Estimated reading time:10 minutes, 47 seconds
Andre Caro was born and raised in Campinas, Brazil, he grew up playing futsal from a very young age and later like a lot of people he had a passion to try football (soccer), playing at a state level when he was 13 and 15 years old. The following year, Andre had the opportunity to travel to Spain, Malaga to play football there, which was an incredible experience though he got homesick and had to go back to his family in Brazil.
Once he returned to Brazil, he realised that he was born to play futsal and when he was 17 years old Andre signed with the famous Pulo Futsal Campinas, where he played for a few years and competed at the highest level, the Sao Paulo State Championship. However, the urge to leave Brazil again began to build and during his U20’s season, he made a life-changing decision to quit playing futsal in Brazil and move to Australia.
A friend in Australia, Melbourne helped him with the move and introduced Andre to Futsal Oz and Pascoe Vale Futsal Club, now called Melbourne Lions Futsal Club. Was it an easy decision for him? Was he nervous? There were a lot of things going around in his head, but the decision to go is one that he would make time and time again.
Utilizing his time in Australia, Andre is famous across the Australian futsal community as a player, coach, and a promotional machine, developing coaching content to help educate and increase awareness of the sport he loves. Whilst hoping to aid the development of other aspiring futsal coaches, and players. A networking machine, his love for his sport, and his determination to succeed caught the attention of Al Nasr in Dubai, UAE and he has been appointed the U20 Head Coach and the Senior Team Assistant coach.
After arriving in the U.A.E, he was soon followed by a native from his adopted land of Australia, called Rhys Wilson Buick from the Gold Coast where he played for Gold Coast Force Futsal. Rhys is 20 years old and like Andre made a big decision to travel to Dubai to take a trial with Al Nasr which resulted in him being given a contract with the club.
Today’s interview with Andre and Rhys is to find out about their experience in Dubai as one takes steps to continue developing his coaching career and the other as a player.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview Andre and Rhys, and giving Futsal Focus followers the opportunity to read about your experience in the U.A.E.
FF: Since arriving in the U.A.E, what has been the biggest challenge for you from a cultural perspective? And, what advice would you give to coaches and players thinking to move abroad so they can adjust to a new culture and get the most of their experience?
AC: When you make a decision to move overseas, you have to dive into the culture and try to learn it as quickly as you can so you can appreciate and respect their beliefs and habits. Some experiences/ challenges I have faced so far are:
- Language barrier, because some of the players cannot speak English very well, which made it difficult to get the coaching messages across. I overcame these problems by learning a few keywords in Arabic and using my tactical board to demonstrate movements and what I required from the players. The players have also improved their English skills since I have arrived and they can now understand me better on the court.
- Being in a Muslim country, the team must pray at specific times, and those times often clashed with important match warm-ups or even during match half times
FF: Rhys, congratulations on your move to the U.A.E, how did this opportunity come up, how has the adjustment been for you going from amateur futsal to professional? And, how are you coping with the step up?
RB: Thank you very much. Andre actually offered me this opportunity, I heard he got offered the role at Al Nasr Futsal Club and he sent me a message asking me if I wanted to come for a 2-3 week trial if all goes well I’ll make the men’s team. So of course, I accepted and I was fortunate enough to make the team and join the club. Overall the step up is not very significant I was already playing a good level of futsal in Australia and our local players are at a similar level to here in the UAE. However, the professional league allows amazing foreign players to come and play which boosts the league even more which we don’t have back in Australia. Obviously, I can learn so much from these players, they bring a wealth of knowledge from Brazil and I hope to learn certain skill traits of each of my teammates from their game so I can develop them into my own.
FF: Andre, congratulations on winning the Etihad Cup in your first season as the assistant coach. What has your role involved so far to aid the team, the U20s, and your head coach?
AC: My role as the assistant coach for the first team has been to be the right-hand man to the head coach Rafael Fogeiro, which means analysing the team’s training and match performance, by providing video analyses. One of my main roles is to help planning sessions with Rafael based on team tactics and formations to be used. I am the link between the players and the head coach meaning that I am constantly explaining specific details to individual players/ groups, while Rafael focuses on the team, especially during matches. Rafael and I have a very strong connection, and I feel very fortunate to work alongside him.
We have been building the U20s squad from scratch. Since my arrival in July, and we have managed to build a strong and dynamic team. I coach them 5 times a week and I have taught them a very specific system used by the first team. Over the short period of time that I have been with these boys, we have played 4 friendly matches, resulting in 3 wins and 1 draw. The U20s league kicks off this coming Friday, and there will be 9 clubs, where we will face the solid Mleeha Futsal in round one.
FF: Rhys, have you had the opportunity to play for the senior team yet and what have you learned from your new coaches and teammates?
RB: Yes, I have had the opportunity a few times in preseason and twice during the Etihad Cup which has just finished. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned ‘new’ things however I have been able to fine-tune my basics a lot more due to such a larger load of training which has definitely made me grow as a player and of course understand the system of the team. It is hard of course to show management how hard you’re working on and off the court but I guess it’s just what the coach wants at the end that fits the system, all I can do is perform my best each time I step onto the court and hope the coach sees that. I honestly just appreciate that I can be here playing futsal, especially during COVID. I want to enjoy myself, perform for myself, and smash the goals that are set for our team.
FF: Andre, I see you are not the only exceptional talent the U.A.E has attracted to their country with Brazil’s head coach Marquinhos Xavier also making his way there to assist Sharjah Football Club. What are the development plans for futsal in the U.A.E that they are recruit experience like you and Marquinhos?
AC: The feeling I have about futsal in the UAE is that they are eager to do whatever it takes to improve and develop futsal in the country. This includes bringing coaches like Marquinhos and I, and also bringing the UEFA referee panel delegate, Pedro Galan Nieto to assist with the referees’ development. However, the country is behind when it comes to junior development, they currently only have an under 20s age group but I have been discussing with some other keen coaches in the country too, hopefully, start a younger age group league/ division.
I see the future for futsal in UAE as very promising and I hope to be able to positively contribute to this.
FF: Rhys, what do you hope to learn from this experience and achieve from it as well?
RB: I hope that this opportunity can be a step forward to pursuing a professional career in Futsal. I came for the experience of course but I hope this can open potentially many other doors as well. I have also been giving more thought to how I can improve my game by understanding it more from a coaching perspective. In Australia, I was working as a coach for a local school on the Gold Coast teaching primary and secondary school girls and boys as well as juniors at Gold Coast Force Futsal Club. I would definitely consider progressing through the coaching qualifications at a later date.
FF: What are AL Nasr aims for the season and development goals Andre?
AC: Our first team had the goal to finish in the top 3 for our league, although with a very strong start to the futsal year, we managed to win the important Etihad Cup (national cup), winning 5 games and drawing 1. The refined goals are now to fight for the upcoming Emirates Cup and league titles.
As for the U20s, we are showing great signs of winning the 2 practice matches played, however, it is too early to set such goals in place, but like every team, at Al Nasr our goal must always be to win the championship, with the goal of having the U20s team prepared to come up into the senior squad, by understanding the systems the senior team uses.
FF: You left Gold Coast Futsal to play in the U.A.E, looking at Andre’s online example of promotion, have you given thought to how you could use this experience to build awareness and understanding back home?
RB: Yes, of course, I hope that this opportunity I have achieved can inspire other players in Australia and show them that futsal is a career opportunity and there is a professional pathway. When I return to Australia I want to share my knowledge with as many players as I can. We are a close group at Super Futsal in Queensland Australia and we all want to see the sport grow, so I hope I can share my experiences with not only my club but many others. When it comes to self-promotion, I have seen the work of people like Rico Zulkarnain, coming from a country like myself where futsal is still in its early development but he has still managed to build a large following. He played in Australia and I have played against him a few times. I admire what he has achieved for himself and the sport, and I believe every futsal player wishes to grow their social media platform and build an impactful following. However, for now, I want to take in this experience more and in time I will look at potentially trying to replicate the work success he and others have had online.
FF: Finally, a question for both of you, what could Australia learn from the U.A.E to help develop the sport back home?
AC: The lesson I will take back home from UAE is that to develop sport you must be willing to invest and take risks. Anything is achievable with hard work and professionalism.
RB: I honestly believe Futsal is one of the world’s most underrated sports hiding in the shadows of football and it deserves more than what it has now. I hope that one day Australia and many other countries can see the value and attraction that the sport can bring not only here in the UAE but around the world and one day receive the awareness it deserves.
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