Q&A with Michael Zakoski
Introducing Michael Zakoski, an applied economics student, traffic scheduler at Prime7, and retired professional football player in Spain and Italy.
He’s currently taking on a new challenge finding and cultivating young football talent in the Canberra and Queanbeyan communities to help other young hopefuls of the game achieve the same success that he’s known. He goes on to speak about the work that he does and what kind of difference he is making for his players.
How long have you been playing soccer for?
I’ve played football for as long as I can remember, having started out in the grassroots programs of Queanbeyan’s Monaro Panthers. As time progressed, I was fortunate enough to establish a connection with Canberra FC, who at the time were renowned for their consecutive league championships in the A.C.T competition. Throughout subsequent years, I progressed through the respective divisions and age groups, and with that, I was rewarded with the position to represent numerous teams as the club captain.
Where did you play and who did you play for in Europe?
In my most recent years, I was fortunate to play as part of the youth setup at Malaga C.F in the Southern Cast of Spain. In my time as part of the U19’s at Malaga, I experienced matches against some of the country’s biggest clubs, including Real Betis, Seville and Almeria, who were all located in Andalusia. In the later periods of my time in Europa, I was transferred to Italy,where I was invited to play my football in Northern Italy, among clubs in Genoa.
Why did you decide to scout talent over playing? When did you decide?
Upon returning to Australia, I found myself in a situation by which I was unable to further my playing career and decided to consider other options, which would allow me to maintain involvement in the sport in a different capacity. This realisation happened almost 6 months after returning to Australia. Working in a different capacity to that of what I was accustomed to allow me to develop a passion towards sharing the wealth of knowledge which I had absorbed in my time as a professional in Europe.
What are you currently working on with your players?
At the minute, we analyse and apply fundamentals which can be covered through four essential cornerstones of the sport, physical, social, tactical and technical components. Within such cornerstones, we are able to define strengths and weaknesses and furthermore, define the characteristics of the player involved – their work ethic, motivations and deeper underlying factors which pertain to their understanding of the game, their unconsciously conscious state of mind.
What is involved in the work that you do?
Primarily, my company aims to assess players as per the aforementioned criteria. We further our developments of an individual by understanding their aspirations and providing them with realistic targets to measure their success and improvements. We’ve recently had much success in developing a local player to a point by which they were offered an opportunity to trial with clubs in the capital of world football, Madrid. In the coming months, we expect to hear some positive news with regards to the trials. We are also currently working with two local players in the Canberra region, both of which play as part of the Canberra FC setup of 2018. Both players have shown a lot of promising signs in the early rounds of this year’s season and have been asked to travel to Sydney as part of a trial process with Blacktown City.
Where do you want to be with this in the next 5 years?
I hope to have completed my degree and achieved financial security of my business in Europe. In addition to this, there are a few licenses which I aim to complete prior to returning to Europe.
How has your experience overseas helped you in what you are doing currently/why does this give you an edge?
My time in Europe has allowed me to gain first-hand experience with clubs and academies who offer football at a professional level, and at a standard which is not yet evident in the Australian competition at neither local or national level. Such an experience with professional establishments allows for an improved measure of thinking in a variation of situations.