San Diego Surf Soccer Club’s Newest Import: Coach Mark Spooner
America is well known for welcoming talented English soccer coaches and many have shaped the development of the beautiful game in our country. Recently San Diego Surf Soccer Club hired Mark Spooner, a new coach from Birmingham City Football Club, England. Spooner will be coaching girls teams this season and looks forward to sharing his knowledge and passion for the game with players on this side of the Atlantic.
According to Surf Soccer Club’s Director of Coaching, Colin Chester, “Our goal is to be the #1 Club in the country and have the best coaches possible. I see a lot of people and receive a be-zillion emails a year with coaches looking for a job. Mark Spooner came here and knocked it out of the park. He was amazing. We are very happy to have Mark coaching here at Surf SC.” When asked about Spooner’s background, Colin said, “Mark played in the Crewe Alexandra Academy, which is one of the best Academies for developing players to the next level. Crewe has been developing EPL players for decades. Currently they have Ashley Westwood for Aston Villa and Nick Powell at Manchester United. A lot of the training exercises and soccer drills used at our club are based on the Crewe Alexandra Academy syllabus. Mark trained under Crewe’s long time Director of Coaching Dario Gradi who received the high honor of MBE – knighted by the Queen of England – for his service to football. It is really going to help with our coach’s education that Mark trained with these exercises as a player for five years.”
SoccerToday interviewed Spooner for more feedback on his move to Surf SC:
Diane Scavuzzo: Welcome to America’s eight largest city and certainly one of our country’s finest. How did you become a youth soccer coach at San Diego Surf Soccer Club?
Mark Spooner: I emailed all the local soccer clubs and got a lot of replies but was most excited when I spoke with Surf SC’s Director of Coaching, Colin Chester, who invited me to come to the Polo Fields and run a session. This club has a great reputation. I was thrilled when Colin watched the session and said, “we need you.”
Diane Scavuzzo: How long ago?
Mark Spooner: Just three weeks ago.
Diane Scavuzzo: Where were you before you came to San Diego?
Mark Spooner: I was with Birmingham City Football Club before I came to the USA.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you think Colin Chester hired you?
Mark Spooner: I think Colin liked the enthusiasm I brought, and my experience back home in the English Championship and the MLS. My background has given me a very good insight on how to successfully develop players.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you describe your coaching philosophy?
Mark Spooner: I like to run my training sessions at a very high intensity and inspire my players to improve.
I also believe in clear communication and have already spoken to my players’ parents about this coming soccer season. I told the parents that we are going to lose some games along the way because I want to teach the players how to play proper soccer.
The players are kids and they are going to make mistakes. I will never yell at them for making a mistake. Players do not learn from a coach yelling. I encourage them to make mistake.
It is important to give players positive reinforcement and encourage them to grow as players and develop their skills. I want to teach them to play soccer the right way. I think this approach is better long term.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think will be your biggest challenge coaching youth soccer?
Mark Spooner: The biggest problem in America right now is that parents did not play the game when they were young so you need to educate them as well as the players. Twenty years down the line you will not have this problem. It is hard to have parents sitting and watching the game and not understanding why the coach is doing something. Parents need as much education as kids.
My biggest challenge will be helping the parents understand what I am doing. All my parents have my cell phone. I encourage them to call and ask questions.
Every nationality has a winning mentality. I want to have players and parents put a hold on that. There is a place for this win at all cost mentality but it is when players are older.
Diane Scavuzzo: Is there more of an emphasis on winning in America than across the Atlantic.
Mark Spooner: Yes, especially at the younger ages.
The training for young players should be a romance – you want the players to fall in love with the game. At the age of 10, training should focus more on the development of skills. Placing an importance on winning is only done at the older ages when winning starts to count. At the younger ages of player development it is all about training to become a better player.
Diane Scavuzzo: Tell us about winning …
Personally, winning is anytime you can affect a young person’s life or career. That is really winning and it is amazing. It is all about helping players realize their dream. I have been very fortunate to coach some great players.
In 2011, I was Chicago Fire PDL’s head coach and then it was realizing the dream of playing at Sporting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open. The experience was great and those memories will last a lifetime.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did you dream of becoming a professional soccer player?
Mark Spooner: I wanted to and I came quite close as a player but I never quite made the grade. I came up through one of the best academies in England, Crewe Alexandra Academy, but I was not quick enough to play professional.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were you like when you were ten years old?
Mark Spooner: I was mad about soccer. My dad was a pro and I was around that environment and had a ball at my feet all the time.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would you like your players to know?
Mark Spooner: I want my players to know that they are going to learn something every session and to come prepared to do their best.
Diane Scavuzzo: Just curious, what do you think is the difference between coaching girls and boys?
Mark Spooner: Girls are more technical. It was when I was Director of Coaching in Michigan that I first realized that girls can listen better than boys. The girls really try to take the concepts and grasp what we are trying to teach. I am very impressed with how much the GU10 players have already learned. They are a great team to train and so are my older players. I am very excited about coaching these teams and the upcoming season.
Just last weekend, Spooner’s GU10 team won the prestigious 2013 Blues Cup with a strong finish. Chester was proud of Spooner’s leadership and said, “Mark Spooner made a great first impression with the GU10 team this weekend. This was his first time coaching the team in a tournament. His team won the Blues Cup with a playing style that was pleasing to watch.”
|Mark Spooner’s GU10 Academy I Team, Blues Cup Champions|