By Sean Glanville – Williams Lake Tribune
Published: July 15, 2008 8:00 AM
Saibo Talic puts the players through their paces during the EFS camp at Esler last week.
Sean Glanville photo
Saibo Talic brought his European Football School (EFS) to the lakecity for the fifth straight year last week. The five-day camp featured some of the top local youth soccer players from ages 7-19 and attracted players from 100 Mile House as well.
Talic and an assistant ran the camp July 7-11 at the Esler Soccer Complex.
â€œI always enjoy coming to Williams Lake. The players have a very good work ethic and decent skills,â€ Talic says.
â€œMy job is to work on the technical part of their game. I give a lot of credit to the players and their parents; itâ€™s not easy getting them to the fields early in the morning during their summer holidays.â€
Talic puts an emphasis on skill development for his camps and believes a major problem with Canadian youth is that they are not taught the fundamentals of gymnastics in school â€” a sport Europeans are taught in their school curriculum.
â€œSkills are the No. 1 thing we try to teach the players. The problem in Canada is the kids are not taught gymnastics in school. Gymnastics is critical to coordination, balance, flexibility and agility. All these aspects are used in soccer from passing and receiving to movement of your upper and lower body,â€ Talic says.
Talic was in Kamloops during last yearâ€™s EFS camp but was back in lakecity for a fourth time last week. He was impressed with the talent of the Williams Lake players.
â€œIâ€™m always impressed with the quality of players from Williams Lake,â€ Talic says.
â€œOut of every group of 15 kids there are usually about 10-12 decent players that could move on to a higher level.â€
Talic holds his Canadian license A and UEFA license B coaching tickets. He was born in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia) and played professionally there from 1969-1981 before moving on to coaching. He coached PC Podgrmec of the Yugoslavian Div. 1 from 1982-1992.
He moved to Vancouver in 1993 where he coached Croatia SC to Pacific Coast League and Premier League titles in 1993 and 1994. He had a three year stint (95-97) coaching the Capilano College menâ€™s team, which won a national title in 1996. He moved back to Bosnia in 1997 to coach before returning to B.C. to start the EFS in 2000.
Since the EFSâ€™s inception eight years ago, Talicâ€™s teams have travelled abroad 15 times. His boys and girls teams have amassed a 87-36-13 win-loss-tie record over that span. He has coached some of the top players in the country including current national team assistant coach Nick Dasovic, former Whitecap Johnny Sulentic and Daniel Fernandes of VfL Bochum in Germany.
Williams Lake soccer player Laura Smylie traveled with Talic on his most recent European tour in May. Talic is impressed with Smylie and sees her developing into an elite player.
â€œSheâ€™s a great athlete; she has a great shot, strong on the ball and a powerful dribbler,â€ Talic says.
â€œIâ€™m trying to get her to be more calm and slow down a bit and see the field better.â€
Talic hopes Canadian soccer players can develop more imagination and creativity into their game.
â€œIn Canada there is a quantity of soccer players but the problem is there is not enough quality coaching. Canadian players have the desire, speed.Theyâ€™re physical and not afraid of contact but they lack skill and imagination,â€ Talic says.
â€œYou need to be unpredictable on the field and Canadian and U.S. teams are often so predictable.â€
Talic will make another interior trip in August to run camps in Kamloops and Williams Lake.