While a car accident and the COVID-19 pandemic have temporarily derailed Mitch Austin’s football career, they have given the Australian striker a chance to pursue his FIFA esports dream.
The 30-year-old began his playing career in England’s lower divisions before lining up for players like the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory in the A-League.
An ACL injury suffered during Austin’s time at Victory put him out for several months, but that gave him a chance to line up for the club’s inaugural FIFA E-League squad in 2018.
Austin’s career on the field since then has continued to have its fair share of setbacks, but he remains determined to find a new club by early 2022.
“I’m still playing football, I’ve had a bit of a rough ride in the UK with COVID. Unfortunately, I was in a car accident and I’ve been recovering from that,” Austin told Sporting News.
“My plan is to be 100 percent before the end of the year and play again then.
“It is disappointing as I had a decent amount of interest from some clubs in League One and Two here for the beginning of the season, but I have dealt with setbacks before so no problem.
“I will evaluate at the end of the year and see what options are available and where teams need attackers, whether in the UK or in the A-League.”
During Austin’s time on the sidelines, he was able to delve into the competitive world of FIFA and recently launched his own esports team “Squad False 9”.
While he won’t be playing for the team as he focuses on his own return to the real world, Austin will act as something of a manager as they set their sights on him for an unforgettable debut season.
“I have wanted to create a FIFA e-sports organization for the past few years, but I never did. As I recovered, I thought now would be the perfect time, “Austin said.
“I set it up with my sister Britt and my old E-League teammate Mo Zwed, as well as a friend in the UK.
“We are all passionate about growing Australia’s esports scene. We are growing at a rapid pace with some of the best Oceania esports players on our team. We are also working closely with EA and are currently onboarding new sponsors.
“Our goal is high and the dream of every esports team is for their players to compete in the World Cup E by the end of the year, so having even one of our players would be the icing on the cake for our first event. season in professional FIFA “.
Austin is one of the few people who has played both professional soccer and competitive esports, so how do the two compare?
“I would not say that he is as good as professional football, but he is not far behind,” he said.
“I enjoyed my time playing in the first season of the E-League while at Victory, it was great to experience competing at the professional level of FIFA and to realize the pressure and stress that these esports players go through.
“It’s not as simple as taking control, there are a lot of tactical and mental aspects to the competitive side of FIFA and you don’t have 10 other real players to help you if you make a mistake. When there are thousands of dollars at stake, it’s a completely different game. “