HARRY Chalkitis is a man on a mission and for Southern United’s sake let’s hope it’s not mission impossible.
Two-time Victorian Coach of the Year, former men’s state team coach, head coach of Bentleigh Greens and Port Melbourne, head coach of Victoria Vision in the women’s NSL, head of Victoria’s National Training Centre women’s program …
The list of coaching credits goes on and on but right now Chalkitis is focused on a major challenge as Southern United technical director and it’s one he is meeting head-on.
“Football is all about results and we have to be results focussed,” Chalkitis said.
“Anyone who says it’s not is either on another planet or doesn’t have a clue.
“Why do you play if you don’t play to win?
“Development has its place but it will happen while you’re winning games and it has to be like that.”
Southern’s results created records last season but for the wrong reasons.
It drew one of its 27 league games, scored five goals and had 188 scored against it.
Chalkitis restructured the club’s coaching set-up and now is working on overhauling the senior squad.
“I definitely think we can turn things around and if we can start getting results there will be a different emphasis at the club and people outside the club will start looking at us differently.”
Chalkitis is on the phone daily to his many contacts in the game, arranging meetings with coaches and casting a wide net in search of the players who can best fill the club’s two available visa spots.
His long-standing friendship with Arsenal women’s head coach and former Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City W-League coach Joe Montemurro may reap rewards and the appointment of Uruguayan-born Washington Castillo as senior coach has allowed Southern to look at players from South America.
But Chalkitis is not only focusing on sifting through overseas visa prospects.
He’s also searching local and interstate markets for players that would be a good fit for Southern.
He has held discussions with a high-profile goalkeeper and he’s hoping that his Victory and Melbourne City contacts will allow him to deal directly with players who may be lured to Southern at the end of the current W-League season.
Southern’s 2018 captain Natasha Dakic and goalkeeper Freya Crocker have left the club but for Chalkitis these are minor hiccups along the way and all part of the off-season merry-go-round that is a hallmark of the modern game.
He admits that the club was keen to retain Dakic who is a talented central defender or midfielder but it looks likely that she will join Box Hill United.
“We’ve already achieved one target which was to develop our under-19 squad instead of relying on players from younger squads to supplement that team.
“We’ve got 14 to 15 girls training twice a week under Aaron (Myatt) and I’m pleased with the way that is progressing.”
Chalkitis has been looking at the local women’s scene and targets have been identified and will be contacted this week.
He’s keen to bolster the midfield and striking stocks and he’s confident that he’ll get the players that can turn things around.
“My first aim is to make sure that players who come to Southern and play for us next year are here to compete not just to have a training session.
“Respect is what makes it or breaks it.
“If we can get a bit of respect around the traps where people say ‘we’re going to Southern but there’s no guarantee that we’re going to win’ then we will have improved.”
In State 1 South-East news veteran midfielder Craig Smart has signed on for a ninth straight season at Mornington.
Smart, 35, is a former Frankston Strikers, Frankston Pines and Bentleigh Greens star who has left an indelible mark on the local scene.
It’s believed that Doveton and Peninsula Strikers were among a group of clubs keen to talk to the Scot who has been on the books of Edinburgh giants Hibs and Hearts.
“I’ve got a strong bond with a lot of guys still at Mornington and with the senior team in a rebuilding stage there’s a lot of juniors coming through which is what attracted me to play another year there,” Smart said.
“I contemplated retiring but there’s a couple of incentives to help the young guys coming through.
“It’s year by year now for me and I had a tough season last season which is why I considered my options.”
Smart is a popular figure among his peers and next season he’ll come up against many former teammates who are in the senior squad at newly promoted Doveton.
“I’ve been around for a while so there are plenty of old teammates that I play against nowadays but yes it’ll be good fun playing against Doveton.”
It will be even more fun if Mornington wins a place in Victoria’s elite club competition which will adopt a three-tier structure after next season.
“It’s exciting to think about promotion next season and getting the club into a position it’s never been in. I want to be part of that.”
In State 2 South-East news there has been a change to Peninsula Strikers’ pre-season fixtures.
Danny Verdun’s men will now take on NPL giant Oakleigh Cannons at Centenary Park on the evening of Tuesday 22 January and the Kingston City match scheduled for the following day has been called off.
Strikers’ central defender George Whiteoak is expected to join State 1 outfit Mazenod Victory.
In State 3 South-East news Frankston Pines announced last week that it had secured the signing of 23-year-old Callum Khaiyath for season 2019.
“CK” is a former Dandenong City and Knox City junior who made the breakthrough into senior ranks with Casey Comets under Billy Armour.
He made his senior debut for Langwarrin under Gus Macleod in 2016 and was part of the Lawton Park club’s 2017 championship-winning squad.
“He is an accomplished, versatile footballer who can play in a variety of positions and we are delighted to have secured the services of a player who was being pursued by a number of clubs,” Football Operations Manager Lee Davies said.
Khaiyath joined Noble Park United in round 4 last season.
“He is a right footer and is comfortable playing in either full-back position, as a centre back or in the middle of the park,” Pines senior coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor said.
“He’s fit, has an excellent work rate and technically is very good.”
Pines announced yesterday (Monday) that it also had signed 18-year-old Bailey Atkinson.
The attacking full back has received an outstanding football education with NPL clubs Bentleigh Greens, Dandenong Thunder and Dandenong City.
“We are delighted to welcome another quality young player to the club,” president Steve Spencer said.
“Bailey is an exciting local talent who has opted to join us over an NPL club.
“Credit must go to Lee (Davies) and ‘Squizzy’ (Kevin Taylor) who have identified and secured Bailey who we view as a long-term senior player for Frankston Pines.”
In State 4 South news Seaford United has clinched the signing of striker Mitch Lander who left North Seaford Reserve to play for Pines last season.
“Mitch is a massive signing for us,” Seaford senior coach Matt Morris-Thomas said.
“His forward pressure on and off the ball will be really important next season and he’s already shown that he can score goals so we’re delighted to have him back at the club.”
Morris-Thomas is negotiating with a central defender and two central midfielders from local clubs and hopes to reach agreement this week.
“Things are starting to come together really well and we want to become a more professional outfit,” he said.
“We’ve locked in a physio which we haven’t had for a while, we’ve got the new changerooms and we’re basically rebuilding the squad.”