It's four. Our Premier Men team kept up their 100% start to the season with a gritty win over Birkenhead on the weekend.
Head Coach Chris Zoricich was obviously very happy with the result and give us his post game verdict.
Tough game, tough conditions but yet again, the boys stepped up to get the 3 points. Before the game, you spoke about the need for the boys to concentrate and execute our game plan. Did they?
To a degree! We couldn’t quite execute the game plan as well as we would have liked which could have been down to the difficult conditions which I think played a part in the lack of quality at times by both teams. However once again I cannot fault our players endeavor, fight, resilience and passion to grind out another great result!
We will continue to work hard to improve on the areas we still feel we need to get better in and hopefully keep picking up points along the way.
You had five U20s starting with another two on the bench. A great testament to the work you and the club have put into the player pathway programs. Where is the balance of your coaching team adapting to a younger squad versus the need for the players to step up?
Yes it’s a fine balance between wanting to give youth a chance and help them grow and develop and hopefully kick on to bigger and better things as well as integrating the more experienced players that have come to the realization that their dream of becoming a professional footballer may be over but they still wish to be part of a competitive environment. Recruiting the older players is just as crucial as developing the youngsters. We have certain criteria that we look for in each player we recruit and they have to fit into our Springs values before we even begin to think about talking to them. I think the older players we have at the moment are not only fantastic players but also have been instrumental in helping the younger players. And together so far we have had a good mix as well as being able to achieve great results. So obviously it’s been a pleasing start to this campaign.
A word on captain Dane Schnell. Only 21 but comes with a lot of experience with NZ u17, u20 and u23. How is he settling into the role and what does he bring to the team?
Dane is great. I had him as Captain of the SKC 1st X1 a few years ago so know him well and he knows and responds to me well. He’s very much a leader by example and his energy/work rate are second to none. He’s like an energizer bunny .. he just keeps going and going!
Great player but also a great person. Very thankful to have someone like Dane as captain of this club.
Zac Zoricich is in the NZ under 20s camp next week. No surprises to anyone following his career these past few years. What is your best advice for those parents who are coaching their kids? We've all had the sulks in the car after the game. How do we find the balance?
Don’t do it!
In all seriousness, it’s a difficult one. Being a parent/coach with a son/daughter involved is not easy.
I’m pretty certain anyone in and around our environment knows the extremely high expectations I have for Zac and that’s only because he wants to follow in my footsteps and become a pro. So knowing what it takes to become one I push him to the limit to give him every opportunity to achieve that goal. And that goes for any players in my environment that has the dream of “making it”. There are no shortcuts!
Zac will be the first to tell you there is definitely no favouritism towards him .. in fact, I’d say it’s the complete opposite!
There were opportunities for him to move clubs in pre-season which we did look at very closely as he needs to “get away” from me but we felt at this moment in time staying at Springs would be the best for him to continue to develop as a player in an environment he’s comfortable with for now.
It’s great he’s getting recognised for his ability and being selected for u20s camps (unfortunately the camp next week has been cancelled) but he will continue to develop his game in order to achieve that dream of becoming a pro.
Melville United up next. You're in form, the team is settling. How do you ensure there is no drop-off in the performance?
Just keep reinforcing the fact we have done well so far but it’s only a start. The league doesn’t finish tomorrow!
We look to keep improving our environment not only on the field but also off the field. Obviously, when your team is winning it becomes a lot easier to deal with players etc but we are realistic and know there is a long way to go. We will stay humble and keep working hard. In fact, we have to now work even harder as we can no longer fly under the radar.
We now have the target on our backs! The hard yards put in during pre-season will become more apparent as the season goes on as well as the work put into creating a tight-knit environment that will help us when/if things don’t quite go to plan. Fingers crossed it keeps going as it is for a while longer yet though