Hoffman On The Resurgence

Following a campaign which failed to yield much in terms of game time, Jason Hoffman was at a crossroads.

Following a campaign which failed to yield much in terms of game time, Jason Hoffman was at a crossroads.

Widely regarded as one of the leading members of Australian football-s next generation, Hoffman-s struggle to break into a Melbourne Heart FC side laden with aging yet international calibre talent last season forced the Novacastrian into a period of introspection, as he made a serious evaluation of his game.

Aided by the support of Head Coach John van ‘t Schip, Hoffman embarked on a journey of reinvention over the off-season, searching for the confidence he had so dearly lacked during his debut year in Red and White.

While the interminable and seemingly endless off-season was painful, bordering on excruciating for most, Hoffman used the opportunity to develop his game, constructively drawing upon his time in the Victorian Premier League with Richmond, and in facing local opposition in a series of friendly matches for Heart to rediscover his scoring touch, and consequently, his self belief.

His transformation crystallised during a Olympic qualifier against Yemen midway through the year, where a newly minted individual took to the field in Green and Gold, netting five times across two matches, marking a key turning point in his evolution as an elite footballer.

“I guess, the biggest (change) is just the mindset,” Hoffman said, reflecting on his career resurgence.

“I-ve always been fairly positive in how I go about my football, but I was sometimes anxious, and it affected by performance.

"I think having a really solid pre-season with Melbourne Heart, and doing well in the early qualifiers for the Olyroos really gave me a lot of confidence to take into the A-League.

“Rather than worry about how I perform, it-s more confidence going into the game, and I-m almost certain I-ll do a job for the team and be more outgoing and positive when I have the ball.”

Hoffman-s newfound comfort on field hardly went unnoticed and resulted in selection to the Heart starting eleven for the opening match of the campaign.

For the 22-year-old to then play a critical role in orchestrating the first goal of the Hyundai A-League season, drawing upon his pace and skill to surge through the Newcastle Jets defence before providing an assist to Mate Dugandzic was poignant in the least.

While searching for a reason, the catalyst for his lately discovered zeal, Hoffman is quick to acknowledge the contribution of van ‘t Schip, who he credited in instilling the self-belief which has sparked his emergence as a corner stone of the Australian Under 23 side.

“John-s been great with me over the last six to 12 months,” he said.

“Over the off-season, he gave me a lot of confidence, and played me in a few different positions to see how I go. We seem to have come to agree I do well playing out of midfield. John-s given me the freedom to make runs.

“He-s a fantastic people manager and he knows how to manage different personalities within the team, and creates an environment which gets the best out of everyone.

“I love working under him and the other coaches, Ante Milicic and John Aloisi. I continually learn from those guys every day, and they have given me the confidence away from football to bring that to the fore when I play.”

While Hoffman-s performances have been rewarded in the form of a contract extension, he concedes his game remains a work in progress.

Nonetheless, one can be certain Hoffman will likely play a deciding role in determining whether or not Australia makes a seventh consecutive appearance at the Olympic Games.

“It-s been a fairly good turnaround, but in saying that, there is so much more I need to work on, and I-m not quite there yet,” he said.

“I-ll continue to work with (our coaching staff) and see how I finish at the end of the season.”