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Jorge Landa meets with us as the head coach of the 2008 girls from Los Angeles to discuss the team. The team is beginning to lead in their regional league and will be looking to push on in the coming months and years. We sit with him to discuss the prospects for the team as well as where it all began.
Jorge, where and how did the team start? What brought you to this point?
Our humble beginnings were four seasons ago when the players were 7-8 years old. We started with the vision, enthusiasm and dedication to become the best soccer player versions of ourselves that we could. Today, we compete at the highest level of competition available at this age group and our core remains strongly connected and determined to continue our journey with that vision in mind. Recently the opportunity to become part of an elite organization such as GPS has provided further means to achieve those goals and the necessary environment to make it a reality.
What's the team's development been like over the previous few years, what has it been like to coach this group of players?
The development has been especially rewarding for all of us involved with this team. We hold ourselves accountable for our work and dedication, but more importantly, we acknowledge the amount of work required to continue to grow and exceed our expectations. We started as a bronze team when the girls were very young and we have now developed into a very competitive Gold level team.
We all know development is far from linear, it has peaks and troughs, going backwards to go forwards at times, what difficulties have you encountered?
Difficulties and challenges are many in life, and sports are just a microcosm of that experience. Even at this young age, we have had players struggle with injuries that have had to sit out to heal and then learn to ease back into training. Balancing family and school, and making sure there are time and space just to be kids is also a challenge. This team is learning lessons that will stay with them for their lifetimes. Our players have shown enormous resilience to adjust, and we often discuss among ourselves: life is not fair, but we can only control what we do... so let’s do to the best to our abilities!
Through all this every player, coach and parent we all strive for success, but success is different for every team and individual, it is relative to each context, what have been some of the girls' successes?
Successes are relative and with perspective, but being the first team in the 20+ year club history to reach the semifinals of State Cup competition in this age group. Also, reaching the finals and winning most of them in our first 8 tournaments since our inception, we certainly consider them special. The smaller individual successes of each player are also critically important. Those individual successes not only add to their level of play, but you can see their confidence grow exponentially in those moments.
So what next? What are the next steps?
Next is limitless with dedication and hard work, but in terms of near term goals: we look forward to competing in a wider geographic area outside our home state nationally and internationally.
What opportunities are you searching for/have access to for the girls in the coming months and years?
Some of the opportunities we are interested in are the platform, structure, organization and development offered by GPS. But most importantly the support to our team to continue to make strides to reach our vision and goals.
The girls are now entering a different phase of development where there is more focus on bringing practice into playing games. What is the plan to manage this change in mentality in you the coach, the players and the parents?
In my opinion, there has always been that element of connection between practices and playing games, but a key factor is the execution. I believe coaches are responsible for leading and setting the tone with the correct perspective for a complete player’s development including phycological, physical, tactical and technical.
As a coach what supports you to achieve your goals with the goals? (Team Manager, Club, certain individuals...)
In my view: “it takes a team effort to succeed “ we very much value everyone’s contributions towards our goals. At the tip of the iceberg are the individual players, but the support under them are the coaches, the families that tirelessly support their kids, the Team Manager, and the Club. Each one of us has a job to do so if we do it well, the results will show. The expectations for our players are similar.
Tag(s): Team Talk