By Luke Baynes
Don’t let the lack of furnishings at Vermont Premier Soccer’s Cornerstone Drive office space fool you. The newly founded soccer company is open for business and is ready to teach footballing skills to youths across the region.
“It’s kind of twofold, what we do,” said VPS Director of Operations Iain Manson. “One is player education, and two is coach education. So we’re looking to basically bring up the level of soccer that is played and taught in America.”
Manson, a Scot, is joined at VPS by Technical Director Malcolm Wilson, an Englishman. Manson, who was a midfielder at the University of Dundee, said his work at VPS combines two of his passions.
“Soccer—what we call football—has always been something I’m passionate about, and I get to combine working in the game of soccer with working with kids, which is really good,” Manson said. “I enjoy working with kids in that teaching and facilitating role, so it’s kind of a perfect match that I get to work in a soccer environment and also be involved with working with kids.”
Vermont Premier Soccer is an offshoot of Global Premier Soccer, an entity that formed after Massachusetts Premier Soccer expanded into other states across the Northeast and down the Eastern Seaboard. Notable GPS alumni include Major League Soccer players Bryan Gaul, who suits up for the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Aaron Schoenfeld, who takes the pitch for the Columbus Crew.
VPS was also formed as a partnership with Nordic Spirit Soccer Club, an Essex Junction-based organization that was founded in 1986 and hosts the annual Nordic Cup tournament, which brought more than 200 soccer squads to Chittenden County in 2012.
Jim Goudie, director of operations for Nordic Soccer, used a romantic analogy to describe the three levels of partnership the Nordic board considered when establishing a relationship with VPS. Level one, he said, is dating, level two is engagement and level three is marriage. Right now, Nordic and VPS are just dating, although it remains to be seen how the relationship will blossom in the future.
“We have decided as a club to go in at level one, so we’re going to be using their staff to work with our kids and our teams all year round,” Goudie said. “They’re providing us with professional, qualified coaches.”
Goudie pointed out that while most Nordic coaches have day jobs and are strictly part-time, the partnership with VPS will allow for greater player development through VPS day camps and summer clinics.
“The main goal for both organizations is player development,” Goudie said. “We want to be able to offer kids of all abilities a good soccer experience.”
VPS, which hosted a day camp at Williston Community Park on Wednesday, will also hold a four-week series of Friday evening clinics in Williston, beginning Sept. 28, which will pit goalkeepers against strikers in an intensive program.
Manson, who moved to Vermont this year, said he’s impressed with the level of support for soccer in the area.
“I’ve only been here a short period, but even just driving around, you don’t see American football goals, you see a lot of soccer fields,” Manson said. “Soccer’s definitely growing. You see the success of the men’s national team—but especially the women’s national team, they’re doing really well right now—and that’s only good for the game.”