Interview with David Perkovic

Last week we were able to have a little chat with Perko about his current role with NWS Spirit, the possible season ahead and future plans.

TCS: So how have you been personally during the shutdown? What have you been up to? Have you been keeping in contact with the club & the boys? Who’s got the toilet paper juggling record?

Perko: Obviously it been a major adjustment, having life without football is very strange, however if their was a good time to have forced leave from the game, now has been perfect for me as my wife and I have a 10 week old baby, Ava. So being home and having a chance to create a great bond with her and spending more time with our eldest daughter Eve as well helping my wife Cassandra more than I usually can is nice.

We have had a zoom conference with the Team having chance to connect with the lads and giving them some time for some banter was beneficial. Our head of performance Hugo Da Silva has been monitoring the players through GPS and Smartabase, which is an athlete data management program. Hugo provide reports to me on how the lads are training.

I also call one player everyday to touch base to see how they are not just for football purposes but adjusting to life we know it now. The lads put a great video together for the toilet paper challenge after our 13s team put together a solid effort.

TCS: Before the shutdown we spoke to Nikola Pozder from BWE about who he saw as BWE’s main rivals this season & he mentioned your club Spirit. What was the goal going into this season? Another finals push? Promotion?

Perko: I suppose it’s an old cliche but we were taking every game as it comes. Our biggest challenge was competing against ourselves, our aim was to make sure with every performance we were growing as a squad, if we were able to achieve that then we were confident that results will look after themselves and therefore we could challenge for honours.

TCS: You had a very respectable season last year where it took a worldie from Mounties in the dying minutes to put your season to bed. Was there a bit of should have would have could have? And looking to avenge that this year or was it a completely new slate this year?

Perko: Finals football is like that and whilst it would have been really nice and exciting go further in the finals series, I’m a little more traditional in that I value more where you finish at the end of the regular season more. We have had the opportunity to reflect and improve our processes and we were confident that would have been noticeable this season.

TCS: There’s been lots of talk recently about the shutdown being a chance for football in Australia to kick-start itself again after a few years of stagnation. Do you foresee any changes or have any suggestions for what can be done at NPL level?

Perko: I hope there are some changes, as you stated, football has been stagnant for a few years. I’m not a football administrator so to know what is possible I’m not sure; however from a purely footballing perspective I would like to see promotion relegation introduced sooner rather than later.

The FNSW NPL competition introducing a playoff between 2nd last of a higher league against 2nd place of the lower league is fantastic, having a game to decide where the club is playing their football the following season is exciting. I would imagine that game would be sellout and also closely watched online.

TCS: Yes, that’s something we were actually going to build on in our next question. What were your thoughts given how 2020 was supposed to be a year of change in the NSW NPL with as you said a pro-rel playoff but also the CC being removed?

Perko: Well, we are more in line with other leagues in the world. I don’t know if any league in the world where promotion relegation is based on club championship. I think I understand why it was introduced and it may have served a purpose but in my opinion it was time to be more aligned with other footballing nations.

I personally would have preferred to stay with 14 teams or even increased to 16 teams. We don’t have enough games as it is to produce footballers and reducing the number of games was disappointing. The positive though was to add another chance of promotion in the competitions with the introduction of the playoff.

TCS: You’ve had some experience immersing yourself in football cultures around the world, in a coaching sense what’s the main difference between Australia & the rest of the world?

Perko: There are many people in Australian football that have had more opportunities to view football globally than me. I have been lucky to see some of the best football environments in Spain and have been blessed to coach professionally abroad in the Philippines.

What I have learnt is we need to embrace our strengths and develop our weaknesses but the biggest difference for me is we don’t play enough. Teaching kids is a vital part of development but the best teacher is the game itself and the more you play the game, the more you learn.

TCS: Lots of positivity at the moment with talks of grassroots coming back & even the HAL aiming for an Aug 1 re-start, Can you see the NPL getting a season this year?

Perko: If A-League and grassroots comes back, NPL has to also. For the continued development of elite footballers, we need to play. I understand there can be some challenges in getting the NPL back up and running e.g. if the season finishes later, field allocation with summer sport, and/or financial challenges with sponsors may wanting to pull out or postpone support given the economical challenges for businesses, and many more to list. We need to find solutions to recommence the league.

Players having a season off has huge implications on their development. Coaching staff will have to treat each player as though they are coming off a serious injury. Imagine an aspiring player having a year off due to COVID19 and then coming back and doing their ACL, that’s two seasons gone and potential their profession in the game. I remain hopeful that the NPL can have some sort of season in 2020.

TCS: And finally; you’re still a young man in coaching terms, where do you see yourself going forward? Is it an NPL 1 job? Is it working in the HAL? Overseas?

Perko: I am very grateful to have my role at NWS Spirit FC as first grade coach and senior technical director. The club is by far the most professional club I have been a part of. We have excellent facilities, sport science department headed by Dr Craig Duncan including the use of gps and athlete monitoring programs, access to sport psychologists, and we have introduced this season the use of an analyst.

All these departments feature in professional clubs. It allows me to develop my skills in what I require and what is possible from those departments to get the best out of me and therefore get the best out of the players. We are all positive that this will reflect in the results which hopefully lead to promotion to NPL1 in the future. I feel I am in the best environment available to prepare me for professional football which is my personal ultimate goal.

TCS: Thanks for your time coach!

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