Spotlight Interview With NWSL’s Breakers Head Coach Matt Beard
The 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season kicked off last week with nationwide coverage provided by Lifetime highlighting a new era for the growth of women’s soccer.
SoccerToday spoke with Boston Breakers head coach Matt Beard as we present the latest editorial highlighting our professional women’s soccer clubs in the United States.
NWSL Soccer News: As the third week of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season approaches, the Boston Breakers are seeking to record their second consecutive win in front of their home crowd at Jordan Field.
The Breakers boast a young, talented squad that is ready to challenge some of the top teams in the NWSL. Boston reloaded during the 2017 NWSL College Draft, selecting four of the top ten picks in the first round.
The club’s 2017 draft class included the number one pick in Rose Lavelle who has also shined brightly in recent weeks with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
The Boston Breakers are led by head coach Matt Beard who is dedicated to developing a program that competes at the highest level. Beard most recently coached Liverpool Ladies FC in the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL), guiding the team to back-to-back FAWSL titles in 2013 and 2014. Prior to his career in Liverpool, he served as the first team manager of Chelsea Ladies FC, where he spent three seasons (2009-2012).
SoccerToday spoke with Beard on his aspirations for the 2017 campaign and his background in the game.
Diane Scavuzzo: As the coach of the NWSL Boston Breakers since 2016, what are your goals for your team this NWSL season?
Matt Beard: We just want to be as competitive as we can be. We are taking it one game at a time and want to improve on each performance and get stronger as the season goes on.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your team’s biggest competition?
Matt Beard: There is no easy game in this league. I think our results in Week 1 and 2 have proved this already.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for in a player?
Matt Beard: The first thing I look at is what the person is like. What motivates that person, are they a good teammate — we look to see if they can fit into our style of play and are they better than what we already have.
Diane Scavuzzo: What tips for success can you share with players who want to go pro?
The biggest thing I find in the U.S. — you speak to a player about their best position and they have numerous. That isn’t a bad thing, but I always ask well what is your best position?
It’s good to be versatile, but I would recommend mastering their best position and they can then learn others as they go.
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes you a great coach?
Matt Beard: That will be one for my players! I just work extremely hard to prepare my teams as best I can.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about you surprises people the most?
Matt Beard: I’ve been lucky in my career to work with some great people/players.
The sacrifices these players make to go to the very top is humbling.
It’s amazing to watch a group of people stick together while having individual goals. But for any player to achieve the goals, they need their teammates.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Matt Beard: I’ve had some great memories in my career, there’s not really one that stands out more than the others. I’ve still got so much to learn. I hope to keep developing as time goes on and hopefully there will be plenty more accomplishments.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of women’s soccer in America?
Matt Beard: I’ve watched in England the youth programs get stronger and stronger in the past decade. That was something especially at Liverpool that I was involved in. The players at a young age in Europe are getting a better soccer education than they are in America. The new U.S. Soccer Development Academy will go a long way to help solving that problem but they will take at least 5 to 10 years.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is the NWSL thriving when all other women’s soccer leagues have failed?
Matt Beard: I think all over the world now women’s soccer is going from strength to strength.
The NWSL in particular is an exciting product/brand to come and watch.
There are always goals and goal-scoring chances in games, which makes it a great for the fans to watch.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the differences between coaching in England’s FA and in the NWSL?
Matt Beard: I feel the game is slower in England but probably more tactical. Where in America the game is more open and end-to-end, which is more exciting.
Diane Scavuzzo: How closely do you work with your reserve team(s)?
Matt Beard: It’s difficult to get to see the games as they play when the pro team does. But we have reserve team players train with the pro team, and I’m always in contact with the reserve team head coach.
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspires you?
Matt Beard: My family. I want my wife and children to be proud of me.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who are your mentors?
Matt Beard: Keith Boanas and Ian McDonald from a young age. They are both great coaches. As I’ve gone over the years, I’ve been lucky to interact with some other great coaches such as Brendan Rodgers, Micheal Beale and Alex Inglethorpe.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do ever miss living in London?
Matt Beard: Not really. We were in the northwest of England for 4 years before moving to Boston. We of course miss our family and friends but they are always out visiting us anyway! We are very happy and settled in Boston.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can be done to encourage more young girls to dream of becoming professional players?
Matt Beard: Tough question! In England sport isn’t as big as it is in America. They say the best years are four to six from a technical standpoint. I would always encourage my kids to do what they want. I wouldn’t pressure them to do anything that they don’t want to do. It is their life, and I just want to be there for them.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think is the most important life lesson that you’ve learned so far?
Matt Beard: Life is short. Just make the most of what you have and embrace it. My job has taken me to different places, different countries etc. There are always going to be highs and lows in anything you do, but you have to continue to be positive and as long as you work, generally things should be okay.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your greatest obstacle to success?
Matt Beard: I try to surround myself with good people.
I know where I am strong, but I also know where I am weak. You can’t be good at everything.
My backroom teams are so important to me and it’s key to bring in the right people to compliment each other to create the best environment for your players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What team do you root for behind closed doors?
Matt Beard: The team I support in England are a side in The Football League (League One) called Millwall Football Club. Off course being in Boston the MLS team cheer for is the New England Revolution!
The Breakers host Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, April 29th, with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. ET at Jordan Field.