The South Melbourne FC Under 13s wrapped up the NPL East title with a few rounds to spare. Four days out from a Grand Final against a dominate Whittlesea Ranges, coach Brian MacNicol bought in friend and former NSL player and now race horse trainer Manny Gelagotis to talk to the boys about personal accountability, preparation and working hard.
At dusk on Thursday evening at Albert Park, the squad were introduced to Gelagotis for a bit of a chat. At first glance Gelagotis seemed an odd choice however his playing history and current experience in the horse racing industry delivered highs and lows that would reinforce the value of preparation and hard work as well as personal responsibility.
Gelagotis spent six years at the Gippsland Falcons as a player and as the club’s Development Officer. In the fourteen years since his time at the Falcons came to an end in 2001, Gelagotis has continued to run his own restaurant business as well as being a core component of the families Moe-based horse racing business.
His opening message to the successful playing group was the premise they are old enough now to understand what their aspirations and football dreams should be. They are growing in maturity and have the responsibility to work hard and be diligent in their approach to football and family life – be good kids , work hard , encourage each other and focus on the job in hand.
Gelagotis spoke on the importance of supporting and encouraging each other even when things are difficult, to ensure they won their personal positions on the field, to not have any regrets for the weekend and to prepare like little professionals to ensure they have no excuses. If they delivered on that with confidence, the rest will take care of itself. Focus very hard on training and to train the way you play.
“Experiences such as playing in a Grand Final, at such a young age and for a big name club like South Melbourne FC would invaluable in these boys lives. The players are a great group and I reinforced to them the main thing is to make sure they respect their family, their parents, their team mates and their coach for what they do for them. Carry that respect into this week’s game with passion and desire to give themselves every chance of ultimate success” Gelagotis told smfc.com.au.
The Under 13 squad had a very successful season in the NPL East under the guidance of coach Brian MacNicol. The squad won 29 of 34 matches with an impressive 113 goals, conceding just 20 and finishing 19 points clear at the top of the table on 90 points. Talking to smfc.com.au, MacNicol said “I am really impressed and proud of all the players, both as individuals and as a team. It was a mixed group who came together at the start of the season and they have grown together in skill level, tactics and teamwork. They deserve their success throughout the year.”
On Sunday the team will walk on to the main ABD Stadium pitch at Broadmeadows Valley Park for the NPL Youth Gala Day. The NPL Grand Finals brings together the winners from the East and West conference against each other throughout the day. South Melbourne FC will take on Whittlesea Ranges and despite our very successful season, we will go into the match as underdogs.
Whittlesea Ranges have had a dominant season in the NPL Under 13 West. They went through the season undefeated, with 27 wins from 28 matches. They found the net 149 times and conceded just 14 goals.
The Grand Final for the NPL Under 13s kicks off at 10:20am.