Alex, thank you so much for taking the time to allow us to conduct this interview – to start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a 28 year old local Vancouver native. I am married to my beautiful German wife Sylvia who I meet when playing for FSV Mainz05. I enjoy everything football and seem to can't get enough of it!
Can you expand a bit on your playing and coaching background?
Growing up playing in the lower mainland I was coached by those who still play a huge role in developing today's youth. Dale Mitchell, Nick Dasovic, Alan Errington, Shawn Flanagan, Derek Possee, Mark Parker, Michael Findlay, Shawn Lowther, Steven Hart, Ray Clark, Sean Fleming, and on and on.
As a Vancouverite, I held great pride in playing for Canada in the youth world cup on home soil in 2007 and furthermore for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
I attended The University of Portland and enjoyed 3 amazing years with the Pilots. I am a Portland Pilot for life!
After Portland I took my football to Germany. Fußball ist das Leben in Deutschland! It was an amazing learning experience being coached by some of the world's best like Thomas Tuchel. I signed with Bundesliga 3 club Sportfreunde Siegen at age 20 and was later signed by FSV Mainz05. That year the club got promoted to the Bundesliga 1 and they have still not looked back. A top notch club, I have the outright most respect for how they deal with their professional players and youth!
My Coaching started in Germany at Mainz05 rivals 1.FC Kaiserslautern. A top notch club that took me in as a young learning coach and gave me so much. I conducted my UEFA B in Germany and During the licensing course I knew that I had become addicted to coaching. Currently taking my UEFA A licence I have found a deeper passion for the tactical side of the game.
Currently I coach the 2003 intake Fusion FC Boys as well as Quest University Mens Soccer Team.
How did you get into coaching – what was the defining moment that made you realise this is what you wanted to do?
When I finished playing in 2012 I had some time to think about what was next as I was recovering from injury. I knew I may never play again and that was the case. It took just a simple goals exercise, as you would do in grade school and I jotted down the below...
My personal and professional goals are grounded by a commitment to giving back to young athletes by being a role model coach and assisting to spur their future careers.
Who was / is your biggest influence?
The biggest influences have to be my teammates throughout my playing career and now it's the players I get to coach.
Value the game for the people you played it with. That is the magic of football, the people, the teammates, the family.
"Value the game for the people you played it with. That is the magic of football, the people, the teammates, the family."
Great line Alex! How do we instill that mindset into aspiring soccer players? Does it all come from coaching or is does it require team success to be realised?
Success as we know can be classified in many ways.
Building strong team core covenants and culture can drive success.
If there is true "Buy in" to the common goals then success comes naturally in many ways.
On a somewhat related note, do you think enough attention is being made towards the mental side of the game? We can have all the technically gifted young athletes in the world but if they don’t have situational awareness or the willingness to face adversity head on, have we missed the boat with our players?
No, I do not think our soccer culture has installed enough emphases on the mental/physiological side of the game.
It is imperative to player growth.
As an example, while in Germany playing for Mainz05 nearly every player had a personal mental physiological coach. In comparison's to when I was with the whitecaps, I could count on one hand the number of players on the roster that had a personal mental physiological coach.
It may be that of our culture to not open up and grow though mentorship or professional physiological support.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges Technical Directors face today?
Finding the needed time to properly support every player's development.
It appears that we are identifying players at younger ages nowadays but what about those that develop at a later stage – late teens – are they missing out?
I believe the opportunity is there if the youth student-athlete is eager to excel. The doors are open with in the pathway if the fit is right.
What about coaches? Are there enough opportunities in your view in Canada to become a professional coach?
The game has grown and so has the need for more professional coaches.
It is important that we focus on the development of keen young Canadian coaches that are invested in the youth and will be involved for the long run.
Thanks again Alex for your time – one last question - fantasy moment: You are in charge of overseeing player development throughout the country and money is no object – what is the one thing you would do/change to improve the system in place now?
If I had to pick one thing it would have to be the need for professional coaching to start at younger ages. Currently, the majority of professional coaching positions in Canada start at U13. That is quite late in a players development to implement serious improvement.
Also, more Futsal being played by our youth!