Nanaimo United will bring a little different brand of soccer to the pitch this season.
The city’s Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 team opens the regular season Saturday (Sept. 8) with a home game against Saltspring FC.
United is uniting under a new coach for 2012-13 as John Valentim takes over the role.
“John’s doing a great job, I’m so happy he’s there,” said Allan Jorgensen, club manager. “He’s got so much knowledge and experience and passion and he brings it out there.”
Valentim wishes he had more than just a couple practices a week to work with his charges, but is happy with how they’re adapting so far this summer as he introduces some of his Brazilian soccer methods.
“I like the ball to do the work, not the players run with the ball. That’s my focus,” he said. “Ball possession, good passing, strategy, movements in the attack, movements in the defence.”
He’ll ask players to create offence with rapid ball movement and precise passes.
“I want to see those give-and-go passes,” Valentim said. “Short passes and finish.”
Veteran striker Thomas Anderson and centre midfielder Tony Maestrello will be two of the players counted on for goal scoring. Andrew Adams is another key player in the midfield and Graham Davidson will play midfield and defence.
Scott Newlands and Mike Greenaway will be the stalwarts on the back line. Simon Ruperto takes over as goalkeeper this season.
“What I see so far with Nanaimo United is incredible talent,” Valentim said. “We’re going to start the season with good quality players and there is a few more that will come a little bit later that will boost up the team a little bit higher.”
So he goes into a new season with high hopes.
“Our goal from all the players is to compete in a high level and see if we achieve a championship,” he said.
SOCCER TALK … United and Saltspring play Saturday at Beban Park’s Merle Logan Field at 5 p.m. Admission is free … United decided last week it will not enter a side in the VISL’s U21 division this season. Jorgensen said United could have fielded a strong U21 team, but would then have had insufficient players for a Div. 2 men’s team. “We didn’t want to scrap Div. 2 because we would have to start all over in Div. 4 [in 2013-14],” he said. “And a lot of guys, this is their last year in U21. That means [next season] they would either have to play Div. 4 or Div. 1 so if they couldn’t make Div. 1 they’d have to start all the way down in Div. 4.”