Pribil chases soccer dream

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:43 AM ET

There is no happier place to be in the world than doing the job you love most.

If Londoner Jerry Pribil had his choice, he would probably be playing soccer. He played it for many years through the London minor system and his talent was such that he managed to play at a high level of competition overseas.

But even though injuries ended his playing career, they didn't prevent him from continuing his love affair with the game in whatever manner possible. Pribil is well known in London for his community work and his business background.

He is the owner of the Marienbad Restaurant, former manager of Station Park Inn and continues to be involved in soccer and the community.

And now he is in his happy place.

In the next month or so, Pribil will be leaving London with his wife Maria and family and heading to his native Czech Republic to become the chief operating officer of Marila Pribram, a team in the Czech first division. He'll be running the team with lifelong friend and former Czech national team player Pavel Kuka, who will be the chief executive.

But for those who are saddened by the loss of someone who is good to London and the soccer community, take heart.

"I'm keeping the restaurant," said Pribil, talking excitedly about his opportunity. "We bought it because that's our security. In sports you never know. You can last only a couple of months.

"I want the ties to London. I don't know if this will be for six months or five years. It's great right now for as long as it lasts, but whenever it comes to the end, we want to keep the lines open to London."

This has not come to Pribil by accident. Pribil has travelled many roads in search of a way to remain involved with the game, including purchasing a team. The owner of Marila Pribram team heard of Pribil's interest.

"This is something I wanted to do," said Pribil. "Over the last two years there were certain negotiations to buy teams but nothing worked out.

"This time it was the right place, the right time. . . . This gentleman, he is older and quite ill and he's operated the team all by himself. So he decided to just hold the position of owner. He just wants to come to the game, have a coffee and that's it."

Pribil was the major reason Paul Munster, London City scoring star, wound up playing in the Czech Republic last year. Munster is now playing in the Swedish second division.

Pribil concluded negotiations recently in the Czech Republic. While he was there, his team won its first two games of the season and is tied for first place. Marila Pribram is the former Dukla Praha team, a team that, during the Communist regime days of Czechoslovakia, won the league championship many times.

"It's a long season, but looking at the team in first place, that's exciting," he said. "The top two teams play in the Champions League and wouldn't that be something."

Pribil will return to the Czech Republic as soon as he can, along with his family. He is having knee surgery next week and after his recovery, will be heading overseas.

"I couldn't do this without the support of my family," he said. "They are going to miss London and the family friends, but they understand the opportunity this is." And just how happy it will make him.


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