SEBASTOPOL Vikings will never kick a ball to start their season without always thinking of their teammates and friend Simo Mitrovic.
That is the vow from club coach Corey Smith as the squad prepares for the second annual Simo Mitrovic match on Saturday morning at St Georges Reserve which will open the season.
Simo was just 24 when he died suddenly in May 2020, rocking his close knit family and Ballarat's soccer community.
Last year, despite all the hassles with COVID protocols, his clubs, the Sebastopol Vikings and Westgate Sindjelic FC, came together to honour his memory.
Simo's brothers Nenad, Nikola, Dejan and Nedeljko all took to their pitch in their brothers honour, two on each side. This year, all four will line up for the Vikings and all will wear Simo's number seven.
"The biggest thing for me is you can see how much it means to Simo's family, for us it's about putting a smile on their face and playing football is what put a smile on Simo's face," Smith said.
"Last year, we were in the peak of COVID, but it was fantastic and we had some great numbers to celebrate Simo's life. We're running a free barbecue after the match, we'd love to see even bigger numbers come on down and enjoy the day."
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Simo's mother Anita said she was thrilled that both clubs had come together to honour her son's life once again, proud that he won't be forgotten.
"The soccer club have done an amazing job to organise a second cup this year, it's exciting and I'm a little nervous, but I know Simo will be proud," she said.
"He played all his life, he loved the game, starting at Daylesford, then moving the Ballarat City, then the Vikings and on to Westgate and back to the Vikings.
"He just loved his soccer and I'm so proud of the number seven."
The game will be played over three 30 minutes periods starting at 11am on Saturday at St Georges Reserve with the barbecue to follow after the match.
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