Sports

United soccer gets shakeup

Changes are sweeping over Nanaimo’s soccer pitches.

The Nanaimo United soccer club is making some major personnel moves this off-season from the top down.

Frank Klemencic has stepped down as club manager, replaced by Allan Jorgensen, and Bill Merriman won’t be returning as Div. 1 coach.

Klemencic had advised the club a year ago that 2010-11 would be his last at the helm.

When Klemencic took over the position after the 2005-06 season, United had men’s teams in Div. 2 and Div. 4. Now there are men’s sides in Div. 1, 2, 3, 4 and at the U21 level, and the club has also forged partnerships with masters and ladies teams.

“I think I accomplished a couple of things I wanted to accomplish,” Klemencic said. “One of them was turning the whole vibe of the club around.”

Merriman said Klemencic has done an “unbelievable job” leading United.

“That’s why I came on as a coach, because of Frank and his vision of what he saw for Nanaimo United.”

As for Merriman himself, the coach said the main reason he’s stepping down is because he hasn’t been able to give the team his full attention while coaching the Vancouver Island University Mariners during September and October each year.

“The team definitely, after those two months, becomes stronger and does well, but myself as a coach feels bad that I can’t dedicate my time for those first two months,” he said.

Merriman also has a new project on his plate this spring and summer as technical director of the Highlanders Mid Isle FC club in Ladysmith.

He said he may continue to have involvement with United at some level, and will definitely encourage his VIU Mariners to play for United over the winter months.

Filling vacant coaching and team manager positions will be some of Jorgensen’s first tasks. Over the long term, the new manager’s goals include expanding partnerships with U18 metro teams, and trying to get United onto local TV sports highlights.

“Al’s a pretty intense soccer guy and I know he’ll put his heart and soul into this,” Klemencic said.

The ex-manager said he’s optimistic about the outlook for soccer in the city, and said he’ll be around to watch.

“I’m a big fan,” Klemencic said. “I’ll probably be a little louder than [I was] allowed to be on the sidelines.”

SOCCER TALK … To read a related article, please click here … For information about coaching or managing United teams, e-mail aljorgensen@shaw.ca.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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