Soccer has been his life since growing up in Hegothi, Serbia. He chased the dream of playing professional soccer in a number of countries as a keeper, but when a dislocated shoulder put a damper on his playing career he wanted to spread his knowledge to young boys and girls in a coaching capacity.
Coaching is what brought the 41-year-old father of two girls to Corner Brook. He served as a coach in the Corner Brook Minor Soccer Association for a brief three-month in his first journey to his new world six years ago and then spent the next four working here for seven months while his wife Nada and daughters Ivana and Jovana fended for themselves back in Serbia.
The family was reunited 11 months ago when dad decided it was time for everybody to be in one place again.
Working with the local soccer community and sharing the same vision for the game with technical director Doug Sweetapple formed a partnership that he’s embraced and the smile on his face will tell you he’s a contented soul in his new surroundings.
“I bring my passion, energy and quantitative of work, and I think guys appreciate it,” he said earlier this week.
His plan for the future is stay connected with the community and make a great home for his family, but it’s no secret that his favourite place to be is the soccer pitch surrounded by young players who want to learn the game.
He wants to provide a good learning environment so players can hone their skills and have fun doing so. Getting them to reach their full potential is a challenge he welcomes. He also wants them to learn valuable lessons about life to help them find success outside the field of play.
“Build better players and better people,” he said of his mindset as a coach.
He believes soccer is growing in the city and pockets of the west coast and that’s something he takes pride in since moving to the city. He likes seeing his passion and energy for helping players learn the game pay dividends with the development of some pretty good players over the past five years, particularly a handful of quality keepers that have been rising stars in the sport on the local and provincial scene.
“I think there’s nothing better than teaching kids,” he said. “I’m happy when I see kids progress.”
Moving around from place to place isn’t anything new to him, but he admits it took a lot of work to finally have his family under one roof.
Like his children and wife, he has enjoyed life in the city and appreciates the kindness of those who have helped them get settled into a new culture and a way of life so different than what they had in Serbia.
He doesn’t take anything for granted in life so he appreciates the opportunity to live in a friendly place where his family can chase their own dreams and discover new and exciting things about the unique culture that awaits them.
“This is a big step for me to come here and bring my family,” he said. “I like Serbia, but now this is like home to me.”