Ser­gio Afric back with Sirens

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Domenic Aquilina

Sirens ASC re­cently an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of none other than for­mer Malta Na­tional Wa­ter Polo Team coach Ser­gio Afric for the com­ing two years. Afric is quite a pop­u­lar face in the lo­cal wa­ter polo scene hav­ing been at the helm of the Malta Na­tional Team from 2008 to 2012. Over his four-year term, Malta man­aged to progress from the qual­i­fi­ca­tion stages of the Eu­ro­pean B Cham­pi­onsip (2008) to a de­cider match against Ger­many in 2011 for the qual­i­fi­ca­tion stages of the Eu­ro­pean A Cham­pi­onship. As a re­sult of this Malta moved up the Eu­ro­pean Wa­ter Polo rank­ings to com­pete in the Eu­ro­pean B Cham­pi­onship. In 2009 he also set up the first ever Malta Na­tional Wa­ter Polo squad for Un­der 14s. At club coach­ing level, the 56year-old Croa­t­ian born bear­ing an Ital­ian cit­i­zen­ship can be seen as a colos­sus in his field. He has man­aged a host of Ital­ian wa­ter polo sides – Volturno, Caserta, Te­li­mar Palermo and Nuoto Cata­nia amongst th­ese. Afric’s first ex­pe­ri­ence in Malta was in 1995 when he went on to achieve the cov­eted dou­ble with an un­de­feated San Gil­jan side. He then went on to coach Nep­tunes from 1996 to 1998. In 1999 he joined his ac­tual club Sirens ASC. That same year, the Croa­t­ian coach soon guided the St. Paul’s Bay club to a Knock Out com­pe­ti­tion tri­umph. A year later Sirens ASC won both the Knock Out Com­pe­ti­tion and their first Premier Divi­sion League ti­tle after 33 years. Back with Nep­tunes in 2005 till 2008 man­ag­ing to win four con­sec­u­tive Premier Divi­sion League ti­tles and two Knock Out tro­phies. In 2009 Afric was snapped up by Sliema, whom he helped to win the Premier Divi­sion League ti­tle in 2009 and twice the Knock Out Com­pe­ti­tion. As a player Ser­gio Afric starred form Pri­morie Ri­jeka in the for­mer Yu­goslavia First divi­sion from 1976 to 1986 play­ing 85 times for The Malta In­de­pen­dent Sports Team met up with Afric dur­ing one of his re­cent train­ing ses­sions at the Na­tional Pool in Tal-Qroqq. We asked him the rea­sons be­hind his de­ci­sion to re­turn back to Malta and this is what he had to say “The rea­son of my re­turn to Sirens is very sim­ple. I be­lieve that this is a club where many young play­ers can flour­ish and get bet­ter in a brief pe­riod of time and com­pete for the Premier League ti­tle in Malta. I love chal­lenges and my first ob­jec­tive is that of win­ning the Premier League ti­tle with this club” “My main ob­jec­tive though is that of su­per­vis­ing within all the youth sec­tors of the club apart from that of the se­nior side. Ob­jec­tive? That of cre­at­ing a solid base for the even­tual his coun­try Yu­goslavia. se­lec­tion of young promis­ing up­com­ing play­ers to be drafted into the se­nior side, and mak­ing Sirens one of the top wa­ter polo sides on the is­land” Sirens ASC Pres­i­dent Dr. Carmel Vella also spoke about his club’s in­vest­ment in pro­fes­sional coach­ing for a num­ber of years both at nurs­ery level and within the se­nior side. “I can con­firm that this pro­fes­sional ap­proach shall be a con­tin­u­a­tion in the com­ing years with the hope of get­ting the club back in con­tention in the Cham­pi­onship Pool and even­tu­ally win­ning the hon­ours. Afric has had a long spell in Malta and this is pre­cisely why my club has de­cided to get him on board linked with our ob­jec­tives. Afric is well aware of the lo­cal ap­proach and men­tal­ity to wa­ter polo in Malta. Un­for­tu­nately, train­ing ses­sions are lim­ited both in time and avail­abil­ity hin­der­ing the progress of the lo­cal game and clubs not mak­ing full use of their coach­ing ca­pac­ity” stated Dr. Vella

Mi­lakovic also with Sirens

Dr. Vella also con­firmed the ap­point­ment of of De­jan Mi­lakovic as the Club’s Wa­ter Polo Nurs­ery Head Coach also for the next two years. Mi­lakovic will be re­spon­si­ble for the club’s ju­nior team within the am­bit of a strate­gic plan that is ex­pected to guar­an­tee a tech­ni­cally solid, sus­tain­able and suc­ces­ful fu­ture for the club. The 34-year-old Bel­grade born coach will be tak­ing over the train­ing pro­grams after the nec­es­sary con­sul­ta­tions with the Club’s Head Coach Ser­gio Afric him­self.

Ser­gio Afric re­turned to Malta for his sec­ond stint with Sirens Photo: AP

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