It was a representative career that was created in the halls of a primary school at lunchtime, and culminated in the Grand Final of the 2018 AFF Futsal Club Championships in Yogakarta, Indonesia.
In the sheds in Yogakarta ahead of the semi-final against SKN FC, Daniel Fulton announced to East Coast Heat teammates that he would be hanging up the boots of representative Futsal to spend more time with his young family in Canberra.
The Futsal bug was instilled in Fulton in primary school at 10-years old, as a teacher introduced him and his mates to Futsal in the school hall at lunchtime.
He was already an accomplished outdoor player having started at just five years old and was involved in ACT Academy sides, and his first Futsal competition was the Southside League at Wanniassia Hills school hall.
As a ten-year-old, he played his first National Futsal Championships for the ACT, and as he began a streak of 15 straight National Championships for the region turned to Futsal as his main focus, leaving outdoor behind at 13 years old.
From there was where things really started to pan out for Fulton and his Futsal career.
“We trained a lot more for National Championships, as we had them twice a year,” he said.
“There was NFC in January, and then Schoolboys nationals in mid-year as well.”
Fulton played Summer Futsal in Canberra with mates from school before making his first major move away for the sport.
“When I was 18 I moved away to play for the Campbelltown City Quake.
“I played for them for two years under Scott Gilligan, the Australian coach at the time, and that’s when I was really trying to push for the Futsalroos squad.”
Soon after began Fulton’s first foray overseas as he headed to Brazil to play for five months in the U/21’s at Minas Tenis Clube.
“In Brazil they lived and breathed Futsal,” he said.
“Straight after the kids finish school there, they flock to their local sporting club to play.”
“There are youngsters who have trained like professionals since they were ten or eleven.
“When we went to the U/21 Brazilian Nationals for my teammates if they didn’t perform it basically meant they wouldn’t make it as a professional.
“For us [in Australia], Nationals is a bit of fun really, but for them it can be basically make or break.”
Fulton returned from Brazil to play for Maccabi in Sydney and said that around that time is where his career began to gather steam.
“Everything really started to happen from there, I suppose.”
“That is when I had my first Futsalroos camp in 2010. It was Tom Rogic’s first camp, so it was him, myself and Ange (Konstantinou) representing Canberra there.”
“I was in the Futsalroos squad from then until the end of 2015, when I finally called it quits with the Futsalroos stuff.”
But that period for was when the accolades began to flow for Fulton, with the following achievements just a summary of his best years.
- 2009/10 & 2010/11 NSW Super League MVP
- New Zealand National League MVP
- 2011/12 NSW PL MVP
- F-League MVP
- NSW PL MVP
- January ’13 FFA NFC MVP & Player of the Final
Fulton played for New South Wales in the Nationals when he was stationed with clubs there, “much to the delight” of the ACT he joked, before returning to Boomerangs in 2012 and representing his home state once more.
Fulton announced his retirement ahead of the semi-final in Yogakarta earlier this year to his East Coast Heat teammates. It was the second time he had competed in the tournament with the Heat and had played in the 2012 AFC tournament with Maccabi.
“I announced it in the sheds before the semi-final, as I didn’t know if it would be my last game.”
“But then we won the semi-final and went through to the Grand Final, so that was special.”
“Before the final the team came over and gave me the Captain’s armband before the game, which was nice.”
The veteran said that he wanted to finish up while he was still playing well, and able to contribute as a member of the starting lineup, and with Futsal starting to get in the way of family life a bit too much.
“I was getting home from training at VSP at 1:30am with work in the morning at 8:30am and finding a balance there was difficult,” he said.
Also in the East Coast Heart squad was youngster Nick Rathjen, who Fulton met as a high-schooler when he was running clinics, and said it was awesome to have a youngster that he had helped come through be a part of his final tournament.
Where to now for Fulton? The 29-year old will focus on a job in local government, while also dedicating plenty of time to his home life with wife Esmarie and children Leo (2) and Charlize (4).
If you’d like to get involved in Futsal, check out the competition we offer across 2018/19 right here.