In late 2007 I wanted to play indoor soccer, or 5-a-side, which was all I knew at the time. My mum said the neighbours did some unusual type of indoor. So I knocked on the door and met Dave Payne and his family. Fair to say it changed my life in a big way.
This is Part One of Dave’s story. I caught up with him straight after the FIFA Futsal World Cup final… to learn more about the man with the plan to host the 2020 Futsal World Cup in New Zealand. Days after the current tournament finished in Colombia, Dave is leading New Zealand’s bid to host the next edition: The FIFA Futsal World Cup 2020.
From a Hataitai darts club in Wellington, to FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, this is Dave Payne, in his words…
[Part Two on how he did it to follow]
Introduction to Futsal
My first exposure, on a really basic level, was in London in a school gym. I spent some time through Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and saw quite a lot of futsal being played, and when I went to Thailand I saw it in the schools. The nature of the sport just really interested me. It’s so accessible; the freedom of play, to just turn up and play. It’s the rebirth of street football, with a pathway!
Futsal around the world
When I got to New Zealand, after some time in Australia, I met my lovely wife Sarah. She had two small children and I worked on getting them both playing football. There was a small league happening which I was a part of and kids’ teams were regularly called off because of the weather. So I thought let’s give this futsal thing a try.
The next week it was rained off again and the other team came along too, so we had three teams split into six. And straight away I saw the benefit of futsal when they went back and played outdoors again. I started to really fall in love with the nature of futsal and the freedom of play; the action packed nature of it and just seeing the joy on the kids’ faces. And it got me thinking ‘Why are we not doing more of it’.
I first realised from the minute I kicked the ball. As soon as I started playing it, 30 minutes in a local league, I knew where this could go. I was surprised it wasn’t anywhere. I could see the benefits to the community at the same time as benefits to business. I could see the both together, and that was instant.
A career in futsal
One thing it’s never been is personal. I had a good job, earning good money. It certainly wasn’t a pay increase. What I could see for my step son at the time and the positive influence on all his friends and children around him. Just seeing the enjoyment.
If I see something and think I can achieve something, then that pushes me forward. And I thought there’s an opportunity here to establish an entire sport that’s going to benefit people. That was the challenge and I like a challenge. I like being the underdog. The only personal thing was the challenge because I could see the good that futsal could offer.
The Tipping Point
The reality is, when I was still in the print media trade, there were other opportunities there but what I was looking at doing, I don’t know if you remember this or not, I was looking at joining the Army and becoming an Officer. That was the two options, I wanted a change. Something I’ve always enjoyed doing is leading people, so to become an Officer in the Army is a way of leading people, or into sport. There was an opportunity where I felt I could make something from nothing, and that was the opportunity I took.
And now you still get to serve your country…
I was a young husband, with a young family and a big mortgage. Living in Northland next door to you. It was tough times, we just had a little baby Katy, it was really tough. Working long hours to have a successful printing business, and the overtime, and then futsal was growing at such a stupid rate yeah there was times when I thought I can’t do both. I was doing maybe 70 hours a week on my normal job, maybe 30 on futsal. There was never a day or a moment when I wasn’t working in some shape or form, except the few hours I was sleeping. If it wasn’t for my wife Sarah helping as well, it would have never happened. Because that support, and obviously yourself as well. The problem you’ve got with futsal is that it’s addictive.
Because we had so much, if I did step away it could have all stopped. And there were so many people trying to stop it and who didn’t want it to succeed. I just didn’t want to see it not succeed. Every extra day, every team, every new person who became a coach, player, referee or team manager… the more invested I became. The bigger it got more responsibility built up alongside, and I couldn’t walk away from it.
Everything I do I do to the best of my ability, I’m not someone that gives up. But there were certainly some very tough times when I was tired and burned out. It was only NZ Football coming in at the right time. And that was a lifeline where I got that opportunity to dedicate my time fully to it.
The pressure, the burden.
Yeah you certainly feel it. You’ve got to remember there’s so many people that put their time into the game and they aren’t paid for it. You work silly o’clock to silly o’clock. Because they’re putting in their evenings, so you put your evenings into it as well. And it does put a lot of pressure on your family to dedicate yourself to it. I try and respond to everything I get. The reality is I probably shouldn’t answer every single question I get. Because it does become unsustainable, and that’s something I’m struggling with now. So I need to start delegating more and building that workforce. One thing I can say with absolute conviction, we have developed a futsal community in New Zealand that is second to none. A futsal culture is developing on our shores.
The Futsal World Cup bid.
I could have sent it across, but the reality was I’d put so much work into it. Being this side of the world I wanted to make sure it got there before the deadline, but it was two giant bags of 26kg! I think I broke my finger lugging them around airports. When I got there, the feeling of walking into FIFA and dropping off two kitbags of bid books, it was a milestone moment.
Dave, it’s great to see from this chat with you after knowing you for so long now, to see how true and real you are to the reasons you first got involved all those years ago on Sydenham Street. What a journey. It would mean so much to so many people in New Zealand and help grow the sport globally too. Good luck for the bid!
[Stay tuned for Part Two on how he did it.]
Will New Zealand be successful in their bid? Comment your thoughts below…