Monday, December 14, 2020

I almost walked alone to watch this movie, and other news snippets

Photo:  Liverpool FC before the game against Sydney FC on 24 May 2017 [PlessPix]
I had the pleasure of watching a documentary about Liverpool FC at Village Cinemas in Hobart on Sunday afternoon.

“The End of The Storm” documents Liverpool’s EPL triumph in 2019-20.

It was their first EPL title and the first league title the club has won in 30 years.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and was disappointed there was only one screening in Hobart and that it was not widely advertised.

Apparently, a local Liverpool FC supporters’ club arranged for the screening in Hobart.

There were only about eight people in attendance, but there are, of course, hundreds of Liverpool supporters in Hobart and I imagine they’ll get to watch the film at some time in another way.

Jurgen Klopp is at the heart of the film and interviews with him feature prominently in the movie.

It also features interviews with Liverpool fans in other countries, including Brazil, India, Japan, China and America.

Photo:  40,000 showed up in Sydney to watch the Reds [PlessPix]

Several players are interviewed at length and the movie documents how Liverpool’s aspirations were almost dealt a mortal blow by the Covid pandemic.

There’s nothing like watching football on the big screen and this movie is a perfect example of this.

Training sessions are shown and the physical fitness and athleticism of the squad is evident.  The players are lean machines and there is no sign of surplus kilos on any of them.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a hot Sunday summer afternoon and it was a pity that the event was not more widely advertised.

It reminded me of the movies about Maradona and Bert Trautmann, which screened at the State Theatre some months ago and which, sadly, did not attract large audiences despite the fact the Covid pandemic had not struck here yet.


New Town White Eagles will have a women’s team in the Women’s Southern Championship next season.

Shane Revell has been appointed coach and he is excited at the prospect.

There will be a ‘meet and greet’ event at 6pm at the Polish Club on Wednesday, when prospective players can meet and find out about the plans for 2021.

Pre-season training will start on Tuesday, 19 January 2021.

Revell said:  “It’s a new and exciting challenge for me and I am looking forward to it.”


I wrote recently about Eli Luttmer joining Glenorchy Knights for the 2021 NPL Tasmania season.

Olympia Warriors’ Nick Mearns and Adam Gorrie have also joined Knights.

It looks as if Knights will have an abundance of riches in their playing squad and coach James Sherman’s biggest challenge could be to keep all the players happy.

Knights had a very strong squad last season when they finished second, but with the latest additions it’s going to somewhat hard to keep everyone happy by giving them game time.

I have also heard whispers that Olympia’s Ben Hamlett and Loic Feral may be heading back to their former club, South Hobart.



Sunday, December 13, 2020

Romilton Amaral Rosa to take the reins at Beachside

Photo:  Romilton Amaral Rosa at the appropriately nicknamed Beachside ground of The Tropicana.

Romilton Amaral Rosa, who hails from Brazil, has been appointed coach of Southern Championship club, Beachside.

He has played and coached in Tasmania for a decade or more.

He has been away in Africa for several years and now that he has returned to Tasmania he is looking forward to the challenge of coaching Beachside. 

I spoke to Romilton about his background and the new challenge he faces.

1.   Which clubs have you played for?

I played in a local team called Estudante in my hometown in Brazil and other representative teams. I stopped playing when I was 26 years old. Later on, when I came to Tasmania I decided to play in the old Division One with South Hobart, Hobart Wanderers as well as Howrah and Hobart United. 

2.   Which clubs have you coached?

Youth teams at South Hobart and Glenorchy Knights. Then I spent a couple of years in Brazil, where I coached Estudante and Monte Formoso. I returned to Tasmania and my last experience was for 3 years with the seniors team at University. 

3.   Have you won any trophies as a player, and as a coach?

As player I won the local Brazil Independence Tournament, which was a big honour, and a couple championships. I still keep some nice pics of this era in my Facebook.  As coach, I won two championships and two cups in a row with University. 

4.   Why are you coming back to coaching?

I love football. As I cannot play anymore, the most logical thing is to work to develop players who can resemble you.  A player who can do in the field the things that you used to do. I’m always keen to see someone coming through the ranks being able to replicate that. This is my inspiration and the reason why I always go back to coaching. 

5.   What will your coaching philosophy be?

I like an attacking style of football. My source of inspiration are the Brazil teams of '92 and '96, along with the Arsenal of Henry and Bergkamp.

6.   What do you hope to achieve at Beachside?

Beachside is a 45-year-old club with the ambition to play in the NPL, which I believe is possible. We can work towards narrowing the gap and get ourselves into a position where we can compete with the NPL teams on an equal footing.  As a former University coach, I have memories of beating Launceston City once and Knights twice. We had two close games with Kingborough. On top of that, we had an epic final draw, going to 122 minutes extra time with Olympia (who were the top-league champions of that year) with four goals each.  Therefore, if Beachside is keen to recreate these conditions, I have no doubt that we will reach these goals and my hope is to be part of this history.

7.   Why did you choose to go to a second-tier side?

I think that I have accumulated enough experience to be able to coach an NPL club, but to be in that role isn’t only dependent upon me. By being away from the field for a few years, it is not easy for clubs to have confidence in someone who has never done the job on that level before. I have been through all the coaching courses which have been administered in Tasmania. As I am more interested in competition (performance) rather than development for its own sake, I am no longer prepared to coach NPL youth teams. Given this situation, I would like to take a championship team and, together with them, make a way to reach the NPL level. 

8.   How do you rate Tasmanian football at present?

I just spent four years doing volunteer work in Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It is difficult to compare clubs and leagues in different states or countries. For me, the important thing is to see the progress that Tasmanian Football has gone through. Despite our issues, we have seen some breakthroughs of the Tasmanian clubs over those on the Mainland and as evidence of the quality of our players, more and more of them are going to there for trials. Also, women’s football has gone to another level altogether. They are playing an entertaining and beautiful style of football. Also, I watched a schools competition this week and I could see the kids doing some very complex combination play. The teams were very well structured, and listening to their coach’s instructions and language. It showed to me it was all sound football. So, I think this is what really counts and we are definitely moving in the right direction.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Tommy Fotak appointed as coach of Eagles

Photo:  Tommy Fotak at yesterday's announcement [Photo courtesy of New Town White Eagles]

Tommy Fotak was yesterday announced as the new coach of Southern Championship side New Town White Eagles.

Fotak will lead the club into its 60th anniversary year alongside newly appointed senior assistant Adam Shackcloth.

A former White Eagles player, Fotak was most recently NPL coach at Hobart Zebras. He returns to football after an absence focused on family and the operation of a successful Tasmanian technology company.

Photo:  Eagles president Grant Nutting (left) welcomes Tommy Fotak to the club [Photo courtesy of New Town White Eagles]

White Eagles president Grant Nutting explained:  “To have an individual of Tommy’s quality leading our club into its 60th season is extremely exciting. Alongside his technical attributes, Tommy brings with him great character and his appointment is significant step towards our club achieving great things in 2021 and beyond”.

Fotak said:  “I am really excited by the opportunity to build on the work that Dreamer [Andrew Leszczynski] and the coaching staff have done over the past seven years.

"Performances on and off the field demonstrate this is a club on the rise and that is a credit to Grant and the committee and everyone involved at Eagles.

Photo:  Assistant coach Adam Shackcloth (left) and Tommy Fotak [Photo courtesy of New Town White Eagles]

"I'm honoured to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead this group and the club in their anniversary year.

"I can't wait to get out on the track and get to work.  I encourage anyone that wants to be part of the journey to come along and get involved however they can."

Further coaching appointments and player signings are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Pre-season training will begin on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021.

Photo:  Eagles captain Andy Clark (left), with new coach Tommy Fotak and senior player James Vernon [Photo courtesy of New Town White Eagles]

I spoke to Tommy today about his coaching background and the task he now faces.

Walter Pless:  Which clubs have you played for?

Tommy Fotak:  I played a season with Olympia in the 1994/95 summer State League, but the bulk of my years were spent playing with Eagles and Zebras.

WP:  Which clubs have you coached?

TF:  At senior level, Zebras and now Eagles.

WP:  Have you won any trophies as a player, and as a coach?

TF:  As a player, I won the premiership with Eagles in 1998, Lakoseljac Cup with Zebras in 2003, and a premiership with Zebras in 2004.  These were in competitions that were considered the top flight at the time.  As a coach I haven't won anything at senior level yet.

WP:  Why are you coming back to coaching?

TF:  I've always enjoyed coaching and wanted to get back involved at some stage.  I see it as a way of contributing to community.  For football to be played competitively, we need coaches, referees, committees and match-day helpers, as well as players.  Coaching is my preferred way of being involved.  It also engages my competitive appetite!  Timing is a big factor.  I was thinking about what I would like to do if I could retire tomorrow and, no joke, what came to mind in terms of keeping me mentally active was coaching and keeping bees.  No time is ever perfect and I realised that I could do one of those things now, so why not?  I had really good conversations with Eagles and they understood my concerns about my time commitments with football, my business and my personal life and they were incredibly open about working with me to manage all that to try to ensure that we all get good outcomes.

WP:  What will your coaching philosophy be?

TF:  I went back and re-read my Coaching Manifesto I put together in 2013 when I first got involved in coaching at senior level.  It was a good reminder of the ideals I have when it comes to coaching and the expectations I have of myself and any group of players that I work with.  From a playing perspective, I prefer possession-based attacking football, but who doesn't?  I love tempo football, being able to take your foot off the gas, be composed, but when the moment is right, really apply pressure and intensity for sustained periods.  From a practical point of view, I want players and supporters of the club to be able to objectively see that the team and individuals  -  including myself  -  are continually improving, that we are always moving forward, not necessarily in a straight line, but forward nonetheless.

WP:  What do you hope to achieve at Eagles?

TF:  Ultimately, the title and promotion.  That's what is being asked of me and it's a fair challenge, and that's what I've joined to do.  That will be based on hard work and continual improvement.  If we don't win the title but we have improved by certain metrics, like total points or goal difference, then that is progress.

WP:  Why did you choose to go to a second-tier side?

TF:  In this case, the challenge of promotion is a reason, but for me, it's not really about tiers.  It's about where I think I can do my best work, where I think I fit and add value and where I think a club sees value in my efforts.  A big factor was the conversations we had around my time commitments in other facets of my life and how we can manage that as a club and coaching group.  Grant [Nutting] and the Eagles committee were really understanding and supportive and we all believe we have a setup where I can do my best work and deliver really good outcomes for the club.

WP:  How do to rate Tasmanian football at present?

TF:  This is a really nuanced question and any answer really depends on your perspective.  The game has tens of thousands of stakeholders and they each have different perspectives.  My daughter plays AFL and I would say that at a grassroots level football is streets ahead of AFL.  Our challenge is to turn those fields of grass into forests of trees, if I may wax philosophical for a moment.  Pragmatically, the game faces all the same challenges that other sports in this State face and I don't think we are doing any worse or better than them.  From my personal perspective, I think as a whole, it is in a transitional period and has been for some time.  This is not a criticism of any people in the game  It is due to societal changes that have occurred over the last twenty years.  To move out of that transition we need to look at our strengths as a sport and as a community and island State and aim for a future built on the unique value those vectors combined bring.  This is far easier to say sitting here than it is to achieve in reality.  Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but I do think it is achievable.

 Photo:  Tommy Fotak has big plans for Eagles [PlessPix]