Thompson Rivers University
Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s soccer team will have more local talent on its roster when it hits the pitch to begin the 2015-16 Canada West season.
The program has prided itself in trying to secure the top Kamloops talent in the past and plan to continue that tradition with the announcement that midfielder Haris Djelmo (pronounced jelmo) has committed to the program.
Djelmo will graduate from Sa-hali Secondary in June and currently plays with the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association U 17-18 REP team.
“We feel Haris is a great fit for our program,” said TRU head coach John Antulov. “He has great upside potential in a very important position-central midfield. He is a very skillful, technical player that has excellent vision.”
“There was no other choice for me other than TRU,’ Djelmo says. “ It is going to be a big transition from what I am used to but I am ready for it.” Djelmo will be taking some courses designed to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree along with dabbling in some trades courses.
“He has the ability to unlock defenses with good passes because of his vision or has the dribbling ability to take players on to create goal scoring opportunities,” adds Antulov. “He has great size and physical ability-all tools to be successful.”
Djelmo’s REP coach will be his assistant with the WolfPack in Tim Hutton. “He provides us with a presence in the midfield that allows us to move other players to give us a very strong lineup. Being one of two 18 year olds, he provides us with leadership. Haris has the skill and size to play at the CIS level. He is a very good passer of the ball. He will be a very good player in this league if he pushes himself. With his size, skill and vision he has all the tools needed to succeed.”
The 6’2” Djelmo looks forward to working with Hutton and Antulov for the next five years. “I worked with John in the Whitecaps Academy. I am more excited now that he will be my head coach permanently. I think he is the best coach in Kamloops.” He does add that he has had the benefit of a lot of experienced and talented coaches growing up through the minor soccer system including his father. “ I have learned a lot from the coaches. Playing HPL for four years was very beneficial. I have to say my biggest influence was my father who taught me feints, stops and starts along with changes in directions. With feints, I learned how to create space to either side of an opponent so I can shoot, pass or run with the ball. With stops and starts, I learned how to create space by using changes if pace. With changes of direction, I learned how to use them to shield the ball and to turn into space. I am so thankful my dad taught me this and to the other coaches and I hope to show that their hard work and time with me will translate into victories for TRU.”
His high school coach with Sa-hali was Mary Bartucci—who also mentored the likes of former WolfPack players Kyle Fertile, Braeden Burrows, Darren Dinsdale, along with Justin and Nolan Wallace in recent years. “His technical/ball control has always been strong and one of the taller, stronger players in his age group.” She says. “I think his greatest development with us (she has coached him for four years) came in the mental part of the game and embracing the unique structure and philosophy of our team/program. He has really learned a lot about himself and the impact he can have on his team. He has started to see the game from a different perspective and has been working on how he can help the team better instead of his own development.”
She goes onto say: “He has become more mature and has a more open-minded attitude. He realizes that he has a lot to offer younger, less experienced players in terms of mentorship and coaching. It is no longer about what he can achieve individually, but more about the role he can play in helping a team be successful.”
Djelmo is helping Bartucci coach the Sa-hali junior girls’ soccer program this spring. “Before joining our team, he was so driven to perfect his own game. Now as he is graduating from this program, I have seen him embrace a more mentoring type of role. He and I have a great relationship where we can talk and analyze and break things down very easily. I am so proud of the growth and maturity he has shown over the years. He is a very talented player and instead of letting that separate him from his teammates, he has learned how to share it and bring it out in others.”
He is enthused about rekindling a winning attitude with the WolfPack soccer program as they enter their second year of CIS play. “I plan to work hard for my minutes and show the coaches what I can do. At the same time, reestablish a winning culture here.”
“He is still very young and has to develop his tactical, defensive play and fitness at the CIS level but that will come with working with the very strong group of midfielders that we have in place for the coming season.”
Djelmo joins fellow 2015-16 recruits: Mitchell Popadynetz ( 5’10”, midfield-forward, Nelson, BC/Maple Ridge Secondary-UBC), Parker Denton ( 5’10”, left back-midfield, Coquitlam, BC/Dr. Charles Best Secondary-Surrey United BCSPL), and Nolan DeRosa ( 5’6” midfield, Trail, BC-J.L Crowe Secondary-Kootenay Whitecaps Academy).
The WolfPack open training camp in early August with their season and home opener pegged for September 12 th at Hillside Stadium.
OUTSIDE THE 18 : Djelmo lists helping Sa-hali finish second at the Provincial “AA” finals this season and playing in Europe in 2014 as his greatest sports achievements. His father Fahrudin is the official’s allocator in the Kamloops region. His family emigrated from Bosnia where his father was a police officer.
Bartucci on Djelmo’s transition to the CIS: “For how driven and passionate about soccer he is and the amount of time he has personally put into his own development it should be an easy smooth thing. He has the physical size and strength, he craves challenge and competition and has a commendable knowledge of the game-enough to hold his own and transition nicely. I am sad to see him go but also so proud of the player that he has become. If he is anything like he was for me this past season, John will love coaching him and he will have a positive impact on the WolfPack program.
Djelmo’s REP team recently were the co winners of the KYSA Slurpee Cup as they tied Kelowna 1-1 in the final on Victoria Day.