TWO Jewish players of contrasting ages have been selected in the Australian Futsalroos men’s team, which is making final preparations for an imminent return to international futsal after a two-year absence.
Former Hakoah Eastern Suburbs juniors Jarrod Basger, 28, and Ethan de Melo, 16, will head to Vietnam with the 14-man squad next week ahead of the eight-nation 2019 AFF Futsal Championships, where Australia is in a pool with Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Basger, who moved to London four years ago, represented the Futsalroos from 2011 until 2016, played in two world cups, and was part of Australia’s men’s futsal team which won silver at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel.
The experienced flanker kept himself in the mix by playing in England’s National Futsal League, scoring 18 goals in 11 games for London City in 2017, and 33 goals in 15 games for Sussex last season.
De Melo has represented NSW, won premierships with Hakoah (U12s and U14s) and the Mascot Vipers (U16s), and is currently playing for Mascot’s men’s team in the NSW Premier Futsal League.
The Emanuel School student is the youngest Futsalroos squad member, and joined the team for a training match against Hakoah in Sydney last Sunday.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play futsal for my country, but I’m still 16, so I didn’t think the opportunity would come to me this early,” de Melo told The AJN post-game.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with Jarrod [Basger] when he joins us soon [from England].
“The mindset of the team is to prepare our best for Vietnam – we know we need to finish in the top three there to make next year’s AFC Futsal Championships.
“So the pressure is on, but everyone’s working hard.”
The training game ended in an entertaining 3-3 draw, with Jewish trio Dylan Basger, Gilad Swartz and captain Robbie Ezekiel starring for Hakaoh’s NSW Premier League 1 side – the latter two scoring a goal each.
“For us, playing this game was a step up, and we’re very happy with the result, but there’s always room for improvement,” Ezekiel said.
Hakoah futsal president Daniel Sharp said it was “an awesome chance for our players to test themselves against the best in the land”.