Jewish talent lights up NSW Futsal finals

The U19 men’s Futsal NSW NPL1 premiership winners, Mascot Vipers, featuring Jewish players Ethan de Melo (front, second from left) and Oskar Beck (front, third from left). Photo: Football NSW/Loopii

JEWISH talent was on show for both Hakoah Eastern Suburbs and the Mascot Vipers at the biggest event on the Futsal NSW calendar – the Premier League 1 finals series held in Sydney Olympic Park and Valentine Sports Park on January 19 and 20.

Only a week after attacking midfielder Ethan de Melo and goalkeeper Oskar Beck helped the NSW Thunder win a men’s U19 national title, they starred for the Vipers’ U19 men’s side in its 8-0 thrashing of Mountain Majik in the NPL1 semi – featuring a de Melo goal – and a 4-0 grand final thumping of Inner West Magic.

Beck demonstrated his class in the opening minutes of the decider when the Magic were at their most dangerous, deflecting a powerful shot at his goal from close range by Jacob Debien and, moments later, a long range thunderbolt.

The score remained 0-0 until early in the second half when a brilliant one-two passing combo between de Melo and Emmanuel Tzanakes was executed, leading to an easy goal by Tzanakes, before de Melo doubled Mascot’s lead, creating space with a deft touch of the boot before finishing with a superb shot from the edge of the D that sailed into the back of the net. Two late goals to the Vipers sealed the trophy.

While Beck also played in the Vipers’ Open Men’s 2-3 semi-final loss against Dural, de Melo starred for the Vipers’ U16 boys’ in their 5-0 semi-final victory over Hakoah on Saturday, and their tight 2-0 grand final victory versus Inner West Magic.

The U12 boys’ NPL1 champions, Mascot Vipers. Maor Rubinstein is in the front row on the far right, and Leo Latter is in the back row, second from the right. Photo: Football NSW/Loopii

Mascot’s U12 boys’ team – featuring Jewish players Maor Rubinstein and Leo Latter – beat Dural 5-0 in the semis and went on to scrape through in the grand final with a thrilling 4-3 triumph against minor premiers Inner West Magic.

Rubenstein was in devastating form in the decider, scoring his side’s first two goals. The first one was a clever poke between the legs of the Magic’s keeper, while the second from right in front came after a series of to-and-fro passes between himself, Latter and teammate Hugo Mezei.

Jewish player Jake Girdwood-Reich played strongly in the Vipers’ U14 boys’ penalty shootout semi-final win over Enfield, and their 0-2 grand final loss against Inner West Magic.

Mascot finished with the best finals series record – winning four of their five grand finals in boys’ and girls’ futsal across the age divisions.

Mascot Vipers president and U12 boys’ coach Zvi Ben David told The AJN de Melo and his U16s teammates were sensational all season, and they also made up all but two of the U19s Vipers’ squad all season.

“They were absolutely phenomenal, losing only one match out of 32 in U16s and U19s, and for the U16s they did not concede a goal in the whole finals series – that’s 160 minutes of futsal,” Ben David said.

“Ethan [de Melo] is a fantastic team player who is very humble – he has superb skills but also a huge understanding of the game.

“Oskar [Beck] has played seven seasons for the club now, and he has become an absolutely phenomenal keeper.

“And the U12 boys’ grand final was the best U12s game I’ve ever seen. We were up against it because the Magic had talented individuals all across the court who could score at any time, but our players just kept fighting for it all the way, and won 4-3.”

Although Hakoah’s girls’ U17s and U15s teams – and their boys’ U16 side – all lost their semi-final matches, all players for the club can be proud of their efforts in what was Hakoah’s debut season at Premier League 1 level, having been promoted from second division after earning the NPL2 club championship.

Jewish players for Hakoah that saw finals action included Noah Feilich, Ben Katz, Matthew Shapiro, and Jordan Weizman.

Hakoah were highly competitive in the top grade, finishing fifth in the NPL1 club championship race and minor premiers in the U15 girls’ comp, earning the club the right to stay in the top league next season.

“To say we are proud of all our teams is an understatement,” Hakoah Futsal president Daniel Sharp said.

“Thank you to all our parents and supporters.”

Hakoah’s 2018/19 presentation night will be held on February 9 at Souths Juniors.

SHANE DESIATNIK

Leo Latter retains possession for Mascot in the U12 boys’ grand final. Photo: Football NSW/Loopii