11-year-old Benjamin Waalder from Forest Lake has been selected for the Queensland Under 12 Futsal Team to participate in the National Championships in Sydney in January 2023.
The year 6 student from St John’s Anglican College participated in a regional try-out competition over the Easter school holidays and was selected for the position after an impressive performance as goalie.
Ben, who is a regular outdoor soccer player, didn’t expect to make the team and only decided to participate in the regional futsal try-out because his older brother was participating.
“He played for a bit when he was little, and stopped for a few years and started playing again for this regional tournament he was selected for,” Ben’s father Rogier Waalder said.
“He never actually really liked futsal – he plays outdoor soccer too and he much preferred that, so he had a few years where he just focused on outdoor soccer and not futsal.
“This year we kind of convinced him to do this regional tournament — we thought we’ve got to go there anyway so he might as well play in a team.
“He agreed to play in it and he played amazingly, and the selectors noticed him.”
Ben started playing soccer at the Lions Football Club in Richlands when he was 6 years old. He played with the Ipswich Bulls Under 8’s team for a year before moving to the Annerley Football Club, where he is a current player.
In preparation for the National Titles in January, Ben will participate in weekly training and competitions with the Queensland team in Oxley.
“My goals are to keep on playing and improve how I’m playing,” Ben said.
“I like how [futsal] is a really fast-paced game; you have to be always attentive to what’s going on around you.
“Next term I’m playing in the school’s soccer team as well.”
At the National Titles, Ben will compete in a week-long tournament from other State Teams across Australia. During the tournament players will also be selected to represent the Australian national team.
“We’re pretty rapt that he’s made the Queensland team,” Rogier said.
“Obviously we’re very proud of him.”