‘Especially when you’ve been injured for so long, it makes you hungry to achieve’ – Alex Baldacchino on his new role as Portchester U23s co-boss

Alex Baldacchino outlined his hunger to help a host of youngsters push themselves into the AFC Portchester first-team picture after landing a coaching role with the club's under-23s.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 3:57 pm
Alex Baldacchino on the ball for AFC Portchester against Alresford in 2019/20. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Royals have moved to appoint both Baldacchino and Joe Noakes as joint managers of the age group team following former boss Mark Dugan s departure to Hampshire Premier League Senior Division side Infinity.

Former Hawks youngster Baldacchino, who will continue playing for the club alongside his new role, is hugely motivated to see as many of the under-23s join him in Dave Carter's first-team squad.

And the striker, who missed all of the curtailed 2020-21 campaign with a calf strain, believes both his and Noakes’ injury record as players makes them even more determined to make a success in their joint managerial role.

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Noakes was forced to retire after rotten luck with injuries aged just 26

Baldacchino insisted: 'He’s (Joe) suffered with injuries and I’ve suffered with injuries.

‘I think when you suffer with injuries you kind of take that backseat and understand the game a bit more from that kind of perspective.

'We’re both looking forward to the role, getting our teeth into it, we’re determined to do well and we’ve got that hunger.

‘Especially when you’ve been injured for so long, it makes you hungry to achieve. We’re very motivated to progress on and take as many under-23s to get into the first-team picture.

‘That’s where our satisfaction will come from is seeing as many of those under-23s progress into the first team, as well as being a successful under-23s team that has that winning mentality.

‘Success breeds success, as they say.'

Badacchino was once a prolific scorer in the Wessex League. In 2012/13 he struck 31 league goals in only 29 starts, plus three off the bench, as Blackfield & Langley won their first Premier title.

That haul included two in a 4-1 win at Portchester in April 2013 when the hosts had Garry Moody and Rob Pittman both sent off.

The previous season, 2011/12, Baldacchino had struck 28 Wessex Premier goals in 35 starts for New Milton, who finished third from bottom.

Prior to that, he had made three first team sub appearances for Hawks during Shaun Gale’s time as manager, and also appeared in the Southern League for Poole Town.

Baldacchino sees his new role as another step towards achieving his aim of one day assuming coaching or managerial responsibility at senior level.

Yet, still only 30, the forward is not ready to relinquish playing duties right now.

Baldacchino will juggle trying to push himself into new manager Carter's plans in pre-season, along with continuing to oversee AFC Portchester's Academy in conjunction with his role as a sports lecturer at Fareham College.

He reckons his experience working with young players through his day job can help him hit the ground running with the under-23s.

He added: ‘It’s that progression for me in terms of the coaching side of things.

‘As I’m getting older - I still want to play, don’t get me wrong - but it’s trying to develop my experience and knowledge in the coaching set up to then eventually go on from there, really.

‘I enjoy seeing the youth develop. As a sports lecturer you see them progress over the few years and the ambition is to make that pathway even stronger from the under-18s progressing into the under-23s and hopefully pushing them onto the first team.'

Baldacchino and Noakes will take charge of their first game at Hamble Club under-23s in the Hampshire Combination League under-23 East Division this Thursday.