Two Central Coast Mariners youngsters will head overseas this week to pursue their footballing dreams, with Joey Jevtic and Jake Jovanovski joining OFK Belgrade’s U/19 side in Serbia on loan until the end of the 2020 season.
Jevtic and Jovanovski are recent products of the Mariners Academy and will link up with the Belgrade side thanks to an already existing relationship between OFK and Mariners’ Co-Chairman Anton Tagliaferro.
OFK Belgrade is one of the oldest teams in Serbia and was the winner of four League championships in former Yugoslavia. The boys will play against the likes of Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade in the U/19 championship.
Jevtic, who has been with the Mariners for four years and was a feature in Nick Montgomery’s NYL side this season, said he was looking forward to the chance.
“To be going to play in a great footballing country like Serbia will be an incredible experience. Hopefully I can go well over there, play at my best and really improve as a player.”
Jovanovski echoed Jevtic’s sentiment, saying he was excited for the opportunity to prove himself in a historically strong footballing nation.
“I was asked if I wanted to go and play for OFK for 5 months and once asked I was never going to turn down the opportunity” the 18-year old said.
“It’s very exciting to be able to get exposure to European football in a country like Serbia which is known as a very strong and competitive footballing country.”
Tagliaferro said he believed the opportunity presented a great chance for the boys to prove themselves in a very strong league, and said it served as a reminder of the pathways the Mariners have put in place for young footballers at the club.
“Our club now has in place strong recruitment processes for identifying the best young players around Australia.
“Once identified we offer opportunities to bring them to the club to develop them to their fullest potential. “
“At the Mariners we have now established a group – which I chair – made up of Alen Stajcic, Nahuel Arrarte ,Nick Montgomery and Ken Schembri which meets monthly where we discuss which young players around the country our coaches believe have strong potential and then we work out the best way of how we can bring these players to the Mariners. “
“In addition to this we also discuss the best potential pathways for each young player at the club and we all agreed that Joey and Jake both would benefit greatly from a loan period to a great club like OFK Belgrade.”
Upon arrival in Serbia next week the boys will train with the OFK Belgrade U/19 side and go on a training camp to Macedonia with the squad to train and play some friendlies before the under 19 competition in Belgrade restarts in February.