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Jasko Begovioc coaches his team

Oiler coaches assess talent at soccer jamboree

on November 18, 2012

The morning squall drenched the Richmond Oiler and Pinole Valley Spartan players as they warmed up for the first game of the West Contra Costa Unified School District soccer jamboree. Both teams were playing their first of five games on the day, and already their jerseys, pants and socks were soaked – but that didn’t slow them down.

Just before the first whistle, the rain began to subside, turning into a light mist. The referees, dressed in bright yellow-striped shirts, braved the weather in shorts.

As the game began, the Oilers’ co-head coaches Jasko Begovic and Rene Siles surveyed the field. Although it was just a scrimmage, Begovic and Siles, escaping the cold and rain in their hooded parkas, were engaged in directing their players on the field, and advising them off it.

In addition to the 11 players on the field, a dozen or so stood on the sidelines waiting for a chance to get into the game.

Last week, the Oilers had tryouts for 100-150 participants, Begovic said. After one round of cuts to get the roster for the varsity squad to approximately 35 players, the coaches will now trim it to 25.

The jamboree was an opportunity for both Siles and Begovic to evaluate talent for the varsity and junior varsity squads, to give the players a chance to try different positions, and to work on implementing a Richmond style of soccer.

“The goal is basically to have a culture of a team,” Begovic said. “Some players might be very good individually but are they going to put their egos aside and play for the team and try to achieve something bigger than themselves?”

Each of the six high school teams involved in the jamboree was slated to play five 25-minute scrimmages. The first match between the Oilers and the Spartans ended in a tie. The players and coaches walked off the field, searching for the dry locker room.

Less than and hour later, the Oilers returned to the field to take on DeAnza. This time, the junior varsity players were representing the Richmond team.

With so many players trying out for both teams, Begovic planned on having the varsity team play three games on Saturday with the junior varsity players playing two.

Twenty minutes before the start of the second game, Begovic led the players through an array of agility drills. Running in place then exploding forward, trying to mimic the quick movements necessary to react to a quick change of pace in the game. The players then transitioned to a drill of running backwards, shuffling to the side, and then jumping up in the air with a partner, simulating the one-on-one header battles that occur throughout the game. Finally, Begovic instructed his players to work on ball control. They were lined in groups of two, tossing the ball, flicking it off the top of their laces.

The workout was a chance to evaluate his young players, and also give them hands-on attention.

“We have a very good JV group,” Begovic said. “It is probably one of the best I have seen since the last four years I have been here.”

With only a few weeks before the season starts, Begovic knows he is in a good situation. With so many players to choose from, selecting only 25 players for his roster won’t be easy.

“It is a problem,” he said. “But it is a good problem to have.”

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