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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 4 March 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 4 MARCH 2017 27 SPORT RIP George Hatzipanagiotis 23-year-old Greek Australian soccer player dies in motorcycle accident THEODORA MAIOS Up-and-coming 23-yearold Greek Australian soccer player George Hatzipanagiotis died tragically last Wednesday night when he lost control of his speeding motorcycle. He collided with a parked car while travelling along Seaview Road at Henley Beach, bringing shock and sorrow to his family, friends and the entire South Australian community. According to the initial findings, the son of Michael and Helen, from the island of Samos and Katerini respectively, wore a helmet, but his injuries were severe, and although witnesses and residents rushed to the scene and tried in vain to save the young man, he died instantly before his friends' eyes. Nothing could be done to save him. "A young life was cut tragically short. Our son's beautiful smile is gone forever," said George's 52-year-old father about his eldest son, who once represented Australia as a junior soccer player. The apprentice electrician was riding his high-powered motorcycle with his friends around 10.00 pm when tragedy struck on Seaview Road. Security cameras captured the group of motorcycles leaving the nearby carpark seconds before the crash. "It was just heartbreaking. We could just hear wailing from the street as soon as the police went and announced his death," said one resident about George's heartbroken friends, who had spent the evening together admiring their friend's new motorbike that he had purchased a few days earlier. Major crash police spent hours at the scene with initial investigations, revealing the motorcycle was travelling above the 40km/hr speed limit. "We believe speed is definitely a factor; the actual speed he was going is still to be determined but it is clear to the investigators at this early stage that he was exceeding the 40km/hr speed limit," said Sergeant Christopher Lovell. Devastated relatives and friends gathered at the crash site on Thursday morning to leave floral tributes for the young man who attended St George College in Adelaide, while many of his friends took to Facebook to Bergers and South look to kick-start season in the derby The last time Heidelberg United met south Melbourne FC was a fateful match for both teams, as it ended Heidelberg's 2016 finals campaign and transported South into a grand final, which was ultimately a success. It's also a match that Bergers' midfielder Reuben Way would rather forget, as it was his red card late in the first half which turned the match in South's favour after the Bergers led through an early goal. South recovered and the rest is history. Saturday evening brings the old foes face to face once again at the Olympic Village, and it also marks the return of Reuben Way to the Bergers' line-up following suspension. Both teams have been under-performing this season, and have struggled to find the net despite having two of last season's top marksmen in their ranks, Kenny Athiu for the Bergers and Milos Lujic for South. The Bergers forward stocks will receive a much-needed shot in the arm with the return of Way and also Adrian Zahra from injury, while South coach Chris Taylor is also expected to make personnel and tactical changes following two successive defeats. It's a match both teams and both coaches would dearly love to win, and if last year's three matches between the two teams are anything to go by, fans can expect to see a result. The match kicks off at 7.30 pm at Olympic Village. Another big Round 4 NPL 1 match up today is the Hume City v Bentleigh Greens match at ABD stadium, which pits third against second. Last week, the Greens surprisingly suffered a rare home loss when it lowered its colours to Melbourne Knights in a 3-1 defeat after scoring first through an early Ross Honos goal. Last week it sorely missed a suspended Ross Archibald in defence. On Sunday afternoon, 10th- placed Oakleigh Cannons hosts surprise league leaders Avondale FC. Last week the Cannons were fortunate to come away from the Sharks with a scoreless draw thanks in no small part to the heroics of keeper John Honos and central defender Aaron Wilford. They host an Avondale side which has yet to concede a goal this season. NPL 2 Round 5 action today sees another Greek derby at John Cain Reserve following last week's thrilling injury time 2-1 win by Northcote City over Brunswick City. This week league leader Northcote City hosts undefeated Box Hill United which has drawn all four games this season. At least it broke its goal drought last week, scoring for the first time this season in a 1-1 home draw against Dandenong Thunder. Brunswick City will be hoping to bounce back from its dramatic loss away to Northcote last week, when it travels to Nunawading City today. Victory signs Theoharous on a scholarship deal leave videos and messages on George's personal page. "He was full of energy, always smiling, always happy and a really hard-working and good young man," president of Adelaide Olympic Football Club and close friend of the family Stavros Parissos told Neos Kosmos. "May you rest in peace levendi." West Adelaide Hellas Soccer Club also posted tributes online: "The West Adelaide Soccer Club family joins the long list of members of the football community to convey our sincere condolences to the family following the tragic death of your son, George. May you find the courage and strength to move forward at this difficult time and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers." "Life is an exciting journey but it can change in an instant. I still can't believe that the one minute we are hanging out, laugh and talk about our motorbikes and the next minute something happens and you are gone forever. Life isn't always fair. Kalo taxithi file mou," wrote one of George's closest friends, who was with him on the night. Greek Australian State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis also expressed his condolences. "God rest him and comfort all those who loved him and knew him," he wrote. In an official announcement, Football Federation South Australia extended its sympathy and thoughts following the sad passing of George, or ‘Hatzi’, describing him as "a talented and respected player who had been previously registered with Adelaide Olympic Football Club and Adelaide Raiders and was part of Adelaide Comet's 2012 Federation Cup winning side". The federation also postponed the Women's National Premier League Round 1 Fixture between Adelaide City and Fulham United out of respect, as father Michael Hatzipanagiotis is also the assistant coach at Adelaide City Women's Football Club. The funeral details are yet to be finalised. Neos Kosmos would like to express its condolences to father Michael, mother Helen and younger brother Christos for the tragic loss of their son and brother. At a time when many have urged the expansion of the A-League to open up more career opportunities for talented young Australian footballers, one young forward has received a great boost in his bid to make it as a professional in the A-League. Melbourne Victory announced earlier this week the signing of 17-year-old Christian Theoharous as a scholarship player, which means he'll not only train as part of the senior squad but will be eligible to play for the senior team if selected. Theoharous has been on Victory coach Kevin Muscat's radar for a couple of seasons now, having played for Victory's NPL youth team. He even impressed the coach enough to earn selection last July for the Melbourne Victory team that played a touring Atletico Madrid side in a preseason friendly down at Geelong. Speaking on the A-League website, Theoharous commented on what signing the scholarship meant for him: Seventeen-year-old forward Theoharous is hoping to get a few more minutes with the seniors. PHOTO: A-LEAGUE.COM "It's a great opportunity to play for the best club in Australia obviously. I'm grateful and thankful to the staff and especially Kevin Muscat for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. "There's some of the best players in the league and they all encourage me and I'm developing really well … Hopefully we can finish the season strongly, train really hard, keep developing and obviously get a few more minutes under my belt." The announcement follows a recent contract extension to young winger Jai Ingham, and also weekend speculation surrounding the veteran Ben El Khalfalla's future at the club. Speculation is that he may have played his last game at the club.
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