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Interview with Kenneth Rabb, Vikings' new Recreational Director

1. How do you think you will contribute to the club through your new position? Do you think your international experience will enhance your work at Vikings?

It’s never really or should be about a singular individual.  Certainly, my international background has fostered a coaching methodology that defines me.  And this will allow me to introduce new concepts and an approach to coaching.  However, equally it’s about what the Viking community will teach me.  And when an individual and group is willing to draw upon the benefits of one another, the player becomes the “winner”.

2. What value do you believe recreational soccer offers to players or parents? What makes fostering the recreational levels so important for the overall game of soccer?

For most players, recreational soccer program is their first introduction to the sport of soccer. Simply, a recreational program is the grassroot, bedrock of a successful club.  Consequentially, a player’s introduction at this level, must be in an encouraging manner, that will allow the player to learn and love the game.  Soccer is an easy game to play.  It is a very free flowing game which allows players to have ample opportunities to make decisions with the ball; each player is a quarterback.  The very nature of soccer, if properly introduced, will foster a player’s development and love for the game.  At the recreational and even at the competitive level, we need to always remember it is “all about the players”. 

Young players dream of being the next Alex Morgan or Lionel Messi.  As parents, we understand that only a few can play at the highest level.  However, for a youth player there is absolutely nothing wrong about chasing this goal and trying to reach their highest potential.  However, we always need to remember we play soccer for the fun of the sport.  And recreational soccer is where it all begins and ends for all players.

3. What does your soccer career /past look like?

• High School player in the state of New York
• 4 years as a Division III soccer player
• 2 years as a player in the Ohio-Indiana amateur, semi-professional league
• 2 years as a player in a Japan amateur league
• 1 year coaching HS soccer in Norway
• 30 years coaching male and female soccer teams, U12-18 in Japan
• 15 years Director of a youth soccer U5-U11 program in Japan
• 3 years coaching as the 06’ girls’ team at San Ramon FC and 1 year 10’ girls’ team
• 3 years Recreational U5-U8 Age Group Coordinator at San Ramon FC

4. How has your past as a teacher influenced your approach to coaching?

We are all lifetime learners.  To be involved in the teacher profession has had a profound influence on my coaching career.  Specifically, teaching has reinforced the importance of organization, listening and delivery.  These are key elements in a coach, without them, you cannot be successful.

5. What is one of your most memorable soccer moments? Either a game you played, coached or even watched. What about this memory stands out to you?

This is an easy one to answer.  For me, family is everything!  Relating this to football/soccer, my most “memorable moment” was having the opportunity to coach my son.  We have a very tight bond, best friends, and coaching him only fostered an even stronger relationship.  

6. Do you have any methods you find helpful or a philosophy you follow when conveying abstract ideas and tactics to your young players?

This is a good question and is something I discuss often with colleagues.  I break this into three components.  First, your presentation of an ‘abstract idea’ has to be simple enough, so that it is understandable to all.  This means one needs to be cognitive of the fact that players learn differently.  Some players who are auditory will learn best through listening, while others are visual and need to see the exercise, while many are kinesthetic learners who need to complete the exercise to understand.  In the end, coaches must address how different players learn when introducing an abstract tactical concept.  Failure to address each learner will diminish the training result.  Second, to maintain interest with an abstract idea in a tactical exercise, it has to be challenging;  otherwise, you will not maintain interest.  Lastly, you must be willing to evaluate the session – was the tactical exercise successful?  Otherwise, as a coach you cannot progress.  I like to ask myself, are players leaving training with a smile on their fun and a desire to learn more?

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