A trip to Brazil, home of the jogo bonito (beautiful game), is an experience most young footballers can only dream about. But for Melbourne teenager Evan Evgeniadis that dream is set to become a reality next month when he embarks on a 19-day-tour of Brazil as part of the AFA Australian youth futsal squad.
Evgeniadis was selected for the squad following his impressive performances for the Victorian Schoolboys Squad at the State National Championships last September, when he captained the team to the final, which they lost to Queensland City Maroons.
Evgeniadis says he was shocked to learn of his selection for the national squad to tour Brazil. “I was still hung up on that loss (to the Maroons)… so disappointed from that loss. Just going from that loss to being selected – it was obviously two extremely different points. At the time I was surprised. But it was a good surprise and definitely positive.”
The tour to Brazil will take the squad to Porto Alegre in the south of the country where the players will receive expert futsal coaching and play matches against clubs and futsal schools in the region. The tour will end with a couple of days sightseeing and visiting iconic sites in Rio.
The timing of the tour, falling as it does in the middle of the school year, and the financial cost to the players and their families ($7950 per player) may have been prohibitive for many students. The 17-year-old Year 12 scholarship student at Lakeview Senior College in Caroline Springs has aspirations of becoming both a professional footballer and studying for a tertiary degree. He says, “I had to think about it a little bit. Obviously the opportunity to represent your country or play at a national level is something you jump at. But the cost and the fact that it’s in the middle of term two in Year 12 was something I had to consider. But just at the end of the day, it was a deal I couldn’t give up. So I said to mum, I’m going to put aside all my money that I get from work for the trip. Mum’s been working two jobs to try and get the money up. It’s been a bit of a struggle, to make sure I’m going, especially in the early days – whether we could get the money up. But in the end I think it will be worthwhile. And school’s been completely supportive. All my teachers are doing as much as they can to make sure they can prepare me for my SACS and all that I have to do before I leave. Having the support system around me made the decision a lot easier. But it was still something I really had to consider.”
Evgeniadis has played outdoor football at various clubs in the western suburbs for 12-13 years and is currently at State League One club Altona East Phoenix.
But right now, the attacking forward is looking forward to the experience and challenge of visiting the world’s most successful football nation which has won five Futsal World Cup titles and five FIFA World Cup titles. He says, ” I just really want the experience, to see what another country’s system is like. To see where Australia sits in the world comparatively to other countries. And obviously I want to do well for the country as well and maybe surprise a few of the Brazilian teams over there about how good Australians can be,” he adds cheekily.
As far as the future goes, Evgeniadis says, “I want to try and get somewhere with my football and play professionally.”
He’s considering different options including taking a gap year next year and trying his hand at making it in Greece as a professional footballer. He’s also exploring the possibility of applying for a scholarship to play US college football. Wherever his dreams take him, his mother Voula Evgiannidis says, “Evan is a great kid, I’m very proud of him. He’s worked very hard to get to this point. He’s just stepped up to the plate, and is always appreciative. I just hope this is the start of his dreams coming to fruition.”
Anyone interested in supporting or sponsoring Evan for his Brazil tour, can contact Voula Evgiannidis [email protected]