Thursday, November 26, 2020

Football is all-consuming for Bighin and Dillon

Photo:  Luke Bighin (right) about to tackle Devonport's Joel Stone [PlessPix]

NPL Tasmania players Luke Bighin (Kingborough Lions United) and Riley Dillon (Clarence Zebras) are showing themselves to be entrepreneurs as well as footballers.

The pair own Strike Soccer School, which offers after-school soccer activities for youngsters.

The enterprise is going so well that the pair hope to expand their activities to Launceston soon.

I spoke to Luke Bighin about his football career and his plans for the future for the business.

Walter Pless:  How old are you, Luke?

Luke Bighin:  I’m 20 years old.

WP:  How long have you been playing football?

LB:  14 years.

WP:  Which clubs have you played for?

LB:  I have played for Zebras FC, University Soccer Club and my current club is Kingborough Lions FC.

WP:   What is your favoured position?

LB:  I have predominantly played centre-back (right) in senior environments.

WP:  What are your thoughts about the NPL?

LB: I think it is an extremely fun league to play in and to follow.  Each club is intriguing for many individual reasons.  For example, the comeback of Adam McKeown at Kingborough Lions, the major new signings for Glenorchy Knights and Olympia, and the young talent seen at various other clubs.

WP:  What's the main difference between playing in the NPL and in the Southern Championship?

LB:  The main difference as a player is the difference in some of the key fundamentals of football.  As a whole, the physicality, skill level and professionalism is at a higher level in the NPL.

WP:  What made you eventually move to Kingborough Lions United?

LB:  I was intending to try and play NPL again after my season at University.  Jez  [Kenth] had sent me a message so I went down to the Den for pre-season and ended up staying.

Photo:  Riley Dillon celebrates a goal for Clarence Zebras [PlessPix]

WP:  What is the name of your enterprise and how did it come about?

LB:  Strike Soccer School (formerly Hobart Soccer School) came about because Riley Dillon and myself had the shared vision to provide primary schools with an after-school soccer program.  We both believe that soccer provides many benefits for children.  It promotes a healthy lifestyle and builds confidence and resilience.  There are also so many long-term benefits of playing the game, such as being able to start your own soccer school.

WP:  What do you offer?

LB:  We offer various soccer programs, including our main After-School Soccer Program.  Our After-School Program runs straight after school at various different primary schools around the State.  We also run our own holiday clinics during the school holidays.  Our programs are all focused on development and fun.

All the information on our programs can be found on our website (

WP:  Are you expanding the business?

LB:  We are offering our After-School Soccer Program to any primary schools that want to get on board.  We started operating with just two schools in our first term nearly a year ago.  We now operate at seven schools, which include Lansdowne Crescent, Goulburn Street, Montagu Bay, Princes Street, Campbell Street, Sorell School and Moonah Primary school.  We have booked in a number of new schools for term 1 of 2021, which Riley and myself are super excited about.  We are always open to discussions with local schools to see if they want to partner with us so we can provide our program to more children.

WP:  What is your ultimate goal with this business?

LB:  Riley and I don't have any firm goals with the business.  We are just focused on providing the best programs we can for the children we coach.  Soccer is a great activity for children and it promotes a healthy lifestyle while providing development in self-confidence and resilience.  We want to coach as many children as we can and promote the sport in a positive way.

WP:   What is your football future?

LB:  I am hoping to make football full-time.  This means being an established NPL Tasmania player and full-time coach at Strike Soccer School.  Hopefully, I can make this goal a reality in the near future.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Vale Karl Schwesinger, footballer and coach

Photo:  Karl Schwesinger with his trademark smile conveying his marvellous sense of humour [PlessPix]

Karl Schwesinger, one of Tasmanian football’s most successful players and coaches, has passed away in Hobart.

Schwesinger, 80, a skilled pastry chef from Vienna, came to Tasmania from Austria in 1960 and played with Rapid, a club founded by Austrian and German immigrants a couple of years before.

He played for Rapid, Rangers, Juventus, Olympia, South Hobart, White Eagles and Eastern Suburbs in an illustrious career which saw him represent Tasmania three times, including against overseas sides Cardiff City and an English FA XI.

In 1966, he was named as the player-of-the-year by The Saturday Evening Mercury.

He coached Juventus to the club’s first-ever league title in 1969 in what was his first coaching assignment.

Schwesinger’s coaching knowledge came, as he himself said, by watching the work of top coaches such as Alex Sarfalvy and Peter Cagialis.

In four years of coaching, from 1969 to 1972, he won two State premierships.

After coaching Juventus, he coached South Hobart for a season and then took the reins at White Eagles.

Schwesinger won the prestigious Rothmans Gold Medal in 1972, when he was player-coach of South Hobart.  The award was in its second year and was won the previous year by another South Hobart player-coach, John Kirkpatrick, who passed away earlier this year.

Schwesinger was versatile as a player and during his career he played as a winger, fullback, centre-forward and centre-half.

As a player, he played in five premiership sides  -  three with Olympia and one each with Juventus and Rapid.

He had been a regular spectator at local games, together with his wife Ros, during the past few years following the formation of the Victory League in 2013.

He missed the 2020 season because of illness and passed away last Wednesday.

Photo:  Karl Schwesinger (left) enjoying a cup of coffee while watching a game at KGV Park with former Rapid team-mate Walter Nikolai [PlessPix]

Some of my friends and I often stood with Karl at games at KGV Park, South Hobart, Warrior Park, Lightwood Park and Wentworth Park and we missed him this season.

We would have long chats with him about football nowadays and about his past experiences.

He sometimes brought bags of apples for us from his large orchard at Margate, where he lived.  On occasions, he would provide Viennese pastry delicacies.

He worked at Cadbury’s and Silk & Textiles, and even drove taxis, before starting up his own pastry business, which proved enormously popular as his experience as a Viennese pastry chef and confectioner came to the fore.

Karl will be missed and I am sure that readers who knew him will join with me in offering sincere condolences to Ros and their family.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Indigo Sharp to trial with South Hobart

Photo:  Indigo Sharp will trial with South Hobart later this month

An 18-year-old goalkeeper from Queensland will arrive in Hobart on Sunday, 29 November 2020, for a one-week trial with NPL Tasmania club, South Hobart.

Indigo Sharp, standing at just over 185 cm, has been playing in goal in the Gold Coast Junior Premier League for the past 7 years.

He has been mentored by former Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo

Photo:  Sharp's save in Borneo which drew accolades

He has played in the Borneo Cup in South East Asia and one of his saves was voted as one of the top three saves in the tournament.

Sharp is the son of former professional footballer Dane Sharp, who played in Austria for two seasons with SV Horn, where he was the top scorer with 38 goals.

He was with Sydney City, Adelaide City and Newcastle Breakers in the old NSL in Australia.

His first venture overseas was in England where he played five games for Queens Park Rangers reserves and had time with Plymouth Argyle before work permit problems stymied his future in the UK.

Dane Sharp is now a singer and songwriter, as well as a film maker.

He was involved in filming the controversial documentary “The Abbas Saad Story”, which aired on Australian television.

The younger Sharp, Indigo, will trial with South Hobart for a week and is hoping to earn a contract and play in the NPL Tasmania competition.

South Hobart have been on the hunt for a goalkeeper to provide some competition for Nathan Reid and Mark Moncur.

The two shared goalkeeping duties in 2020, but Moncur is close to retirement and is probably not keen to turn out for another season.

Dane Sharp said Indigo was looking forward to impressing at the trial and had been training hard to prepare himself.

He said his son is a very competitive young man and would relish the chance to show what he can do in senior football.