Committed to growing the game

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association vice-president Barclay Batiuk shakes hands with technical director Dragan Ivkovic Wednesday.

A conversation over Skype three years ago has paid off in spades for the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association.

As the club held its registration for the indoor season this week at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse, it announced that technical director Dragan Ivkovic had signed a contract extension to stay in his role through 2022.

“I’ve really enjoyed being here in Prince Albert for the last three years and I see a lot of potential here in this community with the number of people we have playing soccer and the great facilities we have here,” Ivkovic said.

“I enjoy working every single day here and I’m really thankful for the support of everyone on the board. We’re all on the same page, which is exactly what you want to have in a job like this.”

Since Ivkovic came over from Serbia three years ago, the impact he’s had has been felt first hand by those involved with the PAYSA.

“It’s not often you can bring someone who is an UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) ‘A’ licenced coach,” Ivkovic said.

“I think one of the parents of our players put it best when they said it was like having a NHL coach come in to your son or daughter. When we had the opportunity to extend his contract, it was something that we wanted to do right away.”

With numbers continuing to rise in the competitive ranks and the house leagues, Ivkovic wants to keep improving the PAYSA and make it one of the biggest clubs in the province.

“The most important thing I want to do is make sure that it’s an enjoyable experience for everyone,” Ivkovic said. “When you look at the house leagues here, we have a mix of highly skilled players and those that just want to have fun, so it’s important to make sure that it’s a good mix for all of the players.”

“One of the things that has really stood with Dragan’s involvement here is just how important relationships are for him,” Batiuk said. “He’s got a strong connection with the kids, the parents and many of the communities around Prince Albert. All of that makes a huge impact for soccer around the district.”

Registration for the indoor season is open until Sept. 28 and can done online at ssa-princealbertyouth.goalline.ca

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