Team Prepares for the New Year Season Opener With Tons of Optimism
By Daniel Halmarson
The Rebels men’s futsal team has its sights on returning to the playoffs for the first time since they won the league championship in their 2016-17 season. The team has missed the playoffs by a single point in each of the last two seasons.
Head coach Chuck Mrena said he was optimistic about this season during practice at NDC’s North Gym on Dec. 4, 2019. He said one of the reasons for his optimism is the returning core of players who have experience playing together.
“The key to futsal is chemistry – it has to be there,” Mrena said. “You need to have the awareness of what the other guys on your team are going to do.”
Futsal is an indoor variation of soccer played on a hard court as opposed to grass or turf. Each team has five players, including goalkeepers, on at a time and played with a heavier, less-bouncy ball than soccer. The Rebels futsal team is entering their seventh season in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference.
This is Mrena’s third year with the team, though he’s been coaching soccer for over 30 years. He’s joined by three assistant coaches, including former team MVP Alex Castro.
Castro, who is enrolled in the Business Administration program at RRC, said he was impressed with the team’s defensive structure during the Dec. 4 scrimmage, particularly with the rookie players.
“I didn’t think they’d pick it up so quickly,” said the 24-year-old. “We have some ground to build on going into the first game.”
Devin Racicot, 27, is one of the rookies. The Digital Media Design student said he expects the team to compete for a playoff spot in the MCAC’s six-team league.
“I’ve heard the league is pretty competitive,” Racicot said. “But we have a good team that will play hard and show up for every game.”
Castro said he thinks that Racicot will be a key player on this year’s team.
“He knows where he needs to be on the field,” said Castro. “He’s a skilled, intelligent player.”
Racicot joins returning players like captain Eduardo Bardello for the 2020 season. Bardello also plays for the Rebels men’s soccer team and will be a key piece in trying to lead the futsal team back to the playoffs.
The Rebels open their season on Jan. 11, 2020 at Université de Saint-Boniface. For the full season schedule, visit https://www.rrc.ca/rebels/sports/futsal-mens/schedule/