FOCUS sat down with Bianca De Jong to find out more about how she will be representing Australia in the Australian Futsal under 16s Girls Team in Italy – and how you can help her get there.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a local girl, having moved to Sawtell with my family 10 years ago. I have been attending Bishop Druitt College since Kindergarten and now I am in Year 10 in the high school there.
I love living here. I love the beaches, the lifestyle in Sawtell and of course, playing soccer. I have been playing soccer for the Sawtell Football Club for five years and started playing Futsal to keep fit in the off season. I never dreamed that at 15 years old, I would be representing Australia.
What is Futsal, and how did you come to play at such a high level?
Futsal is a high intensity, fast paced, dynamic, version of football (soccer). It is the only five-a-side version of football officially recognised by FIFA and is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
In 2017, together with a team from school, I represented Bishop Druitt College in the Regional School Futsal Championships; from there, I was selected in the Far Northern NSW Squad to compete at the National School Futsal Championships, which were held in Brisbane in September.
At the Nationals, we played teams from all over Australia, and I was over the moon when I was told that I had been selected for the Australian 16s Girls Futsal Team. There are 10 girls from all over the country, and together with our coaches and support crew we will be touring Italy for three weeks in May.
How does it feel to be representing your country at such a young age, and where will you be travelling?
Actually, I was really surprised. I loved the experience with the FNNSW team at the National Championships. I made lifelong friends and had an amazing experience, so to be selected for the Australian team was a bonus. It is a real honour to be selected to represent my town and my country at this level.
Our team will travel to Italy in May to play games against national and regional Italian teams. We will travel all over Italy, including Rome, Florence and Naples. I am very excited about it.
What are your plans for the future?
For now, all I can think about is Italy. I’m training hard, eating well and trying to stay focused.
It’s hard to imagine what impact this could have on my life, so I am going into it with an open mind. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
How can we help you fulfil your dream and represent Australia in Italy in 2018?
I love the friends you make playing soccer and Futsal, and it really is a dream to be playing for Australia – but it’s expensive, so we are fundraising to help cover the costs.
We’ve been selling chocolates (and eating some too!), we have a raffle and we’ve approached some businesses to help with the cause. I am very thankful to everyone who has helped so far. If anyone wants to contribute or find out more information, they can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org