Every winter, Simon Hovian finds himself on a football pitch six days a week – he wouldn’t change it for a thing.
Simon played football from the age of four and first joined Wakehurst FC when he was eight.
Once a handy defensive player who also represented Manly-Warringah Dolphins for a season before suffering a serious knee injury, Hovian hung up the boots a few years ago.
These days, his involvement in football is well and truly a family affair.
He currently manages the Tigers’ Premier League side and has enjoyed assisting with the coaching of his wife’s and daughters’ teams.
A key reason Simon commits so heavily is his 16-year-old son Riley, who is developmentally delayed.
“Riley absolutely loves watching football, just loves it,” he says.
“My weekend usually involves watching five or six or seven games of football and it’s an absolute labour of love because I get to see him enjoy something.
“It’s the closest to us having a kind of normal father-son relationship because of his disabilities.”
As Wakehurst’s number one fan, Riley is a familiar face across the Premier League and Simon is grateful for how he has been embraced by the entire footballing community.
“I know I can take him to games and we can enjoy ourselves together – that’s how I came about being a Premier League manager too,” he explains.
“Even when we travel away I know Riley is safe because the MWFA football fraternity all know who he is.
“I love it – the club, what I do, and the boys involved are really encouraging to Riley.
“Sometimes I’ll find him wearing his Wakehurst #1 supporter jumper going over and joining the opposition team’s huddle!”
Simon’s passion for coaching has flourished ever since he took up a role with a Wakehurst U9s team when he was only 15.
“Watching kids adapt to a new skill and using it in a game just gives me an absolute buzz,” he reflects.
“Same thing with coaching women – when you’re coaching them to play football and they execute some kind of tactical move I just look at it and go ‘that’s what it’s all about.’
“The one thing I always used to measure myself as a successful coach is whether each kid that I am coaching will at least want to play the next year.
“It’s all about just being a good role model and influence and a positive influence on people.”
Over the years Simon has founding himself coaching at Belrose-Terry Hills and Brookvale alongside his ongoing service at Wakehurst.
Nevertheless, he firmly maintains where his true loyalties lie.
“I used to wear my Wakehurst gear while coaching my wife’s BTH team, which they weren’t happy with at all,” he jokes.
“Even to the extent where I started coaching my wife’s team again at Brookvale last year, I used to turn up in my Wakehurst gear so they started putting Brookie blue on me.
“But I always made a practice of making sure I had something Wakehurst underneath.
“I would always look at them and say yeah, I might be wearing the Azzurri blue but underneath beats the heart of a Wakehurst Tiger!”
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