GROWING UP WITH A DREAM — The Early Years: The Pathway From Age 9 to 14
What makes a youth soccer player go the distance and earn a pro contract with a European professional soccer club? It is often the impact of his coach as a youth player. This is the story of Southern California’s Luca Fava who always dreamed big and worked hard.
Luca Fava grew up playing soccer at the Irvine Strikers FC, a top youth soccer club in Southern California, and always had a ball at his feet from the time he could walk. Now, at the age of 16-years-old, Fava has just signed a professional youth contract to play in Europe for Germany’s VfL Bochum 1848 U17.
During his years playing youth soccer at Strikers FC, Fava was coached by Roy Chingirian for many seasons. With the Strikers for over 10 years, Chingirian is now the Director of Coaching. He is also the Assistant Coach for the professional men’s soccer club, California United Strikers FC and has inspired hundreds of players to reach for their dreams.
“When I met Luca Fava, I could tell that he was competitive and that he loved the pressure of the moment, whether it be the final shot /penalty kick or a free-kick,” said Chingirian. “He has always shown great love and passion for the sport of soccer.”
“I knew from the beginning he was not scared of failing.”Roy Chingirian, Director of Coaching Irvine Strikers
“Coach Roy, as a coach, is simply passionate. His passion for the club, for the team, and for every individual boy is incomparable,” said Luca Fava from Germany.
“Roy prepares players well from a young age to deal with adversity and constructive criticism so that when they’re older, it doesn’t drive them away from the game,” said Luca Fava.
“No matter your talent, Coach Roy will get the most potential out of each player.”Luca Fava
“Even if that means having to be tough on them,” added the young professional soccer player. “But it’s not him being mean, it’s his passion for his players to succeed — which many don’t realize, and choose to not understand.
According to Luca, Coach Roy’s focused training helps players improve their game and separate themselves as a top player in America, and even become a prospect in Europe.
“Coach Roy gives everything for his players. Nothing satisfies him more than seeing his players succeed.”Luca Fava
According to Fava’s parents, Luca was recruited by Roy Chingirian when he was 9 years-old after the coach watched the young player compete in a tournament.
“Roy stuck his neck out for Luca when his team already had a full roster,” said Gianni Fava, Luca’s dad. “Roy insisted that the club take Luca and said he was a player he couldn’t pass on.”
“From there, the journey began. Roy saw something in Luca and believed he could get the best out of him,” said Gianni Fava. “He could be very hard on Luca but he would also put his arm around him and tell him how proud he was of him.”
“Roy saw something from day 1 and he insisted that Luca did everything he could to get to where he is today,” said Marienelle Fava, Luca’s mom.
“Roy wasn’t going to let Luca be average. He would only accept the best and that’s something that is part of Luca’s DNA today.”Gianni Fava
“Luca works harder than anyone and is willing to take on any challenge and is not scared of failure,” said Chingirian. “Luca is a natural leader and in his second year with the club, he became captain of my 04-05 team, he then went on to be the captain of the 04 Academy team.”
Even back then I knew Luca would either go on and play soccer for a big-time college program or go professional.Roy Chingirian, Director of Coaching Irvine Strikers
“As a youth player, Luca’s challenges were that he was so ambitious and fearless that he would force situations instead of letting them come to him. But in a way, that is also a part of what makes him a great player,” said Chingirian.
“He is a great role model. A parent once called him a Culture Carrier and I really like that Luca was always willing to give back to the younger players at the club and show them the Strikers FC way.”
“My favorite memory with Luca is the day we won the Man City Cup in PKs. Luca first ran to celebrate with his teammates, but immediately after, he was the first player to run to me to celebrate, and said, ‘We did it, coach.’ That meant the world to me. And, both Luca and I were proud to win something that big with our club.”
When asked what Fava need help in the most, Chingirian responded by being confident in him. “I helped Luca the most with my confidence in him. I am so proud I was able to coach and know Luca.
“I am honored to have been a part of his journey and I am not surprised about how far his hard work has taken him and know he is going even further.”Roy Chingirian, Director of Coaching Irvine Strikers
“I wish nothing but the best for you, Luca, I love you like a little brother and thank you for all the great memories you have given me,” added Chingirian.
When asked, how would you describe Fava, Chingirian said, “I’m very passionate … Especially during the game. But when the game is over, I’m the first one to say good game and I used to make sure that I would hi-5 everyone from the opposing team. Even as a young player, Luca was the same as me. Luca is so competitive yet when the game is over, he always showed great sportsmanship.”
“My passion doesn’t stop with just my players — it goes for every player I’ve watched grow up on the soccer fields, and I am including players from other clubs,” said Chingirian.”
“It is important to me, and it is a big part of my personal rules as a coach, to let players from other teams know how well they played, or how good they are.”Roy Chingirian, Director of Coaching Irvine Strikers
“I have great relationships with tons of players from outside Irvine Strikers. I’m passionate about US soccer and I believe our country has the talent to one day compete on any world stage,” said Chingirian.
While Don Ebert, Strikers’ long time Director of Coaching also coached the talented youth, Chingirian was Fava’s team coach from U10 to U14.