Roma’s Italian non-import
A chance encounter in Italy led to Antonio Agovski suiting up for the St. Catharines Roma Wolves League1 men’s squad.
The 19-year-old Oakville resident was sent to Italy in the spring of 2022 by an agent to play with the Third Division Viterbese squad that just happened to have Roma head coach Federico Turriziani on its staff. During the six-month residency program, Agovski caught the eye of Turriziani.
“I met him there and he told me to come to Roma. That is how it started,” Agovski said.
Turriziani was intrigued by Agovski’s abilities.
“I asked him why he was in Italy and he said he was there for one year to get better. He was very young but I realized he had a lot of potential and he was very skilled. And when I heard he was from Oakville, I told him that he had to come play in St. Catharines with me.”
Later that spring, Agovski attended the Roma training camp and quickly realized it was where he wanted to be.
“When I first came to try out with him I saw his values and I could see that he was a good coach.”
In his first season with Roma, he only scored once in 15 games.
“It was my first year playing with men of all ages and the physicality and the speed of play was much better and I wasn’t very experienced,” he said. “Now I feel more comfortable and confident.”
That confidence came from an off-season dedicated to becoming a better player at the League1 level.
“I worked on my body, my physicality, my mental approach and I became more confident.”
He was also aided by the training he did in his first season with the Brock Badgers men’s squad.
“When I was at Brock, we were in the gym a lot and that helped prepare me a lot for this League1 season.”
The second-year business student at Brock, who played left wing for Brock and suits up on left and right wing for Roma, has caught fire this season. He has already netted six goals in 2023 for the Wolves, including a hat trick and a two-goal performance.
His play is no surprise to Turriziani.
“Last year for him was his first time in League1. I tried to push him to do much more and reach his potential and this year he is finally starting to be the player I want,” he said. “I am very happy but he can do much more. That is why I push him at every practice and every game to be better and more confident.”
Agovski is enjoying his time with Roma.
“I really like the group of players that we have. We all get along really well. We had a rough start but I feel that we are starting to pick up now.”
He knows he is far from a finished product and he is continuing to focus on what he needs to do to get better.
“I have to be more consistent in everything that I do. I have to be more vocal and be more involved.”
His second summer with the Wolves is a great way to jumpstart his second season with Brock.
“It keeps you in top shape. I know some players it’s like an off-season for them. It is nice to be able to still play, keep in shape and be ready for pre-season and all that.”
The Wolves fell to 3-9-2 on the season Friday with a 2-1 loss to the visiting Vaughan Azzuri (9-2-2). Michael Solomon netted the lone goal for the home side.
Roma hosts Blue Devils FC next Friday at 8:45 p.m.
The Wolves defeated the Woodbridge Strikers 3-2 Sunday to go 2-1-2 in their last five games following a six-game losing streak. Solomon netted a hat trick in the win.
Friday’s home game the Azzuri was part of the celebrations related to the opening of the Tiamo Festival Cup at Club Roma.
The cup has been running for 18 or 19 years and had always included a large youth soccer tournament. This year for the first time there, is an adult and an under-21 women’s division.
“It is done in conjunction with the club so it is a partnership. The club usually puts on a big Italian festival as past of the weekend,” Roma soccer president Martin Beswick said. “We bring in teams from all over the province and this is the biggest tournament ever this year.”
There are 247 teams taking part from as far away as Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie and Ottawa.
It is a great weekend of soccer and a big economic boost for Niagara.
“I would think so,” Beswick said. “You figure you have almost 250 teams, multiply that by 12 or 13 players per team plus their families. That’s a lot of money going into hotels and it should be an incredible impact for the region.”