoors on an astro turf surface – Michael and I had never played on this type of surface, so it took some getting used to.”
The team started their tour in Rome against Marconi FC – a match they lost 4-2 to a ‘very drilled side’ but ‘learnt from’.
The team then regrouped with a sharp training session, which helped them draw 1-all with Palestra Harmony FC.
This draw started to build the team’s momentum, showed by a strong 5-nil win against the Florence Futsal Academy and a tight 3-2 win against San Giovanni FC in Pisa.
“After two straight wins, we then travelled to Naples and played against Napoli FC,” Bowman said.
“The is a big team in Naples and has a vast number of strong players and unbelievable coaching.
“I had the opportunity to have a training session with the Italian futsal goalkeeper, who had represented Italy in the World Cup.
“The training session was highly beneficial and improved my game a lot – helping us win 5-3 against Napoli.”
The Australian team then finished off their tour with a gutsy 6-4 loss to AS Roma, another tight defeat to Marconi FC 4-3 and finally a win against Palalevante FC 4-1 – which ended their tour on a high.
“In my opinion the hardest team that we played was the AS Roma futsal team in Rome,” Attard said.
“They were a very well coached team with players, not just from Italy.
“They also had players from neighbouring countries who they brought into their youth academies.”
Overall, Bowman, who will treasure the fact he and his close mate Attard represented their country together abroad, thought the team performed well.
“The team performed to an international standard and all bettered their games extensively,” Bowman said.
“We all bonded extremely well and will never forget the memories we made together.
“We gave the Italians a run for their money coming out with four wins out of the eight games.
“On top of that, I learnt rotation and communication are a huge part of futsal and without the two features you wouldn't be able to function as a team – the Italians did both these extremely well.”
Echoing Bowman’s thoughts, Attard, who got goosebumps the first time he put the Australian jersey on, hopes this is just the start of him competing at an international level.
“This is definitely at the top of my personal achievements right now,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be just the one time that I made a team like this, so I am really going to have to give it my all at the upcoming nationals and hopefully play my best.”
The Ulladulla High School pair will return to the field next month, when their Southern NSW side competes at nationals, before goalkeeper Bowman prepares to represent the under 15s Australian team in China.