They’re shooting for the stars

Hangberg Horizon Stars head coach, Ricardo Phillips, shows players some of the areas they need to work on during a training session.

Over the last year, there’s been no competitive soccer taking place on the stunning setting of the artificial turf soccer field – leaving soccer lovers in the area yawning at lunch time while they munch on their fish and chips.

Brothers Sidney and Ricardo Phillips – both born and raised in Hangberg – said they are looking to change that.

Ricardo will lead Hangberg Horizon Stars as head coach and will use his football knowledge gained at Ajax Cape Town and coaching in the third division, to ensure they are competitive in their maiden season.

The duo are not newcomers to soccer at a semi-professional level. They were founding members of the Hout Bay United Football Community (HBUFC) third division franchise, which launched in 2014.

At the time, they bought Hellenic FC’s third division’s franchise; and again, took over Hellenic’s second division franchise. “We moved away from HBUFC last year and decided to start over. We have a good relationship with Mark Byrne from Hellenic, and that’s how we secured the second division team,” said head coach Phillips.

“The league rules state that you need a junior structure to play in the second division, which we don’t have just yet – so we’ll be playing under the Devonshire Rovers FC umbrella.

“We are planning to set up our junior structure for next season and will call the club Hangberg Horizon Stars FC,” he said.

Phillips said that majority of the squad is made up of players from the Hangberg community, with the rest of the team made up of players from Devonshire Rovers and from Ocean View.

“We started with about 60 players and have trimmed it down to 35 players. Once the season starts we will narrow it down further to 30 players.

“Starting this project is more than just playing in a top league, but also to grow the community and show kids in the area that football is alive,” said Phillips.

“For our first season, we just want to put on a good display of football for the fans and ensure we don’t get relegated.

“Also, we want the players to be role models for the community.

“Looking ahead, we believe we can be the next Chippa United and we have ambitions of playing in the PSL (Premier Soccer League). Chippa did it in three years but we’re aiming for four years,” he said.

The squad have been hard at work over the last two months, training three times a week and playing friendly matches on a Saturday.

Phillips has never coached in the second division before, but said he is ready for the challenge ahead.

“I’ve been playing since the age of seven and had stints at semi-pro clubs like Cape Town Chiefs under Pepe Dos Santos, and with FC Fortune. In 2006, I did a coaching course through a project called Stars in their Eyes.

“It was a joint project between the KNVB group – which is the governing body of football in the Netherlands – and the Department of Cultural Affairs. That was the start of my coaching career,” said Phillips.

“More opportunities opened up after that and I got to coach at Ajax Cape Town academy and at the Hout Bay High School. I’ve always worked with the youth teams and have some experience of coaching in the third division at HBUFC,” he said.