NURIOOTPA Hockey Club’s games record-holder, Brian Ivkovic, will coach the club’s A-Women side for the 2018 Barossa Valley hockey season.
The 59-year-old, who has played over 450 games for Nuri, has previously guided the club’s A-Men side to multiple premierships, including the first in its run of 10 (from 2003-12).
However, after years of involvement with the B-Men side, Ivkovic said he’s excited to take on the challenge of leading the A-Women.
“I’ve usually looked after the guys, and that’s been wonderful and I’ve probably done everything I’ve needed to do with them,” he said.
“The past few years I’ve been coasting along, and now it’s time to put some energy back in and help build, where it’s needed.”
Despite only taking the job before Christmas, Ivkovic has already identified how the side can improve.
“The first thing is to develop a stronger unity within the group,” he said.
“There seems to be a few groups that are close together; the younger group, the midrange and the older girls.
“They each don’t seem to interact with each other.
“That’s understandable, but for a team to be stronger and united, I want them all to be at the same level as far as feeling comfortable with each other.
“We’ve got to break down those barriers.”
He also pointed out some on-field areas to work on.
“We need to work on a couple of key elements; our ball-holding and distribution has been poor, I believe, and we need to work on that so we have more control,” Ivkovic said.
“The strength over the ball, the girls, I don’t think, have the ability to hold the ball very well at the moment, and when they feel threatened they cough it up pretty easily, so I’m going to try to help that.”
The new coach added he’d be placing a strong emphasis on being a “team”.
“There’s no standouts and anyone that tries to stick their head up, all that they’ll be doing is setting a bar for the others to move to,” Ivkovic said.
“There won’t be any special treatment, no girls sitting on the sideline waiting to get a run, there’s going to be a squad and we’re going to rotate that squad as one group.
“Everyone’s going to get a fair go, even new players.”
Nuri’s A-Women won only five games in 2017, but Ivkovic hasn’t set a target for 2018.
“I haven’t set any expectations apart from seeing everyone improving their basic skills and becoming tighter (as a group),” he said.
“If I achieve that, and the girls become better and more united as a group, then year one I’ll be happy with.”
Nuriootpa’s A-Men coaching position has also changed hands, with state country representative David McInerney taking over from Marty Gallasch.