Written by Ryan McQuillan
May 24, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Highlanders are spreading their knowledge and passion of soccer around.
Several members of the Highlanders Professional Development League team are volunteering their time to help out in the organization’s developmental levels.
The development program consists of two groups, U-10 to U-12 and U-13 to U-17. Players are taught fundamental soccer skills as well as strategy by a very experienced and capable staff led by Neil Sedgwick, the program’s director.
Riley O’Neill, Blair Sturrock, Wes Barrett and Elliot Mitrou are all taking part in training youth players and helping them get to the next stage of their development. The Highlanders’ youth development program has around 250 kids enrolled, so there is a demand for coaches these days.
Sturrock is a forward, O’Neill and Barrett are both midfielders and Elliot Mitrou plays keeper.
Riley O’Neill believes in the Highlanders’ brand of football and says the coaching is “mostly implementing the football we want them to play. We want them to understand and learn the game the way we see football played. It’s been good working with Steve and Neil and their expertise coaching on the fields. I’m enjoying the progression we’re seeing with the kids and the club, on and off the field.”
O’Neill and Sturrock have both played overseas. O’Neill was in the Finnish MYPA league last season before becoming a free agent and Sturrock has played in the Scottish and British leagues. They have a lot of knowledge and experience that they can pass down to young players; as do Barrett and Mitrou. Both Barrett and Mitrou play for the Vikes as well and have been a part of a CIS National Championship team when UVic won it in 2011.
“It’s a great thing,” said Head Coach Steve Simonson, “not only for those players to be able to look at the game from a coaches perspective but also to allow the younger players to rub shoulders with experienced, accomplished players.”