South Melbourne FC has announced the appointment of one of its former junior and senior players (and former A-League coach), Michael Valkanis, to the position of Head of Football Development.
South hopes the appointment of Valkanis will help reinvigorate the club’s Youth Program. Valkanis, who took up a role as assistant manager alongside John Van’t Schip at Dutch Eredivisie club PEC Zwolle in June 2018, will manage and guide the SMFC Youth Program whilst continuing his role at the Dutch club.
At South, Valkanis will work alongside newly appointed Sporting Director Daniel Gerardi, as well as Strati Xynas (Boys Technical Director) and Mick Gallo (Girls Technical Director).
“I now have the opportunity to put in place a youth program that will play a significant role in identifying talent and overseeing the selection of potential future South players,” Valkanis said, in a statement on SMFC.com.
“Most importantly, the program will help develop, guide and nurture our future footballers in these important years when they chase their dreams as I did once upon a time.”
In his statement, Valkanis goes on to expand a little on his youth development philosophy:
“Where others train one team, we want to train 20 individuals,” he says.
“Where others see a youth program of 10 teams, we see 200 individuals.
“We will strive to educate the players on every aspect of the game as we implement a playing style and work towards improving every player to fulfil their potential within the team.
“The technical resources of a team cannot only be measured in terms of what you go out and buy, but by what you produce internally within the club, starting with our own junior development program.”
Valkanis’s appointment to oversee Football Development may be an indication that the club recognises the need for more effective development of young talent for the senior team, given the dearth of players coming up from the youth teams into the senior team in recent years.