Turning his back to the blazing 40 degree heat, Carlos Villazon wipes the sweat from his brow as he tirelessly sets up training instruments for his Sutherland Sharks as they are put their paces for pre-season training.
As we begin our conversation, there is a word that constantly gets repeated by the head coach: "passion".
Very soon it’s no surprise that passion is something that Carlos Villazon has a lot of, and football is the number one beneficiary.
"I have so much passion for football, it’s my life. My wife gets upset at me because all I ever do is watch football! La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga, I love it all! Every single weekend I’m curled up in front of the TV surrounded by football, its great isn’t it? I played professionally in Chile for close to 10 years and even now as a coach my love for the game hasn’t waned".
Villazon was an uncompromising left and right back who played over 300 games in Chile for Union Espanola, Ranger, Magallanes and Naval.
He was also selected in the 1982 World Cup train on squad and later made his only appearance for the Chile national team in what he describes as an "amazing experience". Something that Villazon hopes can transfer from Chile to Australia is the passion his homeland has for the game that is lacking in Australia.
"In Chile we have players playing in the 3rd division who are not paid, yet travel several hours on a plane for games each week and train every single night, I want that kind of commitment in Australia as in the future I hope the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 1 competition can be a 2nd division league. The game has come so far in the last 10 years, it’s great to see".
One of the biggest challenges for Villazon and the Sharks this season will be the Chilean adapting to life as a head coach. He has spent the last 6 years as an assistant and was particularly hands on last season when the Sharks finished a disappointing tenth place.
"The big challenge for me is getting the playing group which has many young players playing a football style that works for the club. Obviously being a first year coach makes things difficult, however we have confidence that we can turn things around".
One thing that Villazon and the Sharks have in their favour is his vast experience.
His 6 years of assistant coaching is invaluable for the Sharks which is sure to help them improve on a 10th place finish in which injuries and poor form curtailed any hopes of the Sharks having a successful season.
Despite last year’s struggles the confidence is high within the Sharks camp as a new batch of new, young players and returning injured players, littered with some experience sees the Sharks with a well-balanced squad for 2016.
One thing that Villazon expects of his players is passion and commitment "the one thing I want from my players and something that I drill into them from day one is passion and commitment- if we have that then I think we can go a long way.
However it’s not just the players that Coach Villazon wants passion and commitment from.
"We need the fans to have Seymour Shaw rocking and to encourage the players on match day. We want to continue to grow the game in the Sutherland Shire and what better way than to support the Sharks". If the fans can get on board the Sharks train in 2016 then the sky could be the limit for this young Sharks squad that has one of the most passionate coaches in the league.
Get behind the Sutherland Sharks in 2016 and see the South American flavour come on match day!
-Article by Jack Clifton (Sutherland Sharks)