Rebels men’s futsal team takes home its first championship

Sade Ogungbemi, CONTRIBUTOR

Team captain Anderson Pereira and his team jump in excitement after winning the MCAC futsal championship game. SUPPLIED/ Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference

They made team history—the Red River College Rebels men’s futsal squad brought home its first Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference championship banner on March 12.

But after falling behind by one in the match’s opening seconds, the road to victory wasn’t a clear one.

“The key to winning the final was the team staying calm and composed,” said Nick Lisanti, the Rebels’ head coach.

The Rebels were still behind at halftime, 3-2. But it didn’t seem to faze them.

“The team never panicked and we had a certain confidence that we were going to win the game,” said Lisanti.

When the Rebels came back to beat Providence University College 6-4, they celebrated like a team that slayed a demon. Many of the same players were on the college’s soccer team that lost in the finals in October. The men’s futsal and soccer teams exited last year’s playoffs without the trophy as well.

“The players were hungry to get an MCAC championship,” said Lisanti.

For rookie defenceman Alex Castro, he said winning the championship was not for him—it was for the returning players who’ve played in multiple final games and who’ve always come up short. Team captain and MCAC All-Conference player Anderson Pereira said winning this championship game couldn’t mean more to him.

“This was my last year so I needed the championship bad,” said Pereira.

The men’s futsal team have lost out in the playoffs to Les Rouges de l’Université de Saint-Boniface the past two years. Pereira said winning in the semi-finals against Les Rouges gave the team more confidence. But the biggest difference? The team was finally working together to win, he said.

“It’s a mindset to be a champion,” Pereira said.

Pereira also said a big reason they won is because his team never stopped believing, even when they were behind.

“We’re a family on that team—everyone fighting for each other and leaving everything on the court,” said Pereira.

Pereira will be graduating this April and hopes to stay connected to the Rebels’ program as an assistant coach. He wants to see the Rebels put up banners beside this year’s.

Lisanti plans to get started right away—next year his goal is to win the championship again.

“It’s already ours. I can feel it,” said Lisanti.

The RRC Rebels men’s indoor futsal team will start tryouts for the new season in January 2018.

For updates on the Rebels’ season, follow the Rebels on Twitter @RRCRebels.