As Box Hill United’s U/19 girls undergo a rebuilding phase over the summer, head coach Stefanos Sakalis has highlighted the improving standards.
Sakalis is in his seventh season with Box Hill, and is now busy preparing his team for the rigours of a revamped eight-team 2020 NPLW U/19 competition. Under his tutelage, our reserve girls’ side finished sixth in the ladder last time out, only four points shy of a top-four spot.
Looking ahead to build positive momentum, Sakalis said, “It’s really good. I am very excited. We have some girls from last year – around seven or eight. We are trying to [set up] another team by bringing in more players, young players.
“I have some new players – I am trying to improve them, working hard. It’s still early, but I can see some improvements; and I think when we start pre-season [practice] in January, we’ll be even better.”
He added, “We try to play a 4-3-3 [formation] and focus on the practice of the players, so that we can make skilful players. We try to have effective possession if we can.
“Obviously, this will be a very tough competition because two teams – Southern United and Geelong Galaxy – they left [the NPLW senior structure]. So, all will be derbies and very hard. We need to train very well towards the start of the season."
Sakalis had also guided our U/16 girls to NPLW title glory in 2018, and led them to a bronze medal in the 2019 Gothia Cup in China.
In 2019, four players from Box Hill’s U/19 squad – Gabriella Eggleton, Laura Pickett, Erin Keyt and Melanie Martinez – were elevated to the senior women’s team, where they gave a good account of their abilities.
Eager to continue the progress of deserving young players to the senior set-up, Sakalis is already establishing the right pathway in discussion with senior women’s head coach Jorge Leon.
The 51-year-old experienced coach added, “We try to talk every day actually, we have a lot of meetings. We try to see if the players from the U/19s are good and at the right level, who he can take and give some time [with the seniors], so we can produce our [senior] players from our [reserves].”