A Coach In The U.S. spotlights international coaches who have started successful careers in the U.S. with YESsoccer.
YESsoccer’s Chris Solomons is one of twenty-two candidates recognized by Major League Soccer for using soccer as a tool to make a positive change in their community. He has been announced as a finalist for the 2017 MLS Works Community MVP Contest presented by Wells Fargo.
Chris has been lauded for his work as Program Manager and Community Ambassador for YESsoccer in the Chicago area.
Chris tells YEScoach ID Director Chris Andrew how he made it in America.
Tell us about your background and how you got into coaching?
My family moved from London to a small town in Scotland called Erskine, Just outside Glasgow. My interest in sports came out of my motivation to make friends at my new school. Everyone played sports in my new school and I adopted the culture to fit in. Not long after, I joined a soccer team and started planning school soccer matches and events with friends and local neighborhood children. As I got older, my interest in leading community activities grew and I began volunteering to support local sport events for children. Around the age of 17, I started to consider sports as a career, so I enrolled into a college course for sports development and coaching.
Why did you choose to coach in the U.S.?
It was an opportunity for me to travel and to begin exploring the possibilities for myself. I was 18, and I decided to work in North Carolina for 4 months coaching soccer. I was seeking an adventure, new situations for myself that would bring new experiences and challenges. I suppose, I was looking to get out of my comfort zone, to find my own feet and to begin discovering my own capabilities.
What were your goals when you first joined YES?
I joined YES after speaking with Chris Andrew and listening to the plans for a new department, Soccer In The Community, in affiliation with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. It was the 'white canvas' project I was looking for; an opportunity to play an integral role in the development of a community focused initiate with high aspirations and goals for the foreseeable future. This also gave me the right opportunity to move back to the US. My personal goal was to simply learn as much as possible and to be involved with everything I could. I was here to learn and to test and challenge myself.
What is next for you and your own personal development in the U.S.?
My personal goal is to continue learning how to improve the programs and services available to communities through programs such as the Community Ambassador. Sport and soccer is a universal art form, inclusive in nature, and a language that needs to be communicated repeatedly, to create sustainable change. I want to connect with more people and organizations throughout all walks of life, to share our resources, expertise and experience to create new environments where others can aspire to wider possibilities. My goal is to learn how to give back.
What advice would you give to a coach in the U.K. thinking about joining YESsoccer in the U.S.?
Maximize every single opportunity that presents itself, dive into challenges. take risks, don`t be afraid of failure and be accountable for yourself. Understand that if you want to get ahead, you will have to work harder and do more than the person beside you.
What do you remember most about one of your coaches when you were young and playing soccer?
I was 10 years old and I had joined my first official youth soccer team. I remember my coach and his focus on winning. I remember not knowing what offside was (while yelling for the ball 15 yards behind the final defender) and my coach never correcting me. I remember not knowing how to do a throw-in (some would argue I still can`t) and my coach never going over it with me. I remember sitting on the bench and not getting game time because I was not as good as the others and eventually I was asked to leave the team. This experience shaped my perspective on how to coach and the importance of the coaches role and the need to focus on development.
What is your number one goal as a coach? How important is winning to you?
Winning is important, we all need to know what it feels like to win, to create feelings of competence and identity. However, we need to create environments where individuals can understand the pursuit of goals is in fact the goal to winning. An environment where individuals can ask questions, not be afraid to try and fail, to learn, reflect and to understand the processes of development. The beautiful thing about this approach is individuals will learn a lot more about themselves, beside their ability to perform a set of skills.
What are two mistakes you made in your coaching career that influenced how you coach today?
(1) I waited for people to give me opportunities and (2) I waited for people to give me advice.
How long have you been coaching for and what is your ultimate goal? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What is your dream job?
I have been coaching since the age of 16, my ultimate goal is to make an impact through sport, to make a difference and to inspire new possibilities. I do not know where I see myself in the next 10 years. I am enjoying the journey I am on now, I will continue to take on new challenges and opportunities and I will see where that takes me. I have my dream job. It is now time for me to improve its impact.
The twenty-two finalists of the 2017 MLS Works Community MVP Contest will receive a $1,000 donation for a charitable cause.
One Grand Prize winner will be announced during halftime of the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday, August 2 at Soldier Field and receive a $25,000 donation for their selected charitable cause.
The Grand Prize winner will be determined based on the voting results during a three-week contest window ending on Wednesday, August 2nd at 2:00 PM ET.
Please vote for Chris by visiting the Community MVP Contest site (www.MLSsoccer.com/CommunityMVP).