Cronulla Sharks coach Predrag Mihailovic is the new head coach of the Australian Stingers women's water polo team.
Mihailovic, who played senior water polo in Europe for more than 15 years, coached in Turkey and his native Serbia before coaching in Australia.
Mihailovic will step up from his role as the women’s national team’s assistant coach where he has been a key support figure to the Aussie Stingers since his appointment in 2013.
He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role as a successful coach with more than 20 years at the top level.
He also has a good understanding of the system in Australia through his role as NSW Institute of Sport’s women’s head coach where he is responsible for the women’s high-performance program.
Mihailovic’s tenure starts with the exhibition Test matches against Japan at the 2019 Australian Youth Water Polo Championships in Brisbane on Thursday and Friday.
The two-Test match series between Australia and Japan will take centre stage as part of the two-week festival of water polo which will bring together 3,000 junior competitors from across the country.
Mihailovic’s successes as a head coach last year included winning the bronze medal with the ACU Cronulla Sharks men’s team in the 2018 OVO Australian Waterpolo League competition and leading the Australian women’s A team’s Japan tour in August to develop some of the country’s most promising female water polo players.
Previously Milhailovic was a successful coach of multiple European clubs.
He understands the daily challenges athletes face and can translate this knowledge into a program which will influence positive outcomes for the Australian women’s team.
Water Polo Australia’s high performance manager Aleksandr Osadchuk said the appointment was critical to the successful implementation of the restructured high-performance strategy ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and beyond.
“We believe that Predrag has the perfect mix of international experience and expertise to ensure that our strategic philosophy as athlete-focused, team-centered performance culture is developed in the lead up to Tokyo Olympics and beyond,” he said.
“Predrag is able to drive our focused approach supported by world class professional personnel through clear directions, guidelines and collaboration with key stakeholders which will inevitably allow us to achieve desired outcomes in Tokyo and build a solid platform for many years to come.
“Predrag has been working within the Aussie Stingers program for many years and knows what we need to do in the remaining period leading into the next Olympic Games.
“He will be able to reinforce the Aussie Stingers identity on the world stage to ensure that we are building a winning culture and developing role models for many generations to come.”
NSWIS CEO, Professor Kevin Thompson, backed the appointment.
“Over five years at NSWIS, Predrag has contributed significantly to the development of world class athletes within the women’s program,” he said.
“In fact, NSWIS scholarship holders represented over 60 per cent of Australia’s bronze medal-winning 2018 World Cup team.
“While he will be missed, his appointment as the national head coach is a positive one for the sport and we look forward to working with him to ensure the ongoing progression of talented athletes into the Australian Stingers team.”