Blazers' Futsallers Off To Canadian Club Nationals With Rovers FC
After winning Manitoba's Inaugural Provincial Club Futsal Championship in January, Winnipeg's Rovers Futsal Club are about to become part of history as their province's first representatives at the Canadian Club National Championships this weekend in Kingston, Ontario. The roster has strong connections to the Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference as 11 of the 13 players are current or former players of the province's established league. Among those 11 are CMU's Robbie Friesen and Stefan Schuler.
The head coach of the Rovers also has CMU roots, Russell Willms, who is supported by another MCAC head coach, Doug Lawrie of Red River College's Women's program who is listed as Willms' assistant. "This club is purely driven by the players," said Willms, "it was their desire to play, create the team, find the coaches and compete for a provincial and national championship. They drove this and Doug and I have been fortunate enough to be invited to share in this journey with them."
Friesen has proven himself to be a top futsal goalkeeper during his three seasons at CMU earning a selection to the 2018 All-Conference Team last month. "Robbie has embraced this sport and poured himself into it," said Willms, "he has incredible reflexes and anticipates plays very well. That along with his ability to communicate well with his teammates and understand offensive tactics make him one of the best. I am confident that he will shine in an even bigger spotlight like a National Club Championship."
A player noted for his defensive abilities for most of his youth career, Friesen's CMU teammate Stefan Schuler showed in his first MCAC season that he can do more than defend as he notched four goals in the outdoor campaign as a midfielder and three in the futsal season. His vision, versatility, tenacity and technical abilities can be credited for his value to his club team; "Stefan is simply a solid player," said Willms. "Around some of the brilliant flare players that make up this roster, you need players that have vision, who can play a pass quickly with either foot, who can communicate, tackle, finish... Stefan is all those things."
The rest of the Manitoba roster consists of Red River College's Alex Castro and former Rebels Mohammed Haida, Derek Tessier and Anderson Perriera, USB's Yahia Chihab, Houssem Dhaoui, Derek Mains former Rouges' star, Seif Dhaoui. Goalkeeper Liam Hodges split his MCAC career between Red River College and Providence University College. Chihab (2018), Perriera (2017) and Seif Dhaoui (2016) are all previous winners of the MCAC's Most Valuable Player Award.
Manitoba begins play in Group B on Thursday when they meet fellow National Championship rookies, Nunavut before tackling 2017 National Champions, Quebec on Friday and 2017 National Finalists Saskatchewan on Saturday. The 2018 National Final is scheduled for a 12:30 kickoff on Sunday afternoon at Queen's University.
For more information on the 2018 Canadian Club National Championships including the Rovers FC schedule and live video links, visit;
Rovers FC Group B Schedule
Thursday, April 19 - 3:15PM Manitoba (Rovers FC) vs Nunavut (Rankin FC)
Friday, April 20 - 11:45AM Manitoba (Rovers FC) vs Quebec (Sporting Montreal)
Saturday, April 21 - 2:00PM Manitoba (Rovers FC) vs Saskatchewan (Saskatoon Olimpia)
*all times local Eastern Standard Time