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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 January 2016
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 JANUARY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Northcote City signs young central defender from Panachaiki Greens sign Archibald from Fortuna Dusseldorf GEORGE STOGIANNOU Northcote City coach Alex Gymnopoulos must have been a good bloke in 2015 because he and the club got the Christmas present they wished for when young centre back Michalis Kavouniaris signed for the club on Christmas Eve. The NPL club was on the hunt for a centre back to join for the coming season when Andy Vlahos told them about a young centre back playing at financially-strapped Greek second division club Panachaiki, who was interested in a fresh start. The club agreed to fly him out for a trial and he arrived in Melbourne on 19 December. One training session and one trial game later and they snapped him up, signing him on 24 December. The decision to sign Ka- vouniaris was a 'no-brainer' according to Northcote City vice president Peter Kotsiris. “He surpassed our wildest expectations, to be honest. We had a really good look at him. His character, his personality, his attitude, his professionalism. For a boy who is only 22, I was actually shocked. I haven't seen many players like that with such a tremendous attitude. You can see the difference. That's why he's been a professional in Greece Northcote City’s Greek import. for quite a number of years. He's certainly a player who could play in Australia NPL level straight away. He's a really good kid, switched on.” The admiration, it seems, is mutual, with the player having little hesitation in signing up for the coming NPL season with Northcote as one of its visa players. “It was the way the people of the team approached me and the atmosphere inside the club amongst the players and the coach,” Kavouniaris explains. “There's a very good atmosphere. I like the mentality of the coach - the way he likes to play. He wants the team to play football, not just win by playing random football. He wants well-structured football beginning with the defence. And that's what I like to do. I like to play, not just kick the ball to the other end of the field.” Born in Chania, in Crete, the young footballer learnt PHOTO: NORTHCOTE CITY FACEBOOK. his craft playing junior and youth football at Aris Soudas and Heraklion team Ergotelis before joining second division team Panachaiki, where he played senior football. He says of the decision to leave his homeland: “I can see that in Greece I didn't have many opportunities because of the (financial) difficulties now, so it was an easy decision to come for football, but difficult to leave my family. “It was difficult for them because I've been away (from home) since I was 16 to 19 years old - playing at Heraklion. I was living alone. After that I came back for two years, then I left again for Panachaiki. Now I've come to another county and continent. It's hard for them but they support me. They understand that's what I want to do and I want to succeed. And in order to succeed, I have to follow my dream and leave Greece." Kavouniaris, who speaks fluent English, says that in New Greens signing Ross Archibald (C) during his first spell with the Greens. Greece, Australian football is thought of as at a low level. “But that's not true - we think that because we're far away and we don't know what's happening here. So when I came, I saw that the teams are, in levels of conditioning and natural fitness, way above anything I've seen. It's more like English football, the team going up and down. They are not so technical. But the level is not as poor as we think in Greece. It's actually very good.” He told Neos Kosmos that he knew of Ange Postecoglou “because I was playing for Panachaiki, which is a team he used to manage when he was in Greece. I knew something about him before I came. Actually I think he's done a very good job with the national team and with the teams he managed here before joining the national team”. Being used to moving towns and cities from a young age has helped him as far as set- tling into his new life in Melbourne. “I love the city. It's very good, it's clean. Life in Australia is suitable for a footballer. As you know, you have to maintain a good level of life. Not going for drinks - be focused on your target. I think Melbourne is the perfect place to do that.” When asked what his goals are for this season, he replies he wants to achieve the team goals. “Whatever the board wants to achieve, to make the fans happy and to have a good atmosphere inside the club, to be happy as a team. A good atmosphere in the dressing room. Enjoy the football we play and have success.” Northcote vice president Kotsiris says that Kavouniaris has been at the club for less than a month and he's already providing leadership. “Like I said, we're very excited to have him in our ranks. We think he's going to have a really good season with us. Onwards and upwards for PHOTO: BENTLEIGH GREENS FACEBOOK. him. I think he's a player who could definitely play in the A-League.” Like Northcote, Bentleigh Greens has also signed a young defender from an overseas club ahead of the 2016 NPL season. Former Melbourne City player Ross Archibald has signed from German Bundesliga 2 club, Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he spent six months with the U21 side. The six-foot-tall, 21-yearold Queenslander made his senior debut with Brisbane Olympic before moving to Melbourne City for the 20142015 season. He also spent a short five-game stint at Bentleigh Greens before leaving mid-2015 to join Fortuna. He returns now for his second stint with the reigning NPL champion, which has recruited heavily in the wake of significant player turnover. The latest to leave is midfielder Troy Ruthven, who returns to Queensland to study and play for Gold Coast City. Carli Lloyd is the best soccer player in the world And she thanks her Greek Australian personal trainer for it The soccer world had its own glitzy awards ceremony at FIFA's annual gala in Zurich. The event turned out to be a big night for the US women's soccer team: Captain Carli Lloyd was named Women's Player of the Year (the ultimate honour in the sport), thanks to her Greek Australian personal trainer James Galanis. During her acceptance speech, Lloyd gave a special shout-out to her personal trainer. "We started this journey 13 years ago and you told me I could become the best player in the world," she said. "It just took me now [to realise] that I could." Her whole career she'd been told "you're the best, you're the best", and had fallen into a trap where she'd become lax. She was able to get away with giving only 70 or 80 per cent, which was good enough. About 12 years ago, she was cut from the national U21 team. She was invited back because another player got hurt, but had a decision to make about her future. She wasn't starting, was getting hardly any playing time, wasn't in shape or mentally strong. So maybe it was time to give it up. That's when her father sought help from local New Jersey soccer guru James Galanis, the director of soccer operations for the Universal Soccer Academy. He had a reputation of turning players into world-class athletes and before Lloyd made a final decision, her father wanted to see if Galanis could work some magic. He did. Carli Lloyd and James Galanis.
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