The world according to Boris

Meet Langwarrin’s man for all seasons

By Craig MacKenzie

He had a player agent as an 18-year-old, has played professionally in Malaysia and he’s in his ninth season at Langwarrin and keen to continue.

He’s quiet and polite but forthright. He is 34-year-old Boris Ovcin.

“Langy is a great social club and the people there feel like family, which is hard to find these days,” Ovcin said.

“All the boys hang out and we know each other on and off the park which makes it so enjoyable.”

It’s unlikely though that his teammates know the ins and outs of Ovcin’s CV because he doesn’t like talking about his football exploits.

He arrived in Melbourne with his parents from their native Croatia when he was eight years old and his junior career took in stints with Clayton Inter and Chelsea Hajduk before switching to Springvale City and making his senior debut as a 16-year-old under Billy Rae, the current gaffer at Frankston Pines.

“I used to play a full game in the reserves then a full game in the first team. I had a lot of energy back then,” Ovcin said almost wistfully.

“Billy Rae was fantastic. He was very good with young players and he instilled confidence in you which enabled you to push on to the next level.”

Ovcin represented Victoria from under-13s to under-15s and scored the golden goal in the 1997 campaign that took the Vics into the grand final of the national championships where they were edged out by the ACT.

Mario Hili was state coach back then and Ovcin speaks of him in glowing terms but his favourite junior coach was Jose Trebbia at Springvale City.

Ovcin’s talents did not go unnoticed and he won a scholarship to the soccer program conducted by Ernie Merrick at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

During his time there he was invited to three Joeys training camps but never made the final cut, however the VIS acted as a springboard into the National Youth League, initially with Gippsland Falcons then with South Melbourne.

It was a summer competition back then so Ovcin found himself playing football throughout the year.

At South Melbourne he won the Southern Division’s Player of the Year award in 2000 and his teammates included Socceroo Patrick Kisnorbo and current Rosebud Heart veteran Adam Poole.

“Basically what happened at South was that Ange Postecoglou left and Micky Petersen took over as senior coach and they got rid of a lot of the young guys so I ended up at Dandy Thunder in 2001 and had a really good season there.”

His youth league award had caught the attention of former AFL star Craig Nettlebeck, now a registered player agent, who contacted Ovcin and arranged a meeting.

“I remember him coming to my house in a top-notch Land Rover, fancy suit and all the trimmings.

“I was impressed but I was suspicious at the same time because I figured that someone who goes to a lot of effort to make themselves look good must have something behind the smoke and mirrors.

“And once I signed a two-year contract with Melbourne Knights nothing much occurred after that so we parted company after a year or so.”

Ovcin had finally reached the pinnacle of club football in Australia, the National Soccer League, by signing for a Croatian-backed club coached by Andrew Marth and Luciano Trani.

“It was a great experience playing alongside good players such as Roddy Vargas, Saša Ognenovski and Joel Porter.”

Marth often used a 3-5-2 formation and Ovcin was a left wingback. So too was Porter.

“Joel was absolutely killing it at the time and he was playing in my position so game time was limited.”

In the end Ovcin’s impatience won out.

“I got my contract cancelled because I wanted more playing time. I should have waited because the following year Joel left but back then I thought 19 was old.”

Port Melbourne offered Ovcin “a lot of money” and he accepted but 10 games into his stint there he switched to Premier League rival Frankston Pines.

“Basically the money dried up at Port and they stopped paying so I thought ‘let’s go to Pines and see what happens’ and it turned out to be a good move because we made the Grand Final that year (2003) but lost 1-0 to Green Gully.”

Ovcin was keen to chance his hand overseas and his wife-to-be, Katarina, arranged for a video highlights package to be made and sent to various clubs in South-East Asia.

Malaysian M-League outfit Penang was the first club to respond positively and two days into the trial Ovcin signed a one-year deal.

“Back then the Australian dollar was really low and we were paid in US dollars which was really good.

“It was definitely the best contract I’ve ever had and even now you see a lot of players in Australia leaving to play in Asia.”

Ovcin’s stint at Penang got off to a flyer with two goals in the first two games and two assists.

Everything seemed to be on track for a successful stay until homesickness kicked in exacerbated by a break in the season due to Ramadan.

“During Ramadan we trained twice a day but there were no games to look forward to and I got really bored to be honest.

“My parents visited then they left and that just made things worse.

“I was there with a Russian player from Spartak Moscow and a Romanian player and the club was going to sack the Romanian and bring in Pablo Cardoso but I said ‘don’t sack him, he’s got a family and I want to leave’ but they told me I couldn’t go.

“I contacted their federation and they told me if I got sacked I had to get three months in advance so in the end I got my full 12 months less one week.

“I went back to Pines but I decided it was time to get a proper job and I ended up getting fat.”

Ovcin’s weight ballooned to 92kgs between September and January, well above his usual playing weight of 78 kgs.

“I couldn’t really get back into it (playing) and when I put the weight on my hammies started to tear.

“Basically ever since I came back from Malaysia I haven’t been able to sprint the way I could.”

The death knell for Ovcin’s time at Pines was the sacking of head coach Adam Jamieson midway through the 2008 season.

That triggered a player exodus that saw Ovcin and close friend Cameron Leopold switch to Langwarrin.

It’s been the longest playing stint of Ovcin’s career and he doesn’t think the end is in sight.

“I just enjoy being here. I enjoy the boys, the banter, the club and I enjoy playing for Gus (Macleod).”

Ovcin and Ben Caffrey are partners in a real estate development business so given that Caffrey recently left Langwarrin for Pines and Ovcin already has a high regard for Pines coach Rae is there any chance of him heading back to Monterey Reserve?

“No. I intend to play for as long as possible at Langwarrin and when Gus says I’m not required then I think that will be it for me.”

Ovcin has played in every outfield position for Langy, even at right back and wide right, and this season has played a few games at left-back.

“We haven’t had our proper starting 11 on the pitch in any game this year because of injuries and suspensions and because we only have a squad of 16 once you get injuries and suspensions then you’re up against it.

“But I enjoy playing left back. I don’t see myself fitting in to a sweeper’s role because that’s the last spot for a player before they show you the door.

“I know that Langy is keen to get into the NPL and I think the future is bright for the club.

“This year we’ve seen the quality of young players brought into the side – James (Foster) the goalkeeper is really good, Brandon (Giles), CK (Callum Khaiyath) and Nabil (Mozaffarrudin) – and they’re all talented.

“I hope I’m still around to be part of the squad that wins the league.”

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