February 15, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – On the eve of open trials, Saul Garcia sat with head coach Steve Simonson to talk about the Highlanders and Canadian Soccer.
Here is what came out of this meeting:
SG: Two things Canada could do better to improve its Men’s Soccer
SS: Kids need to play on their own more, and we need to create clear goals and incentives for kids to stay in the sport. The MLS has helped over the last few years but we also need to put emphasis on intermediate goals like University Soccer and Leagues like the PDL.
SG: Would you say that we are doing our part to help Canadian Soccer?
SS: Yes, for players in Victoria the Highlanders should be something to aspire to, one of these incentives to stay in the game I was talking about. It is the highest level of play on the Island and you get to play in front of your Hometown’s crowd.
SG: You say Hometown, so how many players in our roster actually hail from Vancouver Island?
SS: Last year our roster was composed with 70 % of players being from Vancouver Island.
SG: How long have you been with the Highlanders?
SS: I have been with the team since the start, first as an assistant coach. I have been the head coach since half way through the last season.
SG: How is the team looking for this year?
SS: We have a core group of players from last year when we were very close to making the play-offs. The squad had potential to be better than the standing at the end. We want to improve every year but not by dismantling the team; rather we need to keep building for years to come.
SG: For Steve Simonson, how should soccer be played?
SS: Love the passing game, with high tempo, sometimes you have to adjust but that is the base from which I build my teams. I like to give my players freedom to make decisions and go forward.
SG: Our division looks tough…
SS: On paper our division is very difficult, so we will be tested in every game we play. Every game whether it is against the first place team or the last place team is as important as the last one.
SG: Do you have any tune-up matches before the season begins?
SS: A one day tournament at Peninsula College and games against the University of Washington and Seattle University on April 27. Other preparation games will be set in April as the squad arrives back in Victoria.
SG: Any activity soon for our fans to come check out?
SS: UBC Okanagan is coming here next weekend, our u-18 prospects will play against them Saturday and a team composed by trial-ists/first team pool/ prospects will play them on Sunday at Goudy Field.
SG: Speaking about trials, what do you expect from them?
SS: Approach is to build a team that we believe in, that we are confident in, if we draw a player from an open trial that is a bonus. We have found players before in an open trial and it lets us know if there are kids in the area that want to play for the Highlanders.
SG: Is there an expiry date on a development player?
SS: Leagues like the PDL can extend a player’s career, help late bloomers and give opportunity to players that otherwise would be told they are too old. Because of our age restriction we need to look at the longevity of a player but the quality of a player as a footballer and as a person has a lot to do with your decision of whom you pick for your team.
SG: Over all how are we doing?
Club is on the right path, good confidence to build on. The level is there to compete. We are a good team and we are eager to prove it.
Thank you Steve and cannot wait for our first home game at Royal Athletic Park.