A World Cup dream and a chance to represent New Zealand has been presented to Waikato University futsal player Jonathan Tobias.
The 2018 Fisu World University Championship Futsal Championship is being held in Almaty Kazakhstan in August.
Futsal is a modified version of football with only five players and played indoors.
The squad was announced on April 12, but Tobias found out several months earlier and was delighted with the chance to represent his country.
"I was extremely happy as it was my last year to be selected into the team due to graduating this year and excited by the opportunity to be tested at the highest level. I was also very happy that other WaiBOP teammates were selected," he said.
Elliot Cooper and Jordan Ditford from WaiBop were also selected.
It has been a long journey for Tobias who started learning about the skills involved with Futsal at the age of 6. He attended the Samba Style Football school which was ran by Michael Groom.
"I started playing futsal at the age of 16 for WaiBop both U19s and Mens team. The initial intention was to enable me to gain skills that would help me to become a good football player. I enjoyed playing both forms of football and the move to competitive futsal was a natural progression from the samba style football."
Along with representing WaiBop in Futsal, Tobias has also represented the Hamilton Wanderers at senior level during the 2016 winter season. He now spends the majority of his free time training for both football and futsal to help prepare himself for August.
"At the moment I'm training five times a week, Sunday and Wednesday after work are being dedicated to futsal, while Tuesday, Thursday (after work) and Saturday are dedicated to football."
Tobias said he would not have been able to have this opportunity without support.
"There are so many people to thank, in particular, Michael Groom, other coaches, teachers, friends, and family with the biggest support from my parents Ben and Elly Tobias, in all aspects: financially, supporting decisions, being at every game they could make, taking me to training whenever needed. Being selected to represent New Zealand in this world cup means the world to me. This is very humbling experience. At the same time, it is nice to receive this recognition after the many years of hard training."
Tobias has started a Givealittle page to help fund his trip to Kazakhstan and represent New Zealand with a goal of $5000 set. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nz-university-futsal-team