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UFV Legends: Sasa Plavsic

Sasa Plavsic has played for the UFV men’s soccer team for three seasons as a striker. He has accumulated a total of 20 goals for the Cascades over those seasons and is respected for his accomplishments as a team leader and a student-athlete.

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By Paul Esau (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 9, 2013

Sasa Plavsic has played for the UFV men’s soccer team for three seasons as a striker. He has accumulated a total of 20 goals for the Cascades over those seasons and is respected for his accomplishments as a team leader and a student-athlete.

Jersey Number: 8
Middle Name: None
Dogs or Cats: Neither
Favorite Restaurant: Cactus Club
Nationality: Half Serbian, half Croatian
Years playing soccer: 19
Woman of your dreams: I think all women are beautiful, but if I really had to pick one it would be Katherine Heigl

So who is your favourite professional soccer player?

Mario Mandžuki?. He was born in my hometown, and he’s a big Croatian International now and a very big star at Bayern Munich. Before it was David Beckham. No sorry, [before it was] Savo Miloševi?.

Besides UFV you’ve also played for some semi-professional clubs. Can you list some of those?

I joined the Abbotsford Mariners in 2009, and that’s where I first met Allan [Errington]. I played for them for three years . . . then I came the following year to play for UFV in January of 2010 . . . this past year I played with the Victoria Highlanders in the PDL.

Explain what the PDL is for those of us who are not footballers.

The PDL is the Premier North American Development League, it’s kind of like the WHL of North American soccer. Because the NCAA and CIS only run through the first semester, the PDL was set up by the United soccer leagues as a development league and a gateway to professional soccer. So what they have is 64 or 68 teams regionalized across North America, and basically the top college, NIA, NCAA, CIS players put together on teams and then play the course of the season. There are some ex-pros because you are allowed a few over-age players. They usually start around April to the end of June-July, and that’s when players go back to their university teams.

How have you seen the UFV soccer team improve during the three years you’ve been a part of it?

I think over time there have [been] less roster moves, especially over the last one or two years there are more players sticking around in the program, whereas before a lot of players came in for a year and dropped out and there was a big new recruiting class. I haven’t personally been able to experience the benefits of it, but I think that for this generation that’s come in this year a lot of them will be here for the four or five years to play . . . so the team will start having [more] familiar faces each year and there won’t be a lot of roster changes.

So more continuity and more of a team atmosphere?

For sure, because as a new player you’re coming into a team with let’s say 18 returning players and maybe three new players whereas before I think two years ago we had seven or eight new recruits come in . . . definitely there will be a lot more community within the team and it will raise the program up.

Throughout your three years here, what has been your favourite memory with this team? 

I would say as a team it was winning the Keg Cup versus Trinity Western last year. My individual memory would be scoring two goals versus Trinity, and beating them 2-1 at Bateman Park two years ago. I think that would be the most memorable game I’ve played.

So not your three-goal adventure in the last game of the season against MRU?

I think it was a nice send off, but my most memorable game was the other one.

What, in your opinion, has been the team’s biggest accomplishment over your time at UFV?

I think over the last two years it’s been building a group of leaders. I think we’ve got four or five players who really lead the team and who are going to be here for their full five years and finish their degrees and play. I would say their leadership and our leadership skills are proven, and I think [also] just the camaraderie around the team. It’s a very tight-knit group, especially this year, and I think that’s influenced how we’ve done this season.  I know we were a point short of playoffs, but I think if this group continues to stick around, it will improve.

What has kept you playing football throughout your university career, and what do you love about it?

Ironically, I would say what got me started playing at UFV was the fact that they had a kinesiology program. At the time I went from Kwantlen to Douglas cause they had a kines program, but they didn’t really offer a degree program . . . so when I decided to come to UFV my first priority was I got to go into the kines program. I think as I started playing and realizing the importance of the CIS, I started to take soccer a little more seriously. So the first couple years were a little bit patchy and stuff, and after that I started to grow more as a student athlete, rather than just an athlete, and my academics definitely picked up . . . I know I started as just an athlete hoping to get into a program and finish it, whereas now I’m trying to look beyond that and be a student athlete who’s looking at a career and professional sports . . . [perhaps] doing a master’s in sports management.

I like the professionalism of the CIS and the standards it has . . . and the other part of it is that I’ve always aspired to play professionally, so this was a good way to do both and in the meantime work towards a career.

In one sentence, what is the most important piece of advice you have for student athletes at UFV? You’re the wise older kung-fu master at this point, talking to your little padawans, what do you tell them?

It might be more than a sentence, but this one you’ve got to put down. I would say, “you’re a student athlete, so you’re going to have to learn to balance academics and athletics through your schooling.  If you’re looking to go farther with your sport you have to be patient . . . I think the best option is finish up your degree and play as much as you can during your university career and then look for other opportunities.  Those opportunities might be out there while you’re in school, but I think it’s important to wait and finish out your university career and then move into the professional path because the university is a good stepping stone for that and it helps you have something to fall back on.”

What do you have to say to your coaches after three years of working with them? What do you appreciate about them?

I think what I’ve most appreciated is their professionalism for sure, because Alan is always early and always organized and always on the job . . . [and that’s] something I’m really thankful for.  And how they do their job and how they run training sessions and everything that comes along with that.

So this year you got to play with your brother [Dalibor Plavsic] for the first time ever.  Following you guys on Twitter has been entertaining. What would be your advice to him?

I think it was good playing with my brother because I understand him and a lot of the things he does. Advice for him . . . stay off of social media and get in the gym. You can write that (laughs).

Last question, where do you go from here?

From here?

I [will attend] a combine in January. If that goes well I’ll be playing in the USL, if it doesn’t I’m going to look for other opportunities overseas. I thought I was going to do the master’s in sports management right away, but I think I’m going to put that on pause for a little bit and just see where I go with sports. I could be doing it a year from now, or I could be doing it five or 10 years down the road.

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