New Shepparton United coach Nick Kalafatis has warned his players to be prepared for a lot of running if they want to play in his team next year.By Damen Francis
New Shepparton United coach Nick Kalafatis has warned his players to be prepared for a lot of running if they want to play in his team next year.
Kalafatis coached the Blues on his return to Australia two years ago and led them to a grand final. He returned to Greece only to rejoin the club as a player midway through last year.
He takes over the role from Aaron Westervelt, who parted ways with the club at the end of last season.
United was the team to beat for much of the campaign and finished on top of the league table, only to go crashing out of the finals race in straight sets.
Kalafatis was appointed by a new-look committee and he said it was its fresh approach that convinced him to take the job.
‘‘I’m very happy to get the job, there are new things going on and that’s why I agreed to it,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘Not that the old committee weren’t willing to help, but there are fresh people involved that want to help the club go forward.’’
United was unquestionably one of the Goulburn North East Football Association’s busiest clubs during the transfer period last year, bringing in a wealth of talent from outside Greater Shepparton.
It remains to be seen whether the league’s administrators continue to allow clubs to import an unlimited number of players next year or introduce a cap and Kalafatis said he would wait for that decision before actively pursuing players.
However, he expected the team to change ‘‘60 to 70 per cent’’ from last year.
‘‘A lot of our boys can’t come back and we don’t know how many imports we can have,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re talking to players, but no-one has signed yet.’’
According to Kalafatis, the aim would be building on last year’s performances, not necessarily starting again from scratch.
Those that do remain will need to be prepared to work hard and commit to the team.
‘‘Last year our team was really good, we finished first on the ladder, which was a good achievement, so something was going right, in finals it just wasn’t our day,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘I don’t like the ball in air, we will play on the ground, with quick passing and lots of running without the ball.
‘‘We’re going to work very hard, but not much will change, it all depends if the team comes together as a family.’’
Kalafatis said he was disappointed Westervelt was planning to return to Adelaide, as he would have liked him to stay on as a player.
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