Midfield enforcer Nicholas Kokolakis put pen to paper on a new deal to stay at Box Hill United for the 2019 NPL2 season, and said he was excited to be a part of the set-up once more.
This is Kokolakis’ third spell at Wembley Park, having previously played here between 2011 and 2014, and briefly in 2017. Last season, the 27-year-old contributed significantly to United’s gutsy fight for NPL2 safety.
Looking forward to 2019, he said, “It’s a club where I have played a lot my senior career at. I felt wanted again for the upcoming season by [head coach] Con [Karagiannidis], which is nice. I am comfortable here and want to play well and have a big year next season.
“Last couple of years for me have been a bit stop-start, so I am excited to have a full pre-season under my belt going into the season. I know if I can get my body right, and come through pre-season into the season strong, I can have a big year.”
Kokolakis has a wealth of NPL experience, having featured for Northcote City and Richmond SC, and was part of the Box Hill side tilting towards promotion in 2014. But they ultimately finished third.
Looking back at the 2014 campaign, he said, “It was quite disheartening. We were in the top-two places for the majority of the year. But we stumbled towards the end, lost a couple of close games and could not recover. A lot of the players decided to move on the following season.”
However, Kokolakis is optimistic, and said, “But that’s in the past now. With the boys that we have re-signed, we have got a good core at the moment and we can build on that. We have to believe that we can compete with anyone.
“Box Hill have always had the reputation of being a strong NPL2 club, on the verge of fighting for promotion. That’s where we need to be again next year. How do we do that? If everyone buys into the approach of working hard and enjoying our football, and with the new coaching staff, I am confident that we will be able to finish higher than we finished last year.”
Reflecting on his role as one of the senior members of the core group, the former Oakleigh Cannons youth player said, “My playing style on the field is to be one of a leader, and that comes to me naturally. We have got a fantastic captain in Del (Adrian del Monaco). I’d love to potentially assist him in any way possible. If we can drive forward some high standards during training, hopefully it pays off.”