Gonzalo Abdala: “In Argentina, only 10% of the players make a living out of futsal”

“El Magia” (“The Magic”), only Argentinean player in this discipline to win the Copa Libertadores and the Copa América with his national team, tells us from Italy what is like to play this sport, and the main differences between Italian futsal and Argentinean futsal. Humility, professionalism and eagerness to get better day by day are the goals for him who defended the jerseys of Boca Juniors, San Lorenzo, Cerro Porteño, Luparense and currently Real Rieti.

How did you get to play futsal?

I started playing 11-a-side football for Huracan. There I had some mates that also played futsal, and they invited me to go. One day I decided to go and I liked it, so I started to play regularly.

In futsal, are tactics and strategies more important than the personal skills of each player?

The most important thing is to stay focused all the time. It’s a very dynamic and tactical sport, where you have to keep your attention on every detail, because one single play can change everything.

In your opinion, could a top player from the Argentinean futsal league play at the Argentinean “Superliga” of football?

Yes, I believe that some futsal players are enough qualified to play at the first division of football. Many of us started as 11-a-side football players, and then changed to futsal.

Did you expect to jump to one of the most important teams in Italy?

To be honest, it was a dream. Arriving to one of the most important leagues such as the Italian, and to a team like Luparense is something beautiful.

What are the main differences between the Argentinean league and the European leagues?

Here in Italy the game is much more physical and also more professional. 85% of Serie A players do this for a living. In Argentina that doesn’t happen. Only 10% of the players do so. Besides, in Europe there are many sponsors that move great amounts of money, which is important for a sport that isn’t professional.

Despite the great time you are going through, do you miss your hometown?

I always do, no doubts. Even though I feel great here, doing what I love for a living, my hometown is always present. I miss my family and friends a lot.

What do you feel about being the only Argentinean player to win the Copa Libertadores and the Copa América?

Being the first to achieve those trophies is something that makes me proud. The Libertadores first, with Cerro Porteño, and then the Copa América with the National Team. I’d love that an Argentinean team win the Libertadores.

Who have marked your career in futsal?

I had very talented coaches that helped me improve in several aspects. They have great merit on making me a good futsal player, and not just another one. Among them, I highlight Juan Llorens, who taught me the principles of the sport, together with Diego Giustozzi. When Diego talks to you, he makes you believe that you are the best player of the world, always getting the best of you.

Do you think that the good level that futsal players are showing in Argentina is being supported by the institutionality of AFA?

Yes, lately AFA has started to show more interest in futsal, improving and spreading the sport. The growth of futsal came together with great moments, such as the World Cup won by Argentina in 2016.

What should change for futsal to achieve a more protagonic role in our sport, such as it does in other countries?

What I see different from other places is lack of advertising. The sport is not known by most of the people, even though there are many boys playing futsal. It’s a beautiful sport, and I think that with a good marketing campaign it should gain popularity rapidly.

Our national Team can compete head to head against other teams that receive more support?

Yes, and that was demonstrated at the World Cup. Argentina has many high-quality players. Giustozzi always says that we have the competitive DNA, that we use every existing resources to win, and that we have them.

What are your expectations for the future of your career?

Playing the World Cup is still one of my dreams. I almost played the last two Cups, but I couldn’t make it. Third time lucky, I hope. Besides, I want to keep growing and winning titles.

Did futsal broadcasting in Argentina make more children approach the sport?

Today children choose to play futsal, in the past that didn’t happen. They went directly to play 11-a-side football, such as I did. But today there’s more visibility and they pick futsal first.

Who would be on your ideal futsal team of the world?

Well, I will choose players that I had as mates. I had many and very talented, but if I had to choose only 5, I would pick Nicolás Sarmiento, Damián Stazzone, Honorio, Merín and Alamiro Vaporaki.

Agustín Palmisciano.

Translation by: Julián Luppi.

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