FUTSAL: After taking over the courts in recent years, North Coast Futsal can add another description to its bow: giant killers.
North Coast Futsal sent three teams off to the Australian National Youth Championships in Victoria this week and returned yesterday with a bronze medal to their name.
The association's under- 14s side impressed in their round fixtures before going on to compete in the finals, falling in the semi-final to eventual national champions Fitzroy Futsal.
The team is coached by Grafton's Renan Fenerich and featured burgeoning Clarence Valley futsal stars Torin Leek, Jack Wujcik, Zak Pacey and Eilish Bender.
"We came so close to making the final, and it could have been us as champions but one or two close calls didn't go our way,” Fenerich said.
"But I am more concerned with how well we played as a team. It was just a bonus to be able to make the semi-finals. Our aim was just to perform to the best of our abilities, and we did more than that.”
Competing against some of the biggest sides from metropolitan regions across the country, it was North Coast Futsal's second time to the championships after only taking one side in 2017.
Fenerich said he was awed by all three of the teams taking the fight to their metropolitan opponents.
"I couldn't be any prouder of how these teams played,” he said. "Country kids don't have a lot of opportunities - we are just happy that we have been able to provide that to them, they responded well under pressure and proved their ability.
"They played without fear against the big city teams.”
The under-12 side which featured Grafton stars Brayden Lolic, Keilan Thomson and Kayne Pacey narrowly missed out on finals on goal difference.
The under-16 side - which was a joint side between North Coast Futsal and Just Futsal in Lismore - featured three local players including Josh Paterson, Evan Whitty and Shanyn Hammond.
The side struggled against some of the toughest teams narrowly missing out on a win during the tournament.