Last Oct. 4 was my first day of being an assistant coach under Hollandia Soccer Club. I volunteered this season for a U13 team, Hollandia Tapia. Nathan, our son, plays for Hollandia Ajoboru, the other U13 team under HSC. They would play against each other in a club league since tournaments are still on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The teams are named after the person coaching them. Nathan team’s head coach is Henry Ajoboru, while the squad where I am one of the assistants is handled by Hernan Tapia. Percy Hoff is the club director of coaching and player development and brings in more than three decades of technical and training expertise to HSC after guiding University of Saskatchewan to two provincial titles and helping the Huskies gain a spot in the Nationals in Edmonton and Winnipeg in the ’90s.
Coach Percy, who’s also a part of the training staff that prepared Canadian national youth teams, holds coaching certification from the United States, Brazil, and the Netherlands. HSC, one of the most successful clubs in the province of Saskatchewan, was formed by Dutch immigrants in the 1950s that is why they also adopted orange, the colors of the national team of the Netherlands, in their uniforms. George Vanderploeg helped found the club, as all their players were Dutch settlers in Saskatoon.
Austin Boryski, a former Husky and a product of the HSC youth program, is the club head coach. His five-year stint as a Huskie gave the team the 2014 Canada West Conference championships and earned them a spot on the CIS nationals.
HSC coaches and officials are truly experienced and knowledgeable with the sport and I need to keep up. I have been watching YouTube videos to increase my knowledge in soccer—like positions of the players and other skills. I have the basic idea of soccer, or football as known in the whole world, as I used to cover and write stories about the sport, but there is still much to learn and I hope to gain more knowledge from coaches Percy and Austin.
And last Sunday, the two other members of the coaching staff and I helped coach Percy in conducting the first practice of the two teams that have 10 players each. Since most of the kids have played in previous leagues and knew the basics of the game, we only did some passing drills. Coach Percy showed to us—the players and the coaches—the proper way of keeping yourself open, receiving the ball from a pass from your teammate, and attacking toward the goal of your opponent.
Coach Percy explained to the kids that your foot must resemble a hockey stick when receiving the ball, while each player needs to keep moving in the field and must keep an eye on the position of the defender before receiving the pass from their teammate.
The structure coach Percy wanted to set up was part of an extensive training course (Canadian Child Coaching License) that he and coach Austin completed last year. According to coach Percy, the course provided a full methodology that is focused on soccer technicalities as well as personality development. They grouped the club into three: children (U7-U11), youth (U13-U15), and adolescents (U17-U19).
The first practice was designed not only to introduce the coaches and players to each other but also help educate the kids on the latest techniques of the game. Our next practice will be on Oct. 8 and coaches Percy and Austin will let the other coaches conduct the training sessions while they act as observers.
This is a new adventure and challenge for me with football (soccer) now being my second favorite sport after badminton. My appreciation for soccer further increased as I watched the skill level of Nathan improve. And with me learning more from the coaches along with the certification and training courses that I am going to attend to, I can help Nathan and others further develop their skills. So, challenge accepted!
Jon Perez (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Jon Perez is a former reporter in the CNMI where he covered various beats (sports, business, community, and politics). He is now based in Saskatoon, Canada.