Young Aussie coach Nick Tolios has just experienced a September he’ll never forget and one he says may never be topped.
The Victorian NPL coach saw his team relegated but within weeks he had won the Championship.
Tolios, 37, a rising star of Victorian coaching, tells FTBL about a month few if any coaches in the world have done.
“My club Kingston got relegated from the NPL at the end of the regular season. But my season wasn’t over,” the former South Melbourne midfielder explained.
After Bentleigh Greens lost their third coach this season following John Anastasiadis’ exit to Western United, Tolios was asked to guide the club in the finals.
Tolios took over for two weeks as the team’s fourth coach in one season!
He barely had time to change any game plans or philosophy, he simply supported the players and the existing structure and tried to get the best out of them.
On the weekend, his approach reaped great reward: the Greens won the NPL title in one of the great NPL stories.
“The last 24 hours have been surreal," he told FTBL after the shootout win over Avondale, their third title in five years."And it’s been a crazy two weeks.
“I just told them to stay positive, have belief in themselves and that I was there to support each player and the team.
“I think Bentleigh was the first team from outside the top four to win the NPL Premiership.
“Everyone’s telling me I’m the first coach to get relegated and win the league in the same season!”
What makes the weekend’s win even more unusual is that Kingston and Bentleigh are huge rivals by dint of geography.
For Bentleigh to turn to a coach from their closest rivals was another eyebrow-raiser in this remarkable story.
However, Tolios, a former NSL player with Carlton, is confirmed as the Greens coach for next season.
As he says: “It’ll be hard to top this season wherever I coach in the future.”
Tolios is one of many talented Australian coaches who hope to be given an opportunity in the national second division in years to come.
“It’s all about opportunity," he said. "That’s all we want as coaches."
And that includes female coaches for male teams.
He added: "I hope male and female coaches from Australia will be given a chance in the second division.”