• Wednesday Aug 16, 2017

    Canada’s Sporting Outlaws fortified by futsal, ready to live CONCACAF dream

    Sporting Outlaws FC (pictured) is Canada’s representative in the 2017 CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship. (Photo courtesy of Sporting Outlaws FC)

    MONTREAL -- From modest goals to a fairytale inclusion in the 2017 CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship, it has been a remarkable first season for Montreal’s Sporting Outlaws FC.

    “The guys are really excited.  It’s a dream coming true,” Sporting Outlaws FC president Enrique Benavidez told CONCACAF.com. “At the beginning of the season, we only played to finish in the top four.  We knew it was our first year.

    “Now in less than a year, we’re playing in an international cup.  Everyone is really excited.  Some of them can’t even sleep they told me because they don’t believe what they’re going to live.”

    Sporting Outlaws is one of eight clubs that will compete in the CONCACAF event from August 21-26 at the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional Francisco Morazan in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

    “For all of us, it’s our first international cup.  It’s a huge experience, their first one,” said Benavidez.  “We hope it’s not the last one.  We have a young team, players are between 17- and 21-years-old.  They still have hope to play four or five CONCACAFs.”

    Sporting Outlaws FC was formed when two clubs – Outlaws and Sporting Charo – joined forces.  While it is in its inaugural campaign, the foundation for success was set many years ago.

    “Both teams were guys who grew up together,” Benavidez commented.  “We know each other since we were four-, five-, six-years-old.  We were always together at the park, in the Spanish leagues, in the regional leagues.  Our main strength is family.  We’re like a family.”

    The team -- led by Diyaeddine Absy, captain Shaquille Michaud, Mohamed Farsi and Oussama Laguel -- is a melting pot of cultures.  Benavidez said the team consists of players with Latino, Arab and African backgrounds.

    “It’s really a multicultural team,” noted Benavidez.  “It represents perfectly Montreal.”

    After winning the Premier League title in Quebec, Sporting Outlaws FC prevailed over Futsal Club Toronto (9-3), before beating Saskatoon Olimpia SK FC (7-3) to win its first-ever Canada Soccer Futsal Canadian Championship, which was held in Kingston, Ontario, in late April.

    That meant Sporting Outlaws earned a berth in the CONCACAF Futsal Club Championship.  But then there was the question of paying for the trip to Central America.

    The club tried numerous fundraising efforts, from bagging groceries at a local supermarket to a GoFundMe page and receiving donations from friends and family.  Then came funding from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Quebec Soccer Federation to make the trip possible.

    “We’re very thankful to the Canadian Soccer Association, the Quebec Soccer Federation and all our fans and people who donated the money for our biggest opportunity in life,” Benavidez expressed.

    A side that started its first-ever season with the objective of a top-four league finish now has new goals: “Go through to the next round.  That’s the first goal we set,” stated Benavidez.

    Through some connections, Benavidez said he’s been able to obtain videos of Group B opponents Grupo Line Futsal (Costa Rica), Habana (Cuba) and Sidekicks (Mexico).

    “We managed to study them a bit,” Benavidez remarked.  “I don’t know if they know us, but we know them pretty well.”

    Year Two for Sporting Outlaws FC is already shaping up to be a smashing success.  There will be a second team, an under-18 squad and a women’s team as the club, which will be partnered by Montreal Impact defender Hassoun Camara, continues to expand.

    “It’s just the beginning,” finished Benavidez.  “That’s for sure.”

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