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From the Top

18 June 2008

"Many players will be busy preparing for their holidays rather than thinking about the new academic year ahead. However if you are reading the this article it means you ARE interested in a US soccer scholarship!

There is a HUGE demand for graduate qualified soccer players, coaches and administrators in the USA where most Major League recruits are university graduates.

In the Spring Semester while at Wingate University I started coaching at local clubs to pay for my NSCAA Coaching Diplomas and, of course, extra income. Little did I realise that Matthews Soccer Club would offer me the top position responsible for 25 coaches and hundreds of players ranging from 8 to 18 years of age before I finished university!

After graduating in 2004 I was appointed Technical Director of Coaching at Matthews Soccer Club, Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 22. In 2005 I moved to South Charlotte Soccer Association as Director of Coaching where we have some 70 teams and over a 1000 players.

So how did all this come about? At age 12 years I resolved to become a professional player! By age 14 at Cramlington Juniors and attending Newcastle United School of Excellence, I was confident about finding a professional club. I was also acutely conscious about the importance of attaining my GCSE grades and I resolved to work as hard at school as I did at football. I am thankful to my parents and teachers for their wisdom, support & encouragement.

At Newcastle School of Excellence I realised that talent and positive mental attitude on the field was not enough. Performance feedback and game awareness had to be developed by carefully listening to,watching and working under experienced qualified licensed professional coaches. I am indebted to Simon Smith Newcastle's Keeper coach and John Carver Football Develpment Coach at that time ( later Sir Bobby Robson's Head Coach ) for all their help and encouragement.

At 15 I signed on Schoolboy terms for Newcastle rather than accept offers from other clubs. However, when Shay Given arrived I was one of several keepers so I accepted a PFA Scholarship at Hull City FC where Rod Arnold an ex keeper with Mansfield Town and youth team coach further shaped my game. I was also fortunate to be encouraged by Pat Lally, the PFA Education Officer, to take "A" level subjects at Wyke College.

When Hull City FC was put into Administration in 2000 many loyal staff and the youth squad were paid off. I received a few 1 year offers, but decided I wanted higher education and played in the PFA exits trials.( who would believe 8 short years later Hull would be in the Premiership - come on the Toon & Tigers! )

Thanks to a good clutch of GCSE's, my 2 years in Further Education under the PFA Scholarship Scheme and intensive tuition for the SAT test, I was able to choose anyone of the 3 universities offering me a full scholarship.

I chose Wingate in North Carolina.There were obviously several factors in my decision. Most of all I liked and trusted Head Coach Hamill and was impressed with the roster and his achievements as well as the location and under graduate programs available.

Before graduating I realised how privileged and fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to play at the highest level in the world of university soccer and gain a degree. Believe me, with the determination to enter Higher Education and athletic talent there are over 3000 soccer scholarships offered every year to foreign players.

That is why with family help, especially my father, I founded PASS4 Soccer with the aim of setting up a Charity (now applied for) to educate coaches, teachers, players and parents about scholarships and to help all those players who demonstrate a genuine desire to take up Higher Education and win a sports scholarship."

Philip Poole

FACA, NSCAA & USSF licensed coach. Director of Coaching, South Charlotte Soccer Association. Member of the US Olympic Development Program coaching staff..


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