Last month, Canada Soccer had announced that the Futsal National team will be travelling to Montreal in preparation for the 2024 Concacaf Futsal Championship and qualification for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Coach Kyt Selaidopoulos has called up 20 players to the camp, with six of the players coming through the Ontario Soccer system, highlighting the commitment from Ontario Soccer to grow the sport through various programs, services and new initiatives.
Invited to the camp were six first time call ups to the Canadian Futsal National Team: Mohammed Cherif Brahimi, Mahdi Djellab, Mohammed Anis Kardoussi, Bryan Lacroix, Samir Morsli-Mahiddine and Ontario native Raheem Rose.
Growing up in the Finch and Driftwood area, Raheem Rose has been playing the sport of soccer for most of his life, however got his first taste of the beautiful game in the gym, at age nine.
Despite early setbacks, Rose has continued to play the game he loves and hasn't looked back. The 28-year-old has had quite an impressive career so far and has no intention of stopping. From trialing with Toronto FC, playing for Toronto Metropolitan University, captaining of Vaughan Azzurri’s League1Ontario Men’s team, and now playing for the Canadian National Futsal Team. Although there were times where he was undecided whether he wanted to pursue the sport on the pitch or in the gym, these varied experiences are what Rose attributes to being crucial for his development and understanding of the game.
One of the biggest lessons Rose has learned from playing futsal is how to improve his mental game. He credits his time playing in gym to improving his decision making and creativity, both skills that have really helped him to grow as a midfielder.
My first game I didn't have anything, I didn't know what it would be like. The older kids ended up giving me socks, shoes, shinpads and we ended up losing 6-0, said Rose. “There were times where I loved one more than the other. As I got older, I started to realize I can take things from both, playing 11v11 and 4v4 to improve as a player, which really helped with my game.
Raheem Rose celebrating a goal in the 2023 Ontario Men's Futsal Cup Final.
The moments are a lot more important in futsal. Every moment matters, you have to be proactive because everything is critical.
Those are teachings I took with me to the 11v11 game. Playing with Vaughan now I like to keep the ball, I like to pass and move, because I am thinking a lot more, added Rose.
While it can be a tough lesson to learn for some players, Rose recommends any young players to try and learn how to improve their mental game early on in their careers.
If you want to work on your touch, if you want to get comfortable working in small spaces, work on your movement. To get to the next level, you're going to want to be comfortable playing futsal.
Raheem Rose playing in the 2023 Canadian Championship. Photo Credit: @raheemrose Instagram
Another piece of advice Rose would share with any young players is to start watching the sport more, and trying to learn as much as they can from professionals. Although playing the sport for most of his life, Rose regrets not watching more soccer at a young age. Coming from a basketball family, Rose spent most of his time watching a lot of basketball, and only started watching soccer in his second year of university.
My game really started to grow after watching. I started taking pride in passing, my movement, and scenario specific dribbling.
Some of the players Rose has looked up to include Yaya Toure, Zinedine Zidane, and his favourite player Kevin De Bruyne. However, when asked which players he would pick in his ultimate futsal squad, none of those stars make the list. Instead choosing the likes of Bernardo Silva, David Silva, and Jamal Musiala
Guys who don't stop moving, clean passing, and are technically gifted.
Raheem Rose playing with the Canadian National Futsal Team. Photo Credit: @raheemrose Instagram
Naming just a few of the qualities he hopes to translate to his game as he prepares with the Canadian National team, looking to be one of the names that makes the final squad.
The National team is one of my biggest priorities right now. Contributing to the squad and qualifying for the World Cup is one of the big goals I have for myself.
Next year’s FIFA Futsal World cup, set to take place between September 14 to October 6, 2024, will feature just four Concacaf nations as part of the 24-nation competition. The dates for the Concacaf Futsal Championship have not been publicly announced. At the last Concacaf Futsal Championship in 2021, Canada lost to Panama in the Quarterfinals narrowly missing out on qualification to the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
The 2024 Ontario Futsal Cup kicked off last month with the Under 18 divisions, and will continue through February with most Finals taking place in March. The Men’s and Women’s divisions are still open for registration – and the registration deadline has just been announced. Prospective Teams now have until Wednesday, January 10 to enter the tournament.
To learn more about the Ontario Futsal Cup, visit ontariosoccer.net/ontario-futsal-cup.