Welcome to the first edition of From The Dugout With Ante Milicic. Each month, the Melbourne Heart FC Assistant Coach and former Socceroo will provide insights into the challenges facing a new football club, detailing his unique perspective.
By Ante Milicic
The path from playing to coaching has been one taken by many members of my generation, from the likes of Paul Okon and Tony Popovic, to Aurelio Vidmar.
Each of these players moved into an Assistant Coaching role soon after the end of their playing careers, taking the opportunity to learn from more experienced coaches, and I feel I am in that position now.
Joining Melbourne Heart FC has allowed me to take the next step in my coaching career after getting a solid grounding with Sydney United last year.
Leading United to the minor premiership last year taught me a lot about myself and where I am as a coach. While most of the things I applied at Edensor Park were my own ideas and philosophies in the game, I feel I need to be in a new environment where I am learning from people with different types of experience.
I think it is the right time for me to go into this kind of role and I-m fortunate that I-m in a position where I am working alongside two great names of world football in John van ‘t Schip and Jesper Olsen, which was a massive drawcard in accepting the role and moving to Melbourne.
Having played in Holland, I know the kind of players and coaches Ajax has produced over the years, so it-s the perfect opportunity for me to gain some fresh tactical insights.
Over the last 18 months, I-ve completed a lot of preparatory work to enter the coaching game, completing my AFC licenses, working through the education system with Football Federation Australia.
I also have been able to work with the National Under 20s, and that was a great opportunity for me as not only did I work with the players who were selected in the final squad for the World Cup but the fringe players as well.
Working with Jan Versleijen provided a real familiarity with the system which we are hoping to adopt here at the Heart, particularly as we had to educate youngsters who yet hadn-t experienced intense training within the system.
I think it-s important our youth players follow this path and learn the system as it will help their development, and I am proud Melbourne Heart FC will be utilising this approach moving forward.
It was a great experience coaching the youngsters as I followed that path through the AIS and the Young Socceroos, and understood the challenges and stresses these players face as they try to make their way through the system.
Joining an organisation that is in its early stages is something which is very different and a challenge. The experience has been exciting so far, and will no doubt become more so over the coming months as the players arrive and we begin pre-season training.
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