[Image: Tracy Douglas]
He’s a coach, manager, administrator and the the driving force behind Bundaberg’s growth into one of Queensland’s premier hotspots for futsal.
This week, we caught up with Bundaberg Futsal president Jim Cairney (pictured above; far left) to discuss the association’s origins, developing Brazil-bound stars and those pink kits.
How did you become involved in futsal?
I believe I was talked it to it by a bunch of kids and their parents. I was coaching a junior football team and during the off-season I would organise something for the boys to keep their touches and development going – we would run a friendly five-a-side or just a kick about. Some of the boys were playing futsal with the other mob that ran competitions in Bundy but the boys and the parents didn’t like the way it was run, so we started our own indoor kick about. One thing led to another and more kids wanted to play, so we started competitions and Bundaberg Futsal was born. Our first season was 2011/12 with 10 junior teams and four senior teams. Today we have 62 junior teams and 29 senior teams. I had never played futsal before this and now you can’t get me away from it.
What was your motivation for taking the leap from a kickabout to creating Bundaberg Futsal?
As the numbers started to grow, kids of all ages started to get involved. Just watching them enjoy playing, watching the improvement in their skills, watching them leaving the centre happy and excited about playing next week – just knowing you’re a part of this or the reason behind it, that’s all the motivation you need to keep it going.
What do you see as the biggest achievements of Bundaberg Futsal in your time so far?
Being recognised for our achievements by clubs outside of our region is always a big feather in the cap. We had a team go to Barcelona and be praised on the way they played the game. We have won at the Craig Foster Cup and at the Summer State League. We have had teams in finals at the State Titles. Many of our players have represented regional Queensland at the National Championships. All this in a short period of time. But the biggest achievement to date is playing in the SEQ Futsal Premier League, which has given us the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd and take futsal in Bundaberg to the next level.
What are your objectives for the association going forward?
Always to improve on our previous season in terms of growth, standard of local competitions, development programs and our representative programs. With representative teams our aim is to be competitive in every tournament we enter. Good is just not good enough. Our golden goal is always to reach that little bit higher each year, and to see Bundaberg Wildcats in the F-League one day would be the cherry on top.
Why do you think there is such ongoing enthusiasm and passion for futsal in the region?
We cater for everyone, we run single age group competitions, and if you have a good product people want more of it. And I think people really appreciate it when you have coaches and management that also have that real passion for the game and its development.
Players like Nykodah Smith (who in April signed for a Brazilian football club) have come through Bundaberg Futsal. You must be proud to have had a hand in developing players like that?
More than you can imagine. There is nothing better than knowing the hard work put in by coaches and the players has all been worthwhile, and seeing them reach their dreams is the best reward you can ask for. On Nykodah, he was one of the bunch of kids that talked me in to all this and helped get Bundaberg Futsal off the ground. He was also part of our first Wildcats team which made the final of the 2012 Craig Foster Cup. On a personal note I was lucky enough to coach Nyko for six years from the age of seven and wish him all the best in his future.
Where do the Wildcats name and pink colours come from?
Someone really liked the name Wildcats and no one disagreed so it stuck. The pink, well there were 10 outdoor clubs in Bundaberg at the time and I didn’t want to look like we were associated with any of them. Pink was a safe bet that we would stand out as a club on our own. And it has, everyone knows who that team in pink is.