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INTERVIEW: HEAD COACH OF FUTSAL DINAMO – MATIJA ĐULVAT

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This year has been very successful for Futsal Dinamo. They entered the new season as defending champions, and before the start of the season they won the Supercup. And the best part was playing UEFA Futsal Champions League. Unfortunately, they didn’t go further but entered the championship well.

In the following, we bring you an interview with the head coach and co-founder of Futsal Dinamo – MATIJA ĐULVAT.

YOU WERE A PLAYER, AND NOW YOU ARE A COACH. THE LOVE FOR FUTSAL IS OBVIOUS, BUT HOW DO YOU SEE FUTSAL IN CROATIA?

Futsal is my sport and my life and I’m very happy to be doing the job I love. Futsal in Croatia has been growing constantly for the past 10 years, and I am sure that it will continue to grow and that it will keep getting better and better. I am thrilled that we have launched national leagues for the U19, U17, and U15 categories.

WE BELIEVE THAT BEING A PLAYER AND A COACH IS A GREAT FOR YOU. ONE UNGRATEFUL QUESTION: WHAT IS BETTER TO DO – BE A PLAYER OR BE A COACH?

The best thing is being a player and there is no doubt about that. I also like coaching because I am still on the field and can participate in the game, but nothing is better than playing.

BACK IN 2012, YOU FOUNDED FUTSAL DINAMO. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF ESTABLISHING THE CLUB?

There is no philosophy here, I always knew that I would stay in futsal, so with Mate Čuljak, I made a simple decision to found a club with which we could continue to build futsal and do futsal, and we made the decision the name very simply, we combined two loves of futsal and Dinamo, so FUTSAL DINAMO was born.

JUST TWO YEARS LATER YOU GOT SUPPORT FROM THE FANS, ESPECIALLY THE MOST LOYAL – BAD BLUE BOYS. HOW MUCH DO THE FANS MEAN TO YOU?

The fans are the soul and heart of the club and without them, Dinamo, but even futsal would never be what it is today, I will be forever grateful to them for that.

BEFORE FUTSAL DINAMO, YOU WORKED ABROAD. CAN YOU COMPARE CROATIAN FUTSAL TO THAT ABROAD?

Yes, I was in Italy for a long time, at that time it was the best league next to Spain and I learned a lot there. I think that we have overtaken them now in terms of quality, they could be better organizationally, but in general, I think that our league is among the best in Europe, which is also proven by the fact that we have two clubs in the Champions League.

SINCE 2021, YOU ARE THE COACH OF THE FIRST TEAM. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHEN YOU TOOK RUNNING THE CLUB AND NOW?

A lot has changed, there was a change of generation, and the club became even more professional in all segments, at the end of the day we won the championship in the senior and U15 categories and that gave the club an additional dimension on the sports scene, today in Croatia everyone knows about Futsal Dinamo.

YOU DIDN’T OPEN THE LAST SEASON IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY. BUT IN JUST A FEW MONTHS, FUTSAL DINAMO WON TWO TROPHIES. ONE AT THE END OF THE SEASON AS PROOF THAT FUTSAL DINAMO DOES QUALITY WORK, AND THE OTHER AS AN EXCELLENT BEGINNING OF THE NEW SEASON. HOW DO YOU SEE IT? HOW DOES IT FEEL?

It’s a wonderful feeling, especially when you know how much effort and work was invested, and how hard it was to win that title, then everything at the end was full of emotions and it was best seen in the semi-final and final series. What we were experiencing at the time was the question of whether it would ever happen again, but we must continue to work and do our best to make sure it happens again. I’m glad that we won the Supercup and confirmed that we were the best team last season.

THEN, FUTSAL DINAMO WAS NOT A FAVORITE AGAINST NOVO VRIJEME AND OLMISSUM. HOW IS THE STATE OF THIS SEASON?

It’s true, that no one took us seriously, everyone would say we were good and had potential and perspective, but they didn’t see us as someone who could win. Today we are certainly one of the favorites and now everything is different, but with us, there are also Square, Pula, Olmissum, and Novo Vrijeme who rightly hope to win the title, and maybe some others are lurking from the outskirts. The play-off is the new championship, and everything is possible there.

LAST SEASON, THE PLAYERS OF NK DINAMO SUPPORTED YOU. THEY CAME TO THE PLAYOFFS. HOW MUCH DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU AND THE WHOLE TEAM?

I think it’s nice, but also normal because they are also athletes and follow sports, and our matches are interesting and uncertain, so I’m sure they enjoy the atmosphere, but also the game.

BY ENTERING THE CROATIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS, YOU FIGHTED FOR THE CROATIAN TITLE, WHICH YOU DID SUCCESSFULLY. HOWEVER, YOU GOT A PLACE IN THE UEFA FUTSAL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. FUTSAL DINAMO WAS THE HOST, AND NOW THAT IT’S OVER, WHAT HAPPENED AT THOSE MATCHES? WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO FIGHT IN EUROPEAN COMPETITIONS AS A COACH?

The Champions League was the icing on the cake, unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we all wanted, but it showed us that we have to work even harder and squeeze even harder to be able to fight with the best European teams.

YOU WERE ONE MATCH AWAY FROM PASSING TO THE FURTHER COMPETITION STAGE. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND DURING THE MATCH AGAINST LUBAWA?

Especially at the beginning of the game, a lot of things went through the head, and then at the end of the game as well. It is difficult to explain what happened in that match and what feelings were mixed, in the end when the line is drawn with the time gap it should be said that Lubawa is a well-organized team (they also placed in the Elite round by winning second place behind the current European champion Palma) with experienced internationals who took advantage of all that was offered. We will use this experience for further growth so that the next time we get an opportunity, we will be even more ready for anything.

TIHO NOVAK RECOVERED QUIETLY FROM THE OPERATION. WOULD IT HAVE BEEN EASIER AND SIMPLE IF HE WAS AT THE UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MATCHES?

Tiho is a very important player on our team and, unquestionably, he would help us with his experience, but even without him, the boys showed that they can deal with everyone equally, and that is very important because no team should depend on one or two players.

WITH NOVAK, FUTSAL DINAMO GOT SECURITY. HOW QUIET DOES IT INFLUENCE THE GAME AND TEAMMATES?

Quietly, it provides the necessary calmness in moments when things may not be going well. He takes responsibility in situations when it is necessary, and by giving advice, he helps his teammates to be better and to progress faster. Our players must be lucky to have someone like Tiho on the team.

THIS SEASON YOU WILL TRY TO DEFEND THE CROATIAN CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH HALF SEASON?

I’m partly satisfied. In terms of results, it doesn’t look bad, but I think we didn’t show our best side and that we still have a lot in reserve, and I’m sure that we’ll be better in the second part of the season.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE SECOND PART OF THE SEASON AND PLAYOFFS? ARE YOU PLANNING ON BROUGHT IN ANY NEW PLAYERS?

The plan is to attack the Cup and the Championship, to prepare well for the playoffs when you have to be the best. There are no plans to bring in new players, but if the opportunity or the need arises, we will know how to react.

WITH THE VICTORY AGAINST AURELIA IN THE CROATIAN CUP, FUTSAL DINAMO PLACED IN THE CUP FINAL. IT’S THE ONLY TROPHY MISSING TO THE CHAMPION. DO YOU HAVE ANY CUP-RELATED WISHES?

I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again, Dinamo always wants to win and has the desire to win all the trophies, so the Cup is no exception, of course, the championship is what brings the exit to Europe, so that’s the primary goal.

IN ADDITION TO BEING THE COACH OF FUTSAL DINAMO, YOU ARE THE SWEDISH FUTSAL REPRESENTATIVE. WHAT IS IT LIKE LEADING TWO TEAMS?

A very nice experience, I am happy that I got the opportunity to lead Sweden and watch the development of futsal in a country where this sport almost did not exist, and now we are already trying to deal with the best teams.

HOW DO YOU VIEW CROATIAN AND SWEDISH FUTSAL? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

You can’t compare it, they are still amateurs who train 2-3 times a week (better teams), and some teams only 1 a week. Almost all the players are amateurs and they all play football, only now futsal is becoming more important than football for some, but it is important that the change has started to happen and I expect that in the next 5 years, they will finally have a league and clubs that will deal exclusively with futsal and will not depend about football.

DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUNG ATHLETES?

Do sports, if you want to enjoy it, come to futsal, you are guaranteed to develop there, not only as a sport but also as a person because futsal is a sport where you have to use your brain.

FOT THE FANS?

With their roar from the stands, everything makes sense, so I hope that they will continue to follow us as they have been. I hope that they will have a good time at our matches (for sure there will be annoyances and disappointments, but it’s all part of sport and life). I wish for all of us. To the fans, a merry and blessed Christmas and the best New Year.

GOOD LUCK IN THE FUTURE CONTESTS. GOOD LUCK!

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