Paul Holohan Joins To Build New Academy at Liverpool International So Cal
Paul Holohan has coached high-level, elite youth soccer in the Southern California area for years. A big fan of coaching education, Holohan believes asking questions and encouraging self-reflection are among the best tools a coach can use to develop players.
Paul Holohan always expects the best from his players, and himself. Believing that the game itself is the greatest teacher, Holohan has developed hundreds of youth soccer players in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy as well as in other elite training programs.
Now, Holohan is proud to join the Liverpool International Academy in SoCal as the Academy Director, responsible for building a new elite academy program, working with the club’s current teams which compete in SCDSL Discovery, CRL and the NPL, as well as recruiting top talent. Holohan has coached the professional and youth game as well as at the D1 and D2 collegiate level. With 120 youth soccer teams and a vibrant recreational soccer program with strong ties to the community, the next step for this club is a professionally run academy tier.
Born in Dublin, Ireland Holohan has been a Liverpool FC fan all his life — in fact, his whole family are fans of The Reds — and the famous EPL club’s never give up, unbelievable winning attitude is in his blood. Inspiring youth soccer players to be their best requires that depth of dedication as well and intelligence — and is far more challenging today than in the past when a coach’s focus was just on the Xs & Os.
“For me, at Liverpool International Academy So Cal, we are not only developing great footballers, but we are preparing them for life after soccer.”Paul Holohan, Academy Director – Liverpool International Academy So Cal
“I want our players to know that playing for Liverpool in SoCal is a great honor and I feel it is a great honor to work here too,” says Holohan.
Holohan holds a U.S. Soccer A License, as well as UEFA A license. A proponent of coaching education, Holohan earned his A License first in 2002 and took the inaugural USSF A Youth course when it was introduced in 2016. With a holistic approach to player development, Holohan prepares players to play at the highest level — collegiate and professional.
“I can’t wait to get started with Paul. He has a clear vision of how to help us to achieve ‘elite status’ and the knowledge and experience to back it up,” says Tim Woodcock, CEO Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal. “Bringing in coaches of this caliber is a clear statement of our intent to be the best club in So Cal.”
“Our future is really exciting. We have assembled an unbelievable coaching staff. No other club is as committed to coach and player development as we are.”Tim Woodcock, CEO Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal
SoccerToday Interview with Paul Holohan
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the first step to building a new top-notch youth soccer academy?
Paul Holohan: First of all, the coaching staff has to be player development based over team development. Developing a team is about winning games. Focusing on individual player development is a player-centric approach — so we need coaches that share this philosophy.
How a coach teaches is so important — and coaching has totally changed in the last few years.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was the approach to coaching before?
Paul Holohan: Before it was a tougher approach, it was hard. Teaching is so different now. Society has changed. I believe in a holistic approach with teaching around the game.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the role of a coach?
Paul Holohan: The role of a coach is to be a mentor.
We are teachers. We are just in a different classroom.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the greatest challenge when coaching younger players?
Paul Holohan: If the goal is to develop world-class players then I believe we are missing the focus on technical development. We need to develop our younger players in the technical areas of the game because that allows a player to master the game at the highest level.
Physicality and strength will come later for a lot of young soccer players, the concentration when they are young should be on developing their technique and ball mastery so they are properly prepared to master the game at the highest level as they get older.
As we prepare to build our Academy, we have to make sure our players are masters of the ball.
Another challenge is the whole emphasis on winning in American society is still prevalent, and winning is important — I love to win. But winning cannot come at the expense of development if we want to succeed — to have kids love the game and our most elite players become talented professionals or play collegiate soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: At what age should kids start to learn game understanding?
Paul Holohan: It is never too young to learn from watching the game, but age 12 is when a player really needs to start understanding the game and developing his soccer IQ.
Diane Scavuzzo: What type of player based training do you recommend?
Paul Holohan: Game-based training. Training has to look like the game. I believe the game is the greatest teacher. I work to teach the game through the game.
Coaches have to get away from drills and develop technical skills in game scenarios.
Players must be allowed to fail in a positive environment. Giving players room to fail lets a player learn and understand why they did what they did — this is the teachable moment. We want players to see the challenges they face in the game, and prepare them with the tools and experience to make their best decisions.
To be a great footballer, it takes discipline, a high work ethic, concentration, mental strength, strong technical skills, and a good game understanding — and the desire to learn. Players must take ownership of their game and as coaches, we must encourage them to be responsible for their own performance.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why join Liverpool International Academy So Cal?
Paul Holohan: This area of the country is a hotbed of soccer. To build an Academy from the ground up is a phenomenal opportunity for me.
I have enormous respect for Tim. We hit it off right away and share a vision.
It is exciting what we can do together for the players. His style of management generates so much enthusiasm. Tim is in it for the long haul and is doing it for the right reasons — always thinking about the big picture and I admire this.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you become a Liverpool FC Fan?
Paul Holohan: I am from Dublin, Ireland and my family and I have supporters of Liverpool FC since before I could walk. I started playing soccer when I was four years old.
🔴 Oxlade-Chamberlain— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 24, 2020
🔴 Alexander-Arnold’s performance
🔴 Equalling the all-time top-flight records
Klopp insisted the Reds remain focused on the work still ahead of them after grinding out a 3-2 victory over @WestHam… https://t.co/TXDA7pZQO1
Diane Scavuzzo: What does the Liverpool Way mean to you?
Paul Holohan: It means total football. An energetic, enthusiastic attractive style of the game. When you watch Liverpool FC play, especially under the direction of their head coach Jurgen Klopp, you can’t help but get excited.
For more information, please visit the Liverpool International Academy in SoCal’s website