Posted on: Sunday, July 26, 2009
After an impressive first year, the Victoria Highlanders will be moving into their second year without a familiar face. Head Coach Colin Miller announced his resignation at the clubs year end awards banquet.
"The decision has nothing to do with the team, players or management," confirmed Miller. "It was a tough personal decision that I had to make. My family lives in Abbotsford, and I have been travelling back and forth ever since taking on this position. My children are at an age that I need to be around more. No coach would want to walk away from such a great club. Everything is going right for the Highlanders, we have a great organization and fantastic fans. I will be cheering them on next year, even though I won't be around."
Miller, who was a former Canadian national team players and interim manager, will take over as Technical Director at the Abbotsford Soccer Association which also has a team in the United Soccer Leagues PDL. "I'm sure there will be mixed emotions when I return to Victoria with Abbotsford, but I have many fantastic memories here and I am leaving many good friends. I look forward to seeing them again next year."
One of the many off-season tasks for the Highlanders will be to find a successor for the 2010 season. "There are many qualified coaches who would love to have the opportunity to coach this team, including current staff," commented Highlanders General Manager Drew Finerty. "What we want to do now is find someone who fits into our goals and ambitions. Due diligence is what's needed at this point, and we will take the time required to find the right candidate."
Highlanders Announce Plans With Austin Aztex
In addition to the coaching search, the Highlanders are aiming to ink a possible farm-team affiliation with the professional Austin Aztexs' of USL Division 1, as well as play an international friendly exhibition match with Austin in mid September. "This is all a work in progress, but we feel confident that we will be able to sign on a full affiliation with Austin," confirmed Finerty. "The first step was to prepare for three of our young players to travel to Austin for a two week trial. Over the next few weeks we will see the agreement take further shape. We are laying the groundwork for our future, as well as the future of players that we develop. A partnership with the Aztex will allow our players an opportunity to play at a higher level, as well as a possible link to an English premiership club."
The Austin Aztex are owned by Phil Rawlins, is also a director of EPL side Stoke City. Rightback Tynan Diaz, as well as midfielders' Jason Devenish and Jordie Hughes, are slated to travel to Austin in August for trials, as the Aztexs look to strengthen their squad for the USL Division 1 playoff run. Further details of the agreement will be announced later this summer prior to the exhibition match in Victoria.
Highlanders Year End Award Winners
As for the Highlanders awards banquet, stalwart defender Paul VandenBoomen was named team MVP and defensive player of the year. Jordie Hughes, who scored eight goals, was awarded the top goalscorer and top offensive player awards. Tynan Diaz, of Australia, earned foreign player of the year, whilst young 17-year-old Darren Jones won rookie of the year. In addition, Chris Arnett earned top reserves player, Craig Robertson took home the fair play award, Lennart Dobravsky won the award for commitment & dedication and Robbie Veenhof earned a trio of awards for leadership, community work, and most inspirational.