Davor Tavich [centre] struggled at times to field a strong starting XI. PHOTOS/FILE

Tavich heads back to Nelson

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United are on the hunt for a new coach.

Coach Davor Tavich confirmed that Saturday’s 6-0 Central League win over Waterside-Karori to avoid relegation was his last act at the helm of the team.

He will take up a job as football development officer with FC Nelson from next Monday.

Tavich took the reins at United with the aim of improving on a 2019 season when the team failed to win a game and finished bottom equal with Wellington United but avoided relegation because of a better goal difference.

United ended the 2020 season with four wins and four draws, equal on points with Petone, and two points ahead of Stop Out who were relegated to the Capital Premier League.

They beat three teams in the top half of the table – champions Miramar Rangers, Wellington Olympic, and Lower Hutt City – but it was Saturday’s emphatic defeat of Waterside-Karori that Tavich treasured the most.

“I’ve been waiting on that pretty much the whole season, so I’m very fortunate that I got to see it.

“I really loved every minute of it. It was just unbelievable to watch the younger players and the senior players put it together for the supporters and everybody,” he said.

“I was just over the moon. That was by far the proudest moment for me in the many years that I’ve been in football.”

The season was far from plain sailing for the team with injuries and suspensions robbing Tavich of key players, and at times he struggled to field a competitive side.

“As soon as we had a few injuries, we were down pretty much to bare bones.

“The depth was not there, and on Thursdays, I would worry about whether we had 11 players for the game and then I’d put on the bench any of the young talents I could find.

“The results the club are achieving, with everything that’s gone against them, player-wise, money-wise and the size of the club, it’s very impressive that they actually stay in the Central League.”

“It was a pretty hard season, but at the end of the day we achieved what we set out to do which was stay in the league.

“In the process, we got quite a few of the younger players coming through getting that Central League experience, so it has been successful in that regard.”

Hadley Wiramanaden [right] is one of the young players who has improved under Davor Tavich’s coaching.

Josh Rudland, Jonty Roubos, Connor Turton, Riley Grover, Noah Boyce, Hadley Wiramanaden, and outstanding goalkeeper Scott Morris were some of the young players who flourished under Tavich’s coaching.

Many of them play two games a weekend, and often twice on the same day for their colleges and the club.

Tavich said that was an issue that United needed to sort out with their colleges.

“All these games are demanding on the young players, and they have to find a solution for that.

“Whether it’s possible or not I’m not quite sure, but that’s a big disadvantage to Wairarapa United as a club.

“For the players involved, they’re just overloaded, and it’s really hard to demand a performance that you really need to get a good result if you have to play two very hard games.”

Tavich said part of the solution could be for the colleges to work closer with the Paul Ifill Football Academy.

“A lot of players go into the academy and have played really well for Wairarapa last year and this year, and I’m pretty sure there are more to come.

“Paul also puts a lot of time and effort into the club, and he’s doing great work with the young players.

“If that can be backed by schools around the region and their players be sent to the academy and have the development under one roof.”

That would be better than having players developed in different pockets of the region where nobody knows what anybody else is doing because you can monitor their progress a lot better, he said.

As for the future, Tavich said United must add depth to the squad to be competitive in the Central League.

“They probably need more sponsorship money and people around town to invest in the club and hope to get some new players for next year.

“You need at least 20-22 players to get you through the season and be in a position to challenge for something more than just a relegation battle.

“If you could get some more quality senior players and mix them with the talent that’s obviously around Wairarapa, you will have a really good squad, and a good club that can represent the region in the best possible way.”

Outgoing Wairarapa United chairwoman Wendy Turton said Tavich did a fantastic job for the club, and it would be a loss not to have him back for the 2021 season. The club would advertise the coach’s position shortly.



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