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For Sooke Celtic coach, focusing on fundamentals is key

Sven Eckhardt brings international soccer experiences to local pitch
Sooke Celtic coach Sven Eckhardt gives a thumbs up to Dex Snelling, a youth player with Sooke FC and avid Celtic fan, for his Celtic clover haircut. (Contributed photo)

Sven Eckhardt’s approach to coaching begins with building the foundation from the ground up.

“I find Canadian youth lack the fundamentals, the technical aspects of how to read the game and play the game,” said Eckardt, who took over as coach of Sooke Celtic last September after helping out with the team for about a year before that.

“It’s more about how to play your position right and build up your game, attack your opponents and get the ball back.”

Sooke Celtic assistant coach Pete McKay said the club is fortunate to have Eckhardt at the helm.

“He is very knowledgeable about soccer, and it shows with our improved tactics and plays on the field,” McKay said. “He’s brought a new level of intensity and experience that Sooke Celtic is very lucky to have.”

Eckhardt’s background in the sport includes more than 25 years in his native Germany, where he coached youth and played semi-professional soccer for a couple of his years before an injury forced him to quit competing at a high level.

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“I never lost my love of the game,” said Eckhardt, who moved to Calgary in 2007, where he played in city leagues and got involved in coaching young players again.

“We have a good mix of key older and younger players on Sooke Celtic, with one-third age 30 to 35, one-third are 25 to 30, and one-third 17 to 25,” said Eckhardt, who moved to Sooke in 2019. “It’s great team chemistry, considering the age difference. Every young player can learn from the experienced players.”

When asked if there are any special challenges coaching a team that includes his son, Ketil, one of the youngest players, Eckhardt paused for a moment before replying.

“Soccer is one of the most emotional sports,” he said. “You can’t coach without emotion. When you have a relative on the team, it’s even more emotional.”

Sooke Celtic holds first place in Division 3 of South Vancouver Island Soccer League with 37 points, five points ahead of Mid-Island Mariners. That positions the team to move up to Division 2 play next year, provided they win their last game of the season on Feb. 25.

RELATED: Sooke Celtic poised for first-place push

Eckhardt believes the support from the the team’s fan base has played a major role in their success.

“We have a good reputation for great support from the community,” he said. “We play against other teams where you’ll see maybe 10 people on the sidelines, and we get more than 100 people out for our games regularly. We had more than 200 at the opener last year.”

For more on the team, visit Sooke celtic on Facebook

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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