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Rogic progresses from Futsal to Celtic

'He's big, he's tall, he used to play Futsal, Tom Rogic .

Tom Rogic's technique has been crafted on the Futsal court.
Tom Rogic's technique has been crafted on the Futsal court.

. ." It may not be a chant that will ring around the stands of Parkhead in praise of Celtic's new Australian signing but the unlikely anthem would be music to the ears of at least one interested Scottish onlooker.

At 6ft 2in, some casual observers may assume that Rogic, who finally made his switch from the Central Coast Mariners to the east end of Glasgow on a four-and-a-half year deal yesterday, is an awkward, flailing-elbowed target man. On the contrary, the 20-year-old is an elegant, creative, attacking midfielder whose technique has been crafted indoors on the confines of the five-a-side Futsal court.

Played with a smaller, heavier ball, which encourages short passing, creativity, intelligent movement and speed of thought, Futsal has provided a fertile breeding ground. From the original Ronaldo of Brazil to Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Lionel Messi, the world's finest exponents of the roon ba' game have forged and honed their skills in the Futsal arena down through the years.

Here in the rough and tumble of Scotland, we have at least mastered those fine footballing arts of trapping the ball further than most folk can kick it and the good, honest hoof out the park. While Futsal has been embraced around the globe, it remains in the margins in these parts. Change could be in the air, though. Dundee-born Mark Potter, who is striving to raise the game's profile, certainly hopes so and he is genuinely excited by Rogic's arrival.

"Someone like Tom going to Celtic could be a real coup for us," said Potter, who has been involved with the Perth-based Scottish Futsal League since its inception in 1997. "He could be a huge asset . . . he openly states Futsal has helped him. He's enthusiastic about it and he's going to be very high profile. We'd like to tap into him and if we can get him up to Perth and get him involved in the promotion of the game, it would be phenomenal."

Although the SFA became the first British association to formally recognise Futsal in 2001 – the work of the Scottish Amateur FA's former secretary Hugh Knapp was instrumental in its promotion –Potter reckons there are still only around 200 participants in Scotland.

Rogic made his debut for Australia's Futsalroos in 2010 and, just two years later, earned his first full international cap with the Socceroos. He firmly believes that Futsal was the "missing link" in his technical development and Potter is keen to see him spread the gospel in a Scottish footballing culture that is more kick-and-rush than slick-and-polished.

"There's no question that it makes a massive difference to the technical side," added Potter. "The simple fact with Futsal is that you get more touches of the ball. You have to keep it in play, you learn spacial awareness and how to control and move the ball far, far quicker. Go and watch kids playing on a Sunday morning, even in a seven-a-side, and there's always two wee boys with their hands in their sleeves, shaking and shivering because they're not getting enough of the ball. You don't have any issues like that in Futsal.

"There are now so many world-class players that we all admire who have a Futsal background. But, in those countries where it's popular, nobody makes a fuss because it's taken for granted. Go to Spain, say, and it's no big deal that someone like Xavi played Futsal. It's not publicised, it's not feted. It's just accepted as the norm."

Perhaps Rogic could just be the man to bolster Scotland's Futsal future.

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