De Melo: Futsal is like Chess

The Futsalroos spent Thursday morning at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport (SINIS) after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Kurukuru as they recovered after Game One of the PacificAus Sports Futsal Series 2024.

“We’re very fortunate to have such top-class facilities available to help us recover through our time at Solomon Islands,” Team Physiotherapist Rick Whitehead said.

“The team all love using the compression boots and ice baths. We’re incredibly thankful to SINIS for allowing us access to their full complement of amenities.”

A spokesperson from SINIS said: "We are always welcoming of international programs and teams visiting SINIS to access our facilities and services to support their performance programs and teams.

Hosting international groups in the country is an opportunity for us to continue to grow international partnerships.

We are happy to be supporting our Kurukuru as well as the Australian Futsalroos during their 3 game series in Honiara by offering access to a range of recovery services.

It has been a great bonus for our SINIS staff to collaborate with the Futsalroos staff during their interactions when visiting SINIS."

Futsalroos recover at SINIS after Game One. Photo: Damian Briggs

Ethan De Melo was part of the Futsalroos group attending SINIS for the recovery session with his teammates. The youngster became the first player to score a goal in an international friendly match in Solomon Islands when his first-half strike gave the Futsalroos the lead in the first half.

“To score my first goal, and to score the first goal in the Solomon Islands is obviously a very amazing feeling,” he reflected to Football Australia media.

“I didn’t actually know what to do, I just felt really good! I saw Shev [Shervin Adeli] running towards me and gave him a hug. I was very happy when I came off – it hit me, my first goal. Hopefully the first of many.”

De Melo has had a long association with futsal, with his father having represented Brazil. His family both in Australia and Brazil regularly keep up to date with his results, watching live streams and being involved in his journey.

“They [my family] always watch my games, they always message me about how they think I’m going,” he said. “They remember them [Kurukuru] from the World Cup – they played Brazil a couple of times. So they were very excited for me to be here.”

Watching the livestream provided by the Solomon Islands Football Federation, back home in Australia, were his two seven-year-old twin brothers. Inspiring the next generation is what makes him the most animated.

“My little brothers – they come and watch every single club game I play,” he said with a smile. “They don’t just watch my game - they come and watch, from the under 15s, all the way to the men’s. They know all the players, so they get very excited whenever they see a Futsalroo on the weekends.”

“They sent me a little video last night saying how happy they were that I scored. It means a lot.”

He coaches his brothers at the school he graduated from in 2020, Emanuel School in Randwick. At that age, the focus is providing a fun environment to learn futsal – and the love that he has for helping to bring through the next generation of Futsalroos is evident in the way that he speaks about his coaching experiences.

“The kids, they just love to play, love to learn,” he explained, while joking about keeping his competitive brothers apart.

De Melo is known in the squad for his ability at another game that is widely played and loved throughout the world – chess. Since he has been on tours, chess has become something of a tradition among a group of Futsalroos, including Shervin Adeli and Jordan Guerreiro.

Ethan De Melo with his chess board. Photo: Damian Briggs

“I started playing after the movie Queen’s Gambit,” he recalled. “I watched it, really enjoyed it. One of my good friends has been playing since he was young so he started teaching me.”

Before his first tour with the Futsalroos, he dedicated an enormous amount of time to his craft – only to run into Adeli on the plane overseas.

“Shev [Adeli] was very confident in his abilities,” De Melo laughed. “I’m pretty high rated, so I sort of knew that I’d be better. The first game we played was on the airplane. Shev actually beat me, and he thought - oh yeah, this little kid, he must not be very good.”

“Since then, I think I’ve beaten him probably 20 or 30 times in a row.”

Besides using it as a means to poke fun at his skipper, De Melo says that the games have become an important way to bond during the team’s downtimes.

“I think it’s actually become a pretty important aspect of the tours, the chess matches,” he continued. “I always really enjoy it.”

“The thing I enjoy about chess is that there’s no luck involved. It’s a balanced game where either person could win, but if you lose, you can always look back at a certain point where you made a mistake and learn from that mistake. That’s what separates chess from other games – no luck, and you can self-evaluate.”

“I think it’s very similar to futsal. If you think about the game last night it was a bit of a chess match. We respond to what they do, they respond to what we do, and we’re trying to think how best to exploit the way that they’re playing. I think chess is very applicable to futsal.”

Ethan De Melo on the ball Game One v Solomon Islands PacificAus Sports Futsal Series 2024. Photo: Damian Briggs
Ethan De Melo on the ball in Game One of the PacificAus Sports Futsal Series 2024. Photo: Damian Briggs

Looking ahead to the second and third matches of the PacificAus Futsal Series 2024, De Melo said that he was looking to see how the Futsalroos could improve against a talented Kurukuru.

“I’m looking forward to competing against a very strong and hungry young team,” he said. “Seeing a few of their players doing rainbow flicks, nutmegs – it was really cool to see because it’s not really how we play, but it’s obviously very nice to look at.”

“In terms of the next games, looking forward to getting more minutes under our belts, playing with some new people hopefully, trying to form more connections on the court, and hopefully getting better and better each game as a team as we try to prepare for the [AFC Futsal] Asian Cup.”

The PacificAus Sports Futsal Series is made possible through the PacificAus Sports Program, which is an initiative of the Australian Government that creates new opportunities for Pacific and Australian athletes to play, grow and train together, and bring our countries closer together through sport.


Match One 
Date: Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Venue: Friendship Hall, Honiara 
Match: Solomon Islands 1:2 Futsalroos

Match Two 
Date: Friday, 23 February 2024 
Venue: Friendship Hall, Honiara 
Match: Solomon Islands v Futsalroos – 6:00pm AEDT kick-off

Match Three 
Date: Sunday, 25 February 2024 
Venue: Friendship Hall, Honiara 
Match: Solomon Islands v Futsalroos – 6:00pm AEDT kick-off

Live-streaming of each match will be available on