Monday, July 6, 2009

Dinamo Zagreb youth coaches hope to return next year

Photo (L-R): Ivan Senzen, Dinko Jelicic and Romeo Jozak of Dinamo Zagreb

Three youth coaches from the famous European football club Dinamo Zagreb were in Hobart on Saturday but missed out on their talent scouting mission because of the cancellation of the match between South Hobart and Glenorchy Knights.

Romeo Jozak, Dinko Jelicic and Ivan Senzen are three of four youth coaches visiting Australia at present to seek out talent.

Dinamo Zagreb is where Mark Viduka began his European playing career, while current Arsenal star, Eduardo, also started at the club before moving to the English Premier League.

The four coaches held a one-week clinic in Melbourne last week and they will be in Canberra this week and in Sydney next week.

“We have invited two youngsters from Melbourne to try out with Dinamo Zagreb later in the year,” said Jozak, 37, who is the youth academy director at the club and in charge of all youth development.

“One is of Croatian background and the other of Greek background, but that is not important.

“We look for quality and these two guys showed potential.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get to see a game in Tasmania as we were hoping to see what level soccer is at here and assess the whole environment.”

Jelicic, 36, is Dinamo Zagreb’s under-19 coach and he said character was the most important thing he looked for in young players.

“Character, including discipline, is the number one thing I look for, and after that come skill and physical disposition,” Jelicic said.

“Discipline is the first level of character, and then there is team spirit and the willingness to play for the team rather than for yourself.

“My job is to develop players for the first team because the benefits are great as it is expensive to buy players from elsewhere.

“At present, our senior team is composed of 70 per cent players we have developed and 30 per cent players we have bought.

“We also sell players to other clubs in Europe and Croatia.”

Senzen, 28, coaches the club’s under-7s through to the under-11s and under-12s.

“Our emphasis at these levels is 90 per cent on technique and 10 per cent on coordination,” Senzen said.

“In the four years we have these boys, they have to become technically complete so that they can play on the big field and play real soccer.

“At under-7s they play 9-a-side, including a goalkeeper, on half a pitch, and they don’t move to 11-a-side until the under-11s or under-12s.”

The visiting coaches said they were hoping to return to Tasmania next year and assess the local talent.

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