FORMER Port Elizabeth soccer player Marc Manuel jetted out of the country yesterday to further his professional coaching career with the New Jersey soccer academy in the US. Northern Areas-born Manuel, 30, has signed a seven- month contract with the academy, which could be extended to three years if all goes well.
The New Jersey outfit is the US’s top football academy.
Manuel’s interest in forging a career in soccer started in the streets of Schauderville when he was a teenager.
He said the opportunity to coach a professional team was a dream come true, although he did not expect to be given the chance to do so abroad.
“My aspiration [to be a professional coach] came after completing my A-licence coaching certificate, and I had a vision of creating opportunities for youngsters in order for them to gain a chance to showcase their football talent on the higher stage.
“My advice to any young aspiring footballer is to never give up on your dreams, and without education some dreams are impossible to achieve.”
Manuel played for various Northern Areas Football Association teams, including Hotspurs and Glenville Celtic.
He said the mentorship of Winston Roman and Ben Lewis helped him move from player to coach.
Manuel attended the Transnet school of excellence and enrolled with the Delta youth development programme.
He began his coaching career at Varsity College – where in 2002 he studied for a national diploma in sports management – and with his former team Hotspurs’ junior side.
To gain more experience, he studied at the London Football Association in 2005, and received a Uefa B professional football coaching licence.
“Working with younger players is … demanding [but] thankfully they are more co-operative and less opinionated [than older players],” Manuel said.
He said his professional coaching qualifications had opened doors for him, and assistance from experienced coaches had helped him to hone his skills.
“I’ve worked with and learnt my football coaching trade from the best in the business … Mark and Jon Drabwell in London, as well as Boebie Williams [assistant coach at Bloemfontein Celtic].”
In 2010 Manuel started a project called Hope Givers in the Northern Areas, in which underprivileged young soccer players receive coaching.