Last month one Queensland youngster was celebrating life changing news. A matter of days ago Dylan Wenzel-Halls played in the NPL soccer league, scoring goals for fun at Western Pride. Now, he’s a professional football player. His talents were noticed by Queensland’s top club, Brisbane Roar, who have rewarded him with a contract to play in next season’s A-League.
Dylan told AFA Media: “I am over the moon to sign my first A-League contract and I can’t wait to get started, the hard work starts now.”
A natural thing for such a down to earth, hard-working young athlete to say. However, in reality Dylan’s hard work started many years ago. And it wasn’t only on the soccer field.
Dylan commented: “Throughout my life I have played futsal. From around five years old up until now. I play throughout this year whenever I could but whilst I was younger and going through school I played a couple of days a week in various competitions along with AFA National Club and AFA National Schools. The past couple of years I have also been coaching, which has been a great experience.”
As a soccer player clearly going places, some would question why Dylan has dedicated so much time to futsal. However, for him it has been an important part of his development and overall success story. He said: “Futsal for me and in my opinion is excellent. I love getting double the touches on the ball as I would have in football and more touches of the ball and time on the ball. I love the creative and skilful side of the game. I believe it has helped me greatly in developing my skills as well as the confidence to take on players in 1v1 situations as well as play with instinct. For example, the toe poke. Sometimes in football you may have a split second where you may have to toe poke the ball to score so that aspect has helped also. Using all parts of the foot in futsal also is another aspect I love.”
As a 16 year old, Dylan crossed paths with current AFA National Team coach and West Coast Futsal Association Coaching Director Greg Farrell. Farrell said: “I met Dylan as a teenager and taught him physical education at St Peter Claver College, whilst also coaching him in the school football and futsal teams. He was a pleasure to work with - polite, honest and with a cheeky demeanour. I was very lucky at that time to have a terrific cohort of committed players, and Dylan was one who would be at every session. Rain, hail, shine or lightening storm, and if there was the opportunity for an extra session, he’d be there with bells on. Dylan’s natural talent makes him noticeable but his work ethic is what stands him above others. This will be another step with plenty more to come in his sporting career.”
However, there are only so many hours in the week for a teenager – especially with studies to factor in too. Juggling both sports hasn’t always been easy for Dylan. He commented: “At some points it was tricky as a lot of soccer coaches don’t condone futsal due to various reasons but I have always loved the game so when I got the chance to play I always did. I believe it has helped me in many ways to keep sharp as well as improve certain aspects.”
Finally, Dylan had some advice for any young players in a similar boat to him, trying to juggle football and futsal. “In my opinion I believe futsal is important and has only benefited me so I would say to play as much as you can. Have fun and be brave taking on players. I think futsal compliments football nicely and only helps improve players, especially at a younger age.”
AFA thanks Dylan for taking the time to speak and wish him the very best of luck as he embarks on his A-League adventure!