Suarez at the fore as Venezuelans eye landmark appearance

  • Enderson Suarez helped Venezuela reach their first FIFA Futsal World Cup

  • The pivot has been making a name for himself in Finland

  • He discuses life in Europe and his nickname

“I’m a little bit worried but not even Coronavirus can take away what we’ve achieved,” said a smiling Enderson Suarez, and rightly so. He and his team-mates had to work hard to take Venezuela to their maiden FIFA Futsal World Cup™ and nothing can take the shine off that achievement.

And while it is true that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a question mark around the date of the tournament to be played in Lithuania, Venezuela will be there when it does take place.

“We feel so proud to have taken that final step,” Suarez told from Finland, where he plays for FC Kemi. “We came so close before, on several occasions, but this time it was different and we’re so happy about it.”

Venezuela secured their place at the world finals by finishing runners-up to Argentina in their group in South American qualifying, reaching the semi-finals to claim one of the four places up for grabs.

In the eyes of the physically imposing 27-year-old pivot, who celebrated his birthday in lockdown in Kemi on 9 April, the experience provided by Venezuela’s foreign-based players proved the difference this time.

“There weren’t any Venezuelans playing in overseas leagues five years ago,” he said. “Now we’ve got players in Argentina, Italy, Finland, Colombia, Uruguay and elsewhere. That strengthened our belief that it was possible, despite the fact that those of us playing overseas only joined up with the group ten days before the tournament."

Discussing that squad, Suarez described it as young but mature beyond its years. Pointing to himself, he added that there are no superstars: “By the time the qualifiers came around, I’d scored 31 goals here but I didn’t go over thinking about how many I should score. We all pulled our weight and you could see that on the court.”

Suarez did score in the all-important defeat of Uruguay, although the match that really got the Venezuelans believing was the loss to Argentina in their opening game.

“We went down 2-1 to the reigning world champions and thought we'd scored again just as the final whistle went," he said. "Walking off, they looked like the team that had lost, not us.”

Their growing experience showed in the two defining victories of the campaign: “The 5-1 win over Uruguay was a bit misleading because the game really opened up at the end, and we were nervous against Chile and made hard work of it. We rose to the occasion though.”

Venezuelan's Enderson Suárez is seen in action during the Futsal South American World Cup Qualifier. Photo: ACBF Carlos Barbosa Futsal

Suarez’s ability to rise to the occasion is what has taken him to Finland. His journey began in his hometown of Mene Grande, where he played up front in 11-a-side football. After trying his luck with several clubs in Argentina’s lower tiers, he ended up playing for his country’s futsal team following a tour of Belarus.

By that time Suarez was known in the game as 'Super Duty', after the well-known pick-up truck, a nickname given to him by a commentator. “I don’t like it that much but I’ve got used to it,” he said.

He proved his worth as a marksman in Venezuela and Colombia, where he won a Liga Argos title and was twice the championship’s top scorer. In April 2019 he joined Paraguayan powerhouses Cerro Porteno, winning another league title and finishing a runner-up in the Copa Libertadores.

Venezuelan's Enderson Suárez is seen in action during the Futsal South American World Cup Qualifier. Photo: ACBF Carlos Barbosa Futsal

“I wanted my next move to be to Europe, so when the chance to go to Finland came I took it,” he explained. “I had to think about it a little bit because it’s very different. The culture and the language are totally different but I couldn’t be happier.”

Having adapted to the colder clime – Suarez sings the praises of the local salmon soup – and slower pace of life, he is making his mark at the club in other ways apart from goalscoring, taking charge of the musical entertainment in the dressing room.

“I play them a bit of merengue and bachata, but I don’t overdo it,” said Suarez, who has a new flatmate and team-mate in the shape of his compatriot Henry Gutierrez. “Finnish people keep themselves to themselves. They respect everyone and you have to respect them too.”

There also happen to be two Serbian players in the dressing room, which has made for some interesting conversations of late, with Serbia and Finland set to face off in the UEFA play-off for a place at the next Futsal World Cup.

“It would be Finland’s first time too, which is probably why I want them to do it,” Suarez said. “May the best team qualify, though. We’ll be there anyway, no matter who goes through.”

📸 Images courtesy ACBF Carlos Barbosa Futsal