Ironic twist as Spirit coach moves on, to tackle former club
FORMER Western Spirit head coach Mario Malesevic has left the club in an improved position and appreciative of the support he received.
However, in an ironic twist, last year's men's senior team mentor will coach against Spirit in the 2021 Football Brisbane competition.
Wanting to coach in the Brisbane Premier League (BPL) this year, Malesevic accepted a pre-Christmas opportunity with the Centenary Stormers, expecting Spirit to remain in Capital League 1 (CL1).
However, Goodna-based Spirit were recently admitted into the 2021 BPL competition after finishing in the CL1 top six last season.
Malesevic has handed over the Spirit coaching reins to last year's assistant Reginald Yaqub.
Ipswich football stalwart Nev O'Sullivan remains as Spirit Reserve Grade coach.
"He'll be all right,'' Malesevic said of Yaqub.
"I left Reggie there with a whole bunch of players . . . to give him something to work with.
"When I took the (Centenary) role on in December, I didn't think Spirit was going to be there (BPL).''
Malesevic thanked everyone who assisted him in last year's disrupted CL1 season, including long-serving Spirit club official Adrian "AJ'' Varkevisser.
"I've got a lot of respect for AJ. He's done a lot of work there and helped the club a lot out while I was there,'' Malesevic said.
"All the people there were very supportive.
"Nevie (O'Sullivan) was brilliant.
"All the boys were very good.
"I've got nothing but praises for the support that they have given to me throughout the whole year.''
The BPL season is set to kick off on March 6.
Varkevisser welcomed Spirit's move into a higher level competition with the top squad back training for a month.
"We've always wanted to be BPL,'' he said.
Having played a leading role at the club for 17 years, Varkevisser said Spirit would also field a number of senior City league and junior teams in respective competitions scheduled to start in April.
As for Malesevic's new role, it's a case of deja vu.
He's inherited a youthful team rich in promise, like the Spirit squad he took on this time last year.
"It's going to be another rebuilding year for me,'' Malesevic said.
"We're putting out a team with some brand new guys.''
As he did at Spirit, he'll adopt a positive approach to getting the best out of his players.
Malesevic was encouraged by what he achieved in his COVID disrupted year with Spirit.
Spirit was in the cluster of teams placed third to sixth that finished on the same points. Spirit progressed to a top six secondary competition to complete the extended season.
"We had to rebuild and all sorts of things and I think we ended up pretty good,'' he said.
"We finished strong.''