Football Victoria provides update on 2020 competitions

In an email sent out to clubs in the state, Football Victoria have confirmed the NPL and other senior community competitions will not proceed as planned.

FV released a set of return dates for its competitions last month, with the NPL senior competitions supposed to kick off on the weekend of July 25/26.

This will now not be the case.

“Senior metropolitan competitions (NPL and community) will not proceed or resume as fixtures, with alternative competitions and football options over the spring and summer to be discussed with clubs on an opt-in basis,” FV said in the email.

The FFA Cup, NIKE F.C. Cup and Dockerty Cup have also been cancelled, alongside competitions such as State League Men and Women, Metro League and Masters League.

Football Victoria claim Junior NPL competitions can go ahead in a revised form, with the governing body hopeful of a September restart (subject to government restrictions).

FV has similar ambitions for other junior community competitions to re-commence in September, with clubs able to opt-in if appropriate.

In regards to regional football, the federation stated: “Football Victoria Community football junior season can proceed in Greater Geelong and other Regional areas as fixture – senior contact training and competition is suspended at this stage pending further DHHS advice.

Regional associations will determine the make-up of their junior seasons.

Football Victoria’s decision to announce a series of changes to its competition structures comes after the Victorian Government’s decision to reinstate lockdown restrictions, due to a rising amount of active COVID-19 cases.

FV indicated a 2020 fee policy was being finalised, which is set to be based on cost apportionments principles. The federation highlighted that the “viability of 355 clubs and football in Victoria (was) an important consideration.”

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

George Katsakis: Back in his element

George Katsakis’ 38-year coaching resume places him as one of NPL Victoria’s all-time greats.

From his playing career into the early stages of his coaching where he worked up the ranks at many clubs, there was always a passion for coaching at the highest level.

Of course, it’s his 18 years at Heidelberg United that cemented his legacy as one of the greats, where he won the 2017 NPL Victoria Men’s Coach of the Year award and spearheaded Heidelberg United’s golden era.

The golden era involved winning a coveted NPL Australian championship, a National Premier League title, a Charity Shield, a Dockerty Cup triumph in 2017 and securing a treble of NPL Victoria Premierships in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In 2015, he led Heidelberg United to the FFA Cup Quarter Finals stage after a fairy tale run and managed to reach that same point two more times in 2017 and 2018. One of the most special cup moments for the Bergers was the 2017 FFA Cup run and the famous 1-0 win against Perth Glory at Olympic Village in the Round of 32.

In an interview with Soccerscene, Katsakis discusses his fantastic start at Bentleigh Greens, his philosophy on player development, the future of coaching in Australia and the attributes he had to become such a successful coach.

You joined Bentleigh Greens in March – it was a shaky start, but you have settled the ship. What brought you back to coaching through Bentleigh Greens?

Katsakis: This is my 38th year in coaching at all levels so first and foremost, I was missing it. I know it was only a short break, but I suppose what really inspired me to get back into it was the chain of events and the way I was released from Heidelberg that really made me think about where I am in football and where I need to be.

Obviously, I’m always aspiring to be at the top level but with Bentleigh Greens, I know the history of the club, I know their achievements over the last decade if not more and had some great teams, some great coaches.

After their phone call, they were convincing to me that they were looking to get promoted and back to the top flight, and I thought it was a no brainer. It inspired me to take a team that was struggling and hopefully steer the ship to a promotion or to a lot of improvement.

At the moment all we can say is that we’ve improved dramatically. Myself, the experience has come in and settled things that were not previously addressed earlier on and now obviously the results are flowing. It’s been a great transition for me.

In terms of player development, how do you go about that as a head coach? 

Katsakis: I think this is a great topic at the moment in Australian football. A lot of my emphasis at Heidelberg over the last 18 or so seasons was to try and introduce a pathway to players through the senior team but also paying a lot of attention to our u18 and u23 programs.

It was important to blend what I could foresee being the future of the club with the senior players, try and bring them in through that avenue and make sure they’re steered one by myself and my assistants and two and very importantly, by the senior players.

One of the fundamentals of kids developing is their environment and the people around them. If you have got the right group, as I did at Heidelberg for many years, there will be success.

I had a group who bought into our culture and accepted the fact that young kids were going to come through and help them through that development. There’s quite a few that I can possibly name that have taken the next level and next step.

Looking at the current coaching ecosystem, do you see players transitioning well into coaching and do you see coaching improving in the future?

Katsakis: It’s exciting because I now know of maybe 10 or more young aspiring coaches that are coming through. A classic example is certainly Andrew Cartanos, but I also have to mention the likes of Nick Marinos who’s taken the reigns at Port Melbourne, Luke Byles who’s become my assistant, Steven Pace is at Eltham Redbacks. So there’s quite a few coming through.

It’s great because they’re just added value, away from their coaching they can actually relive their football through those youngsters, and it makes them understand what it takes to make it at the top level.

After all the success at Heidelberg United, for any aspiring coaches, what were the attributes you had that made you so successful as a coach?

Katsakis: When I first got into coaching a very experienced coach from England said a couple of things to me that I took on board. The most important thing for me is to be humble and to understand that at any point in your coaching career, whether you’re a 20, 40 or 70 year old, you’ve got to be able to accept the fact that you’re going to learn every day.

Every day there is something new that you’re challenged with as a coach and accepting the fact that you keep learning until the day you retire, I think is very important.

We all learn from each other and generally in life as well as in football, we’re not born to know it all. Accepting that your philosophy, or someone else’s philosophy, or their techniques, or the way they coach, or their persona, whatever they bring to the table. If you can take a little bit from everyone’s leaf and add it to your booklet, it’s probably the most important part of coaching.

Global Institute of Sport and former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor launch ‘study and play’ academy in Dubai

Global Institute of Sport (GIS) has announced an expansion into the Middle East by partnering with leading football performance specialists The Player, co-founded by former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.

Aspiring footballers from across the globe can now study a GIS university degree and immerse themselves in an elite football environment with the stunning surroundings of Dubai.

The new ‘Study & Play: Dubai’ initiative provides footballers of all levels with an unprecedented opportunity to train and play in state-of-the-art facilities under the guidance of UEFA A licenced coaches. Alongside their football, students studying a specialist GIS online sports degree will receive local academic support, as well as be part of a global cohort of GIS students studying the same degree course.

Open to students from across the world to move to Dubai, successful applicants will be able to immerse themselves in the Middle East’s emerging football market, gain cutting-edge skills and apply for sports work placements that will shape their future both on and off the field.

The Player Co-Founder and former Newcastle United player Steven Taylor commented:

“This partnership with GIS offers a fantastic opportunity for young athletes. Education is one of our four main focuses at The Player, and we’re able to offer high level performance training alongside this education.”

Fellow The Player Co-Founder and UEFA A licenced coach Sam White added:

“We’re really proud to be introducing this partnership with Global Institute of Sport, and being able to offer young professionals and talented young athletes the opportunity to study a degree and play or work within the world of football in Dubai at the same time.”

GIS President and CEO Sharona Friedman stated:

“GIS was founded with the intention of bringing the best learning and education from the world of sport together so that students are able to graduate with a holistic understanding of best practice from around the globe.

“We are delighted to partner with The Player to provide an additional immersive opportunity for students to study and train in an elite football environment, whilst also bringing our education model to a new region, which will be at the forefront of sports business and performance for the decades to come.”

The GIS degrees available to study as part of this opportunity are:

All programmes are delivered entirely online with the exception of MSc Football Coaching & Analysis, which is largely online plus two residential weeks in either London, Miami or Melbourne.

For more information on Study & Play: Dubai, you can visit the link here: www.GIS.sport/dubai.

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