Saibo Talic, head coach of the Vancouver-based European Football School, feels a special connection to Williams Lake.
That’s why when last week, in his 10th consecutive year bringing his soccer camp to the lakecity, Talic couldn’t help but to think back about how much the Williams Lake Youth Soccer Association has grown since he began. “Honestly, I am really attached with this city and with this association — all these years,” Talic said. “It’s been an honour and a pleasure to be in this town.”
Talic, along with four other coaches, ran the camp July 8-12 at the Esler Sports Soccer Complex, attracting some of the top local youth soccer players ages 7-19. And this year’s camp, with 95 players, was the biggest camp he’s held in Williams Lake yet.
In past years Talic has even taken along players from Williams Lake to tournaments in Europe and the U.S. with his European Football School teams.
“I’ve taken many players with me to those places, and when I see the development of the players here — these girls here, they won under-16 provincials for girls — this is great things for this community,” he said.
“North Shore (Vancouver) has 3,000 girls, and this association has maybe 500 — this is a great achievement (for Williams Lake) and I can see (soccer) growing in popularity and lots of good players.”
Talic holds is Canadian license A and UEFA license B coaching tickets. He was born in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia) and played professionally there from 1969-1981 before moving on to coaching. He coached PC Podgrmec of the Yugoslavian Div. 1 from 1982-1992 before moving to Vancouver in 1993 where he coached Croatia SC to Pacific Coast League and Premier League titles in 1993 and 1994. He had a three-year stint (1995-1999) coaching the Capilano College men’s team, which won a national title in 1996. He then moved back to Bosnia in 1997 to coach before returning to B.C. to start the EFS in 2000.
He now runs camps in Whistler, Williams Lake, Kamloops, Squamish, Pemberton and North Vancouver.
He said what sets his camp apart from other soccer camps is attention to learning skills and developing creativity.
“We really work on skills with the players — this is the number one thing,” he said. “Skills and unpredictable play of players, and imagination. These things take time, and are what we work on.”
He also tailors his sessions by age group.
“With the younger kids we spend more time with the ball,” he said. “We try, in one tour-hour session, to have 1,800 touches with the ball — that’s the average in Europe for the young kids. It’s to enjoy it, but to also work on co-ordination and agility.
“With the older kids we use lots of tactical strategy.”
Talic’s EFS camps continue throughout the summer. Next up, he’ll be at East Vancouver’s Trillium Turf Field, before going to Salmon Arm.