ONE of Bangalow's favourite football sons, Brazilian futsal champion Thiago Priori, has finally been granted residency and can stay in Australia.
And he can now get on with doing what he loves - teaching young players the joy of futsal.
In June last year the Bangalow football community was rallying behind Thiago, who was in danger of being deported, while the Department of Immigration looked into his case to see if a ministerial intervention was warranted.
Despite being selected for the Australian futsal squad, his application for a "distinguished talent visa" was rejected, so he could not play for Australia because he was not a resident at that time.
Fast forward 12 months and not only can Thiago stay in the shire, but he can also kick off a Gol Brasil Futsal academy at the beginning of the next school term at the Byron Bay Sport and Recreation Centre.
"It's a big relief knowing I stay here. I have a family with a four-year-old boy and my wife is 23 weeks pregnant with our next child," he said.
"I can start the academy and do what I love and give back to the community."
Thiago is a current member of the F League Champion team, the Vic Vipers. He believes futsal can benefit every soccer player.
"Futsal is a fast-paced sport that builds skills in every aspect of the game," he said.
"The players get lots of touches on the ball, and players are involved all the time, making rapid decisions and using their imagination.
"Most Brazilians have a futsal background which is what gives them their flair and skills and it does transfer to football field."
The Gol Futsal Academy is for boys and girls aged 13-16 years old.
Cost is $120 per player for the 10-week season. To register, go to www.golbrasilacademy.com or call Thiago on 0434 157 972.
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