UPDATED: Sporting Outlaws FC to Participate in CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship
Montreal Futsal Club Drawn in Group With Teams From Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba
This article has been updated.
Montreal-based futsal team Sporting Outlaws FC will be representing Canada at the CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship.
The international tournament for national champions in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean will be held in Honduras from August 21-26. This will be the second edition that CONCACAF hosts an international championship for futsal, a variant of soccer played indoors on hard court in teams of five.
The team who played their first season in the Premiere Ligue de Futsal du Quebec this year has respectively won the PLFQ title and gone on to win the Canadian championship. Last Thursday, the team received an invitation from CONCACAF via email to represent Canada in the competition.
“[Winning a Canadian championship] was something that we envisioned in three year’s time and we achieved it in the first year, it was a bit of a surprise,” said Sporting Outlaws goalkeeper and co-founder Alex Fuentes.
“One day you go from playing at Kent Park in Cote-Des-Neiges to playing on the international stage in CONCACAF.”
The official draw to determine the competition’s two groups, held on Friday at the CONCACAF headquarters in Miami, saw Sporting Outlaws fall in Group B. The Canadian champions will face Costa Rica’s Grupo Line Futsal, Cuba’s Habana and Mexico’s Sidekicks. The last two teams finished respectively in fourth and third place during the last edition of the competition, in 2014
“Unfortunately we do not know our opponents. It will be a bit of a surprise when we get there but we’re not too worried about that,” said team captain Shaquille Michaud. “We have a winning formula and we are confident in our abilities.”
Catching the team in the middle of their offseason, Sporting Outlaws remained on the lookout for an invitation to an international tournament.
“We were keeping ourselves ready because there were rumours about international tournaments,” said Michaud. “We started to train together at least once a week since May.”
Even with the positive year, Sporting Outlaws have no plans to stop at that. The Canadian champions have big ambitions going into Honduras.
“For sure we are going into this tournament aiming high,” said Fuentes. “We are aiming at reaching the finals and winning the title, that would be a pride for us.”
“We will try to make people proud. We are preparing and we are confident,” he added.
Due to limited budgets, Sporting Outlaws will not be able to fly to Honduras well in advance to prepare. Instead, Michaud and Fuentes stressed that training and preparation in Montreal will be increased to adapt to the different conditions.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinal rounds. The winners of each semifinal will then advance to the final. The CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship is set to kick off on August 21.
UPDATE: Crowdfunding So They Don’t Get Fined
Along with the excitement of going to Honduras, Sporting Outlaws received a financial reality check by accepting to represent Canada in Central America. The team was willing to take on the challenge but did not completely get a hold of what the team would have to pay themselves.
“CONCACAF will pay the hotel, the food and the travel within Honduras,” said team president Enrique Benavides. “Our issue resides with the plane tickets [to Honduras and back.] We sent an email to the Quebec and Canadian federations [regarding financing], we are still waiting for a response.”
In the meantime, Benavides and the rest of the team created a crowdfunding page on GoFundMe to reach their financial goal of $15,500. With the non-response, the team needed to make a move as failure to purchase plane tickets could cost them as well.
“We need to buy the plane tickets before Aug. 8. or else CONCACAF will give us a $5,000 US fine,” said Benavides. “So the clock is ticking quickly and we can’t sleep over finding a way to find funding.”
Benavides had the opportunity to talk at the Futsal Canada conference, a third-party organization implicated in Canadian futsal, held July 21-23. There, he got support from futsal teams and federations from across the country.
“Many associations across Canada told us that they would help, others said they’d share our page, other even said they could help us financially,” said Benavides. “We know that futsal is still new and the federations don’t have a lot of money.”
Armed with a squeaky new business plan, Benavides is still knocking on potential sponsorship doors for both the season ahead and the upcoming competition in Honduras.
The team also has a small budget of “about $2,000” that they have accumulated throughout the year as a plan B. Ultimately, failure to meet the amount of money they need would mean splitting the costs between Sporting Outlaws’ 12 players and five staff members heading to Honduras.