Michael Valkanis to lead SMFC Development Program
South Melbourne FC can today announce it has appointed Michael Valkanis to the position of Head of Football Development.
Looking at todays sporting environment, you can see the signification contribution South Melbourne FC has had and continues to have on Australian football. You will recognise names such as Kevin Muscat, Paul Trimboli, Vaughn Coveny, Joe Palatsides and Patrick Kisnorbo. Each of these individuals had the honour of playing for South Melbourne FC in the National Soccer League and were given the opportunity to enjoy life long careers in football through the pathways our club blessed them with.
There are however two names that are synonymous with our Football DNA, Ange Postecoglou and Michael Valkanis. These two footballers developed their careers South Melbourne FC starting as juniors and progressing to play senior football in the National Soccer League before representing our country as Socceroos. Both Ange and Michael have further progressed their career as highly regarded football coaches.
Four months ago, Michael Valkanis approached Football Director Andrew Mesourouni and offered to help reinvigorate the club’s youth program, bring back the historical Football DNA and help develop the countries most talented players. Michael has committed to giving back to the club which provided him the start to his football career.
Michael has introduced Daniel Geradi to the club who will serve in the role as Sporting Director. Michael and Daniel will work alongside Strati Xynas (Boys Technical Director) and Mick Gallo (Girls Technical Director) and our coaching staff. Trials and the selection process for our 2019 National Premier League youth squads.
Football Director Andrew Mesourouni spoke to smfc.com.au saying “for me personally to have Michael as an icon in the clubs history support our youth program is the greatest honour in my time at the club. Michael’s appointment will facilitate the latest evolution of us producing the country’s next crop of talented players whilst representing South Melbourne FC and creating pathways for those players here in Australia and internationally. An integral component of this is being able to capture our Football DNA and educate and entrust young players with it so they can pass it onto the next generation.
As well as a successful playing career, Michael has developed his coaching and management career in Australia and internationally. Upon retirement from the A-League and Adelaide United in 2009 he was appointed as Adelaide’s Academy Manager. Valkanis was soon appointed as Head Coach of the clubs National Youth League Team and then as the interim coach of the Senior Team. The arrival of Josep Gombau allowed Valkanis to work as an assistant under the Spanish manager introducing a possession-based football style and a dogmatic approach by bringing in FC Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor as the club’s technical director. In 2016 Adelaide won their first A-League Championship and under Valkanis the Youth League team won the State League 1 competition earning promotion to the South Australian NPL and then on to win the National Youth League A Conference.
In June 2016, Valkanis joined Melbourne City as the senior assistant coach to John van ‘t Schip and quickly celebrated success defeating Sydney FC 1–0 in the 2016 FFA Cup Final to win the clubs first ever silverware. A few months later in January 2017, after the resignation of Melbourne City manager John van’t Schip, Michael Valkanis was appointed manager of the club for the remainder of the season. The team finished 4th and was eliminated in the finals series.
In June 2018 Michael Valkanis moved to Europe to pursue his coaching career as assistant manager for Dutch Eredivisie club PEC Zwolle FC and reuniting again with Manager John Van’t Schip.
Michael will manage and guide the youth program at South Melbourne FC whilst maintaining his role with PEC Zwolle FC.
The following is the message sent from Michael Valkanis to the clubs youth players and parents.
Developing the Total Footballer…
Hello players and parents,
I started playing football when I was 7 for the South Melbourne Hellas juniors back in 1980. By the age of 12 my childhood dream was to one day play for the blue and white senior team. South Melbourne Hellas was the biggest club in Australia at the time. As a part of the junior system at the club and experiencing its football environment, I was able to not only fulfil a childhood dream but I was able to follow my passion and play football professionally overseas. South Melbourne Hellas enabled me to make a career out of the game I loved.
The clubs huge support base has always demanded success. The expectation on players and coaches has been significant and this has materialised with a culture of always playing attractive attacking football. Upon reflection I see what a huge part the club played not only in shaping me as a footballer but also guiding the fundamental beliefs and principles I now use as a coach. It has steered the way I envisage how I want to see the game of football to be played.
I now have the opportunity to help put in place a youth program that will play a significant role in identifying talent and overseeing the selection of potential future South players. Most importantly the program will help develop, guide and nurture our future footballers in these important years while they chase their dreams as I did once upon a time.
Players in our program will be part of a long-term strategy and must have an ambition to play at the highest levels of the game both nationally and internationally. South Melbourne will aim to help develop junior footballers in a program using a Total Footballer curriculum framework, representing the culture of the club and utilising the clubs current resources to help in junior player development.
Our objective is to help develop the Total Footballer while emphasising individual development within a team context. We will develop our Total Footballer by following our building blocks process relative to the developmental phase. Our focus through these phases will be on core skills – technique, tactical understanding, physical and productive habits and behaviours to help the player not only in game preparation but life in general.
Where others train 1 team we want to train 20 individuals. Where others see a youth program of 10 teams, we see 200 individuals. We will strive to educate the players on every aspect of the game as we implement a playing style and work towards improving every player to fulfil their potential within the team. The technical resources of a team cannot only be measured in terms of what you go out and buy but by what you produce internally, within the club, starting with our own junior development program.
Our methodologies and holistic training methods will help develop our players and at the same time bring our playing philosophy to life. Implementation of our program will recreate our identity, our Football DNA, that will be synonymous with our badge, colours and history of our great club playing attractive, attacking high energy football.
We strive to inspire, influence and impact our young players to not only help become good footballers but also great people.
- South Melbourne to develop talented, intelligent and responsible footballers.
- South Melbourne to play a distinct style and have a clear football vision and philosophy.
- Providing the environment to give players the best opportunity to develop as footballers and play the highest possible level.
- Giving young players the best training sessions possible to improve their level.
- Striving to create the best players and persons as possible.
- Helping build our club culture and philosophy bringing back what we once had.