Former Bulleen Lions coach Dom Barba has signaled youth development and club stability as two of his key targets ahead of his maiden NPL Victoria campaign with his new side Port Melbourne Sharks.
The JL Murphy Reserve based club had been coach-less since mutually parting ways with former coach Eric Vassiliadis in September.
Barba, who took Bulleen Lions back to the top flight after finishing top of the NPL 2 West conference in 2015, will inherit a squad that started with a bang in 2016, only to see performances fade as the year progressed.
Barba explained that finding a balance between senior success and youth development will be a key objective during his tenure at the bay-side club.
“The Port opportunity is an opportunity where a club, who is probably sitting in a similar position to Bulleen, they needed someone with the experience that I had, to be able to merge the two worlds of youth team development and senior development,” Barba told MFootball.
“We need to merge those two worlds so the club is able to foster a lot of talent through their youth programs so that they can make it financially viable to be in the NPL, rather than go buy teams ever year.”
“With that, my management style and my significant experience working with youth and my ability to get success at senior level they thought it was a really good mix.
“I actually think it’s a really good opportunity for someone to embrace what I do best and be more liberal in being able to apply that.”
Port Melbourne made a solid start to its 2016 NPL Victoria campaign, however a late season slump saw it flirt dangerously close to relegation, ultimately finishing in 10th on the ladder with seven wins for the season.
Ahead of taking over the squad for pre-season which begins in just over a month, Barba paid tribute Port’s former boss Eric Vassiliadis and also signaled his intent to both improve on and develop the existing talent at the club.
“You have got to take your hat off to Eric (Vassiliadis),” Barba said.
“Eric was there for seven years, Eric had them mid-table around about the top four and so there is definite quality within this group and I want to be able to explore that a little bit further.”
“Certainly every team probably needs a freshener up, I guess I’m a new voice and a new personality and might be able to get more out of players, or get something different out of players.”
Barba, who is all too familiar with the cut and thrust of NPL Victoria football after guiding his former side to safety on a dramatic final day of the 2016 season, has his eyes firmly set on sustainable success at Port Melbourne which he believes will be based around the strengthening of its youth development pathways.
“You can’t have short term thinking on long term plans and you can’t have long term thinking on short term planning, so it’s just about finding that balance at the same time,” Barba explained.
“There is a great crew down at Port Melbourne that will assist in making sure that the foundations underneath the senior team are just ticking away nicely; and it’s my obligation to identify players and give them an opportunity, not only to train, but to experience pre-season with the seniors and play practice matches.”
“We throw them in the deep end and not to to have a (negative) impact on their confidence, but to only enhance their confidence.
“Then you will see, through that, that we will be able to unearth players like we did at Bulleen, and all of a sudden an unknown player becomes someone of interest.”