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Vikings' New Program Director, Jose

How do you think you will contribute to the Club through your new position?

I hope to bring a lot of passion, enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication to my new position within this club that I love so much. I also hope to contribute with new ideas that will continue the tradition of excellence Vikings has always strived for while at the same time showing that we can adapt to a changing landscape and be the leaders of innovation within the soccer community that we’ve always been.

When you think of Vikings, what do you think of?

When I think of Vikings I think of family. I came to this club as a 21-year-old straight out of college and was immediately welcomed by everyone in the club. Libby and Toby have been my mentors the entire time, but they have become more than that. They have been like my parents and have been with me every step of the way during my journey with Vikings. That’s a sentiment that I believe a lot of people in the club would agree with. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to work with a great group of experienced coaches that I’ve had the honor to learn from. Every one of them has shown to truly care about the player’s experience and growth and it’s something that I value greatly. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with and I really buy into the idea that we are a family.

Microsoccer is one that is very special to SF Vikings as we help run the league together with the city. Why is it so important for SF Vikings to nurture our young players from the early ages? There's an opinion that maybe it's too early to get started with soccer. What do you have to say about the mindset of people that believe this to be true?

Player development has always been and will continue to be the most important thing for Vikings and that starts with instilling a love for the game at a young age. The best way to do this is to make soccer fun and player-centric. Microsoccer is great at this because school based teams are the heart and soul of the league so players learn to associate playing soccer with their friends which is always more fun. In regards to the player-centric part, we try to encourage that through small sided 4 v 4 games which means more time on the ball for each player. We also encourage coaches and parents to allow the players to make their own decisions during games instead of instructing them throughout. Combined these things create a fun and positive learning environment for players and prevents them from getting “burnt out” quickly. As for the opinion that it’s too early to get started with soccer, I personally don’t agree with that. Soccer is a game of creative problem solving and it’s never too early to start learning how to do that. I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old and although my experience is anecdotal, I think playing from such a young age helped me develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What is one of your most memorable soccer moments growing up? Either a game you played, coached, or even watched. What about this memory stands out to you? Has this affected your outlook on either soccer or coaching?

Some of my most memorable soccer moments growing up involved playing soccer with my neighborhood friends. We played anywhere and everywhere we could and used anything at our disposal to make it work. We used to play in our front yards or on the street and used our jackets as goal posts. We definitely got in our fair share of trouble getting kicked off our neighbor’s yards, accidentally hitting cars and setting off the alarms, and breaking windows (sorry mom and dad). If we wanted to use an actual field with goals, we would make the 45-minute walk to the local community college and play there. Looking back, we went through a lot together, but we did it all for the love of the game.

When did you begin playing soccer, do you wish you had started earlier? Do you have a favorite team you played for?

I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old. My dad played soccer his entire life and some of my earliest soccer memories involved me going to watch his games. I used to play with the other player’s kids at halftime during his games. I also used play on a daily basis with my grandfather growing up so soccer really has been a huge part of my life. My favorite team that I played for was probably my 5th grade school team. The team was coached by my favorite teacher and I got the opportunity to play with some of my best friends. Regardless of whether we won or lost it was bound to be a good time. It can’t get any better than that.

What was your favorite part of soccer practice, and what was your favorite part about games? Orange slices at halftime don’t count!

My favorite part of practice was always the scrimmage at the end. When I was growing up a big chunk of practice was still dedicated to drills and activities that focused more on fitness and less on ball work. I hated running for the sake of running, but put a ball at my feet and I can run all day. That mindset has definitely stuck with me as a coach. My favorite part of games was having my family come out and watch me play because I always knew no matter what I had people cheering me on from the sidelines.

How do you envision the future of Vikings events? Will you have programs designed to accommodate stricter regulations?

I think re-structuring our programs to meet the current challenges we face is going to be essential. I anticipate some of the changes we’ll have to make are going follow the changes made to this year’s summer camp such as smaller groups, a fixed coaching rotation, masks for everyone and daily disinfecting of equipment. I think some of these changes might stick around even after we “return to normal”, whatever that looks like.

How does it feel to be at the event/program after you’ve put so much time and effort into making it happen?

It’s one of the most rewarding feelings there is. Every time I drive by Marina Green or walk around Golden Gate Park and see the hundreds of kids playing Microsoccer with their parents cheering them on it makes me very happy because I know that I helped make that happen. When we host the Dutch 4v4 Series up at Paul Goode we receive hundreds of participants on a weekly basis and we always get parents that are very appreciative of our efforts to put on this free event for the kids. One of the things that I always remember fondly was when a school team sent me pictures that the kids drew to thank me for organizing the league. It’s small gestures like those that make all the hard work with it.

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

In the time I’ve been here I’ve learned that the best thing to do sometimes is to just keep it simple and allow the kids the opportunity to figure it out on their own. Guided questions tend to work well and allow kids to develop their own critical thinking skills rather than to just accept instructions at face value. I always stress to my players that failing and making mistakes is okay because in my opinion that is the best way to learn.

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