In the weeks preceding Belconnen United claiming a ninth straight NPLW Premiership at Gissing Oval in Wagga Wagga, Antoni Jagarinec had already made his mind up to stand down from the women’s program that he’s built into a force over the past 10 years.
He did not tell his team straight after the game, allowing celebrations to continue, rather he announced his decision to the first grade squad in a no-frills way after a Tuesday night training session days later.
It was an announcement met with plenty of emotion from a squad featuring players who have been with him through the whole journey.
It’s been a long road for Jagarinec since he lost 5-0 to Belwest in his first game with the team, who, along with Woden Valley, were benchmarks in the women’s game at that point.
After that match, the rookie coach knew he had to help the program if there was to be any success.
“The following Tuesday [after Belwest], we had three players turn up to training, one of who is still in our team today,” he said.
“That night, we decided on a ‘no train, no play, no exceptions’ rule moving forward, and we finished third in the league and lost in a semi-final but had laid a foundation.”
From there, Jagarinec’s program blossomed into the giant it is today, with nine straight Premierships collected from 2011 to 2019, seven Federation Cups won, and featuring in all eight Grand Finals with Champions trophies to show for six of them.
But despite the silverware and accolades, the 33-year old says his greatest achievement is the culture he has created at the club that will last long past his time.
“The culture within the group and the maturity of the players that have come through, and continue to come through is something I am very proud of,” he said.
“We have fostered a great environment that players want to enter in to, and that has been a huge part of building this program.”
A Westfield W-League assistant when Canberra United won the Premiership in season nine, Jagarinec has continually looked to raise the standard of the local competition too.
With a swathe of players who have gone on to representative honours, and with a firm structure now in place, the time is right for him to call it a day with the finals approaching.
Jagarinec and his squad will begin their quest for a seventh Championship on Saturday afternoon when they take on Canberra FC in the NPLW Qualifying Final at AIS Grass 1, kicking off at 4:30pm.
You can catch all the all the NPL1 and NPLW semi-finals action live on BarTV Sports.