Sarawakian makes mark for state in Australian football

Sarawak-born Ein Eric with Box Hill United Soccer Club Melbourne logo. Photo Courtesy of Ein Eric.

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By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Dec 4: Sarawakian Ein Eric, 39, is making a name for himself in the world of football in Australia.

He was recently made head coach for the Under 20’s of a semi-professional soccer club called Box Hill United Soccer Club in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill.

Ein, who is of mixed Bidayuh and Iban descent, has been coaching various clubs in Australia over the last 12 years before his current gig with Box Hill United which is competing in the National Premier League (NPL) Victoria.

“The NPL is one level under the National A-League competition and we participated in the Football Federation Australia Cup (FFA Cup) and we based our football ground at Wembley Park in Box Hill South,” he revealed.

Ein added that as the head coach for the Under 20’s team, his main task was to prepare players for the first team.

“The Under 20’s is the reserve team to the senior and I have to work closely with the senior team coach, not only to discuss on coaching, but ultimately to help identify the right players for the first team.

Ein who is enthusiastic about his new coaching job said that it was still early days at the club as it was also still pre-season.

Ein (the last row first left) taking a photo opportunity with others during coaching clinic. Photo Courtesy of Ein Eric.

“I am optimistic with the team as the players are technically very good and my main goal is to get them ready to compete for first-team positions.

“Throughout the season, I will be judged on how many players get a role in the first team. They need to be ready to be promoted if their performance exceeds that of current first-team players and they will also need to be ready to fill in for an injury,” he said, explaining further about his role and his reserve team’s outlook.

“The team will participate in the NPL Victoria Under 20’s competition and to start with they are facing the Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City Academy teams as key games of the season and both these teams represent in the A-League competition,” he said.

Sharing his passion for football and his coaching journey

Ein taking a selfie with his junior players at Western Knights Soccer Club. Photo Courtesy of Ein Eric.

Ein who is athletic and loves sports said that he started playing serious football when he was a student at Western Perth University.

“I joined Subiaco City Football Club senior team as their goalkeeper from 2000 to 2005 in Perth, Australia.

“We did well and the club got promoted to West Australian State Division 1 of the National Premier League (NPL) but unfortunately I had to stop as I injured my shoulder and knee,” he lamented.

Ein then began his coaching career at the Western Knights Soccer Club from 2007 to 2016.

“In the nine years, I coached the juniors, then the Under 23s and was involved with the seniors coaching team before I became a technical director of the club.

He then moved from Western Australia to Victoria to further develop his coaching experience involving teams across all age groups.

“I believed that this needed to be done to develop my experience as a coach in NPL,” he said.

Ein said his first football job in Victoria was with the senior coaching team of the Port Melbourne Sharks Soccer Club from 2017 to 2019 season and then as NPL first team Assistant Coach at Geelong Soccer Club Victoria from May 2019 to October 2019 before moving to his present coaching job at Box Hill United Soccer Club.

Sarawak Football

Ein ( first right) with his Geelong Soccer Club , Victoria. Photo Courtesy of Ein Eric.

On Sarawak football, Ein said he will always remember watching their memorable games in the formidable days of Ngap Sayot and the Bujang Senang team with his father and uncles.

“The stadium was packed with fans coming as far as Limbang and we even sat on the steps at the stadium to watch the games, but my attraction at a young age has always been the coaching box following Awang Mahyan, Alan Vest, then Jalil Ramli.

“It is my ambition to one day coach the team in Sarawak and my time in Australia has been to educate myself in all things football,” said Ein.

“I chose to learn from Australia as most of our successful imports have come from Australia in the likes of Alan Vest as a coach and players John Hunter, Jeff Curran, David Evans and Alistair Edwards.

“I know and understand the people wanting the best for the team, the ambition of every Sarawakian for the team to succeed but the pressure on coaches and players to succeed is enormous,” he said.

Ein opined that managing this expectation will be the challenge and sometimes the players needed to be shielded from the pressure so that they could focus on their play.

“I always tell players in my team to work hard in training and games and play well by practising and executing the game plan. Mistakes can happen, and it is all about mitigating those mistakes, focus on the task, declutter the outside noise so the players focus on what they need to do. Win games by working hard,” he advised.

Ein ( first right) having a training session with his Port Melbourne Soccer Club players. Photo Courtesy of Ein Eric.

Ein said that now his short term goal was to work hard and gain more football knowledge, drawing on expertise from Australia and internationally.

He hoped that the Sarawak government would support the team where it could.

“It is a new world where players have grown up not knowing previous successes and the focus should be on the new generation creating their legacies as compared to relying on previous glories.”

He cited Liverpool as an example. Although they last won the league in 1990, they continued to evolve and compete and get fresh ideas.

Apart from gaining more experience with the various clubs in Australia, Ein said that he was also upgrading his coaching and skill training licenses.

He holds FFA B Coaching Licence (2011), FFA C Coaching Licence (2009) by Football Association Australia, FFA Youth Licence (2007) by Football West (A state governing and censoring body for association football in Western Australia). —DayakDaily