Passionate soccer people and great soccer facilities lured Ezra Cremers to Penticton.
The former executive director and head coach of the Shuswap Football Club fled to the Okanagan for those two reasons.
He will take on the same role, replacing former technical director Chris Bennett, who returned to the Lower Mainland. Cremers likes the people and the board of SOYSA, and feels there are good coaches to develop players for the club. He also likes the possibilities with the Adidas Sportsplex and King’s Park.
SOYSA wants to be able to provide the sport to kids year round. They also want to have solid coaches and have someone who can teach their coaches to become better.
“Without that you can’t develop a good program,” said Patrocinio, who met Cremers, when he invited Patrocinio and Penticton Soccer Club board member Manuel Borba to Salmon Arm for a camp he ran.
“The opportunities are endless for this organization and this town with regards to soccer development,” said Cremers, who once trained with the junior Vancouver Whitecaps, Mancester City affiliate and played for the UVic Vikes.
SOYSA president Tony Patrocinio brought Cremers on board because he feels they share the same philosophies.
“He’s very keen, gets along with the kids,” said Patrocinio, who added Cremers has great knowledge of the game. “He’s really good with PR and being able to express himself. He was young and fresh. We thought that would be someone to take our club in the direction we want to go in.”
Patrocinio said SOYSA wants to set up an academy and Cremers has the experience to do that. Cremers runs Ezra Soccer, which involves three levels: Ezra Soccer School, Ezra Soccer Academy and Ezra Soccer Excelsior.
They also like his background with Dutch soccer. Cremers has trained with pro team Rotterdam Excelsior and its youth technical coach Marco van Lochem.
“We believe the Dutch are playing some of the best soccer in world,” said Patrocinio. “He has a connection there. That avenue will open up for our kids to go there.”
With the academy, SOYSA is targeting its competitive players who will be able to enhance their skills through team and personal training, as well as in class. Players can register for one day or as many as five depending on their goals.
The idea is to improve all aspects of the players’ game. Their goal with the academy is to model the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Cremers said they don’t want to mimic that, but feel they can have a similar blueprint because of the facilities.
“We have the passionate coaches,” he said. “We have the vision that Penticton one day could be on the map for soccer. I think what the hockey academy has done is fantastic.”
“We want to provide our kids with the best opportunity to succeed recreationally or at a high level,” said Patrocinio. “We can’t count on volunteers to do that anymore.”
During the spring, SOYSA had 2,300 kids registered and this fall they will have a full district program for under-11 to 18.
The academy signup deadline is Sept. 30.