Head Coach Karl Izzo has given an exclusive interview to the Club’s website.Karl spoke extensively and in detail about what is going on in the senior team and what is the technical strategy for the coming months and beyond.
How did you find the boys after the high intensity land training they went through in the previous months?
Unlike last year I decided to start swimming training only in January, bearing in mind the season is long and we would have ample time for swimming training till the end of season. I left the boys in the hands of qualified trainer Kieth Galea which took them for the months of October – December in very high intensity and specific training on land for Waterpolo players. I kept a watchful eye over the sessions and today I can say I am very satisified with the outcome. I found the boys in shape on our 1st training session last Monday and I am so convinced of the quality of the training Keith has given them in the past 3 months that I will be keeping a session or 2 of this training even through the winter months as a build up for both the winter and summer league. It is my wish to have professional staff working with me and Keith is a very professional , strict and dedicated trainer who will be helping me all throughout the season covering various aspects of training such as gymn work / gymn testing and players nutrition.
A short comment about new recruits Ryan Mock and Matthew Pisani?
They are 2 players I wanted personally to increase the potential of the team especially bearing in mind Waterpolo is a fast game with a lot of exclusions and the team must have a good squad of 13 players ready to play at any time of game to challenge for honours. I am sure they will be 2 very useful assets to my squad.
Ryan is a young player I have already coached previously and apart from being a strong centre which can help Karl (Galea) rest a bit more during games, he has a powerful accurate shot we can use in manup situations – Also he is a SAN GILJAN boy , hard worker and always ready to learn.
Matthew is a shrewd versatile player who I have in mind to deploy in different positions during the game. I worked with Matthew in the past and know only of few players who know the game of Waterpolo and is a quick thinker in delicate situations as much as him. Another plus is that everywhere Matthew played he has won honours and was always an important player in winning squads.
I am proud of having these 2 players working with me and playing with San Giljan.
What kind of training schedule is being carried out for the senior team in these months of preseason training?
Maltese Waterpolo is strange as we have 2 leagues in one season and I need to peak the players in different moments of the year. We are at present training 4 /5 times weekly and even though I will be focusing on swimming especially in early weeks I am giving a lot of importance to leg work training and ball exercises incorporated with tactical situations – I will also dedicate time in nearly every session for a training game between all players as I want to see junior players training with the first team gaining more experience by means of these practice games.
What are the improvements you would like to see in the team from last year?
Most important is that I want my boys to believe more in themselves and in the fact that we are as strong as the top 2 teams that have been dominating Waterpolo in Malta for past years. One weak point we had last year was our MAN UP and we will be working a lot on this – Also we tended to sometimes be less physically prepared than our competitors and didn’t manage to be strong till the end of game – Together with Keith we will be working on this too. Otherwise I will be trying to consolidate on what we started last year. I am expecting a big improvement and bigger participation with senior team from young players namely KAI DOWLING and JEAN CLAUDE CUTAJAR – Apart from these 2 players which I don’t consider as Junior players because firmly part of the senior squad , in winter I will be working and giving more chance to our younger upcoming home bred player Keith Galea . I am monitoring closely progress of other young promising players such as Andreas Galea , Anthony Bugeja , Matthew Fenech who train regularly with our 1st team squad.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I was quite happy with the results achieved last season even though I still cannot accept and explain the consecutive defeats we suffered after we had automatically qualified for play offs – I am definitely aiming for league championship this year. I am very happy with the squad of players at my disposal and only need one understudy goalkeeper to Dino to close off an already strong squad. We will in June finally welcome the re inclusion in our squad of Matthew Zammit , who will help our game both tactically and psychologically as Matthew’s presence is very important for us as he is one of the best Maltese Waterpolo player and has some answers he needs to deliver after this unfortunate experience – Regarding the foreigners I am not hurrying to make my final decisions as we have many valid options where to choose from.
As head coach of the Club how are you incorporating the junior sector with the senior team?
I have the youths very close to my heart and I am in constant contact with Junior’s coaches and Junior’s sub committee. It was my initial wish together with Brian on signing my contract with San Giljan to work hard on having a very good nursery which will start producing players for the 1st team – With the inclusion of some players which decided to join us and believed in our project , together with our homegrown players we are building for the future but also doing well in present (u15 winter league winners …u 17 winter league runners up) I am waiting for the time to come when it will not be necessary to go on panic – buy sprees spending a lot of money to lure players to our senior squad as we will have them ready from our nursery – I am keeping a constant eye on the nursery teams which are being guided fantastically by Kurt Dowling aided by Dino Camilleri – Many players who formed part of the winning winter league team train with me with the 1st team squad so I can monitor their progress closely and together with players mentioned above I cannot not mention the big impact new signings such Daniel Spiteri , Ben Plumpton and Darren Zammit had on our squads and hopefully the latter 2 will soon sign long term contracts with our club as I have very high esteem of both these players.