Powell River Villa soccer club names new coach

Mario Paul returns with ambitious goals for the 2016/17 season

Mario Paul is returning to Powell River Villa soccer club as head coach and Chris McDonough, who coached Villa for three seasons, is moving to an executive position with the team.

Villa team president Jamie Zroback recently made the announcement.

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“I’m really excited to have Mario come in as the coach and for Chris to join the executive. It just makes us that much stronger,” said Zroback. “Mario is a Vancouver Island Soccer League veteran. He’s played for Villa. He’s won league titles. I’ve played with him. I’ve played against him. He’s coached me. I’ve coached him. It’s an easy fit for us.”

Paul was with Villa as a player-coach about 10 years ago. He said it was the first opportunity he had to fill a coaching role. At that time, Villa had been successful in moving into the first division of the Vancouver Island Soccer league (VISL). Then the team moved into a transitional phase and dropped from first division to second.

“We started losing players as they started moving on with their lives,” said Paul. “Veteran players were leaving and we had to start over. We were in first division for a few years and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep a spot and we were relegated to division two.”

McDonough coached the team for the last three seasons and said he is proud of what he accomplished in moving the team up from third to second division, finishing last season in seventh place with a record of three wins, seven losses and six ties.

“It was a pretty big achievement and it was a really fun three years,” said McDonough. “I really enjoyed it and hopefully we can continue our upward trajectory. It’s a pretty exciting story for next year.”

The coaching change was amiable, said McDonough, and he is staying with the club in a marketing role.

“I put in three years and I was looking for a bit of a change,” he said. “It’s a demanding job. I travel a lot for work and it was just starting to get too much for me.”

According to McDonough, he is working on marketing to build Villa’s fan support, which has fallen off over the last few seasons.

“We’re partnering with a fan group called Villa Supporter Group,” he said. “A lot of the clubs have supporter groups that help out the team and organize fans coming out.”

McDonough has also brought Townsite Brewing onboard as the club’s official beer. McDonough will be working to grow the fan base through team branding, starting with new Villa scarves available for fans to purchase.

“In the ’80s, ’90s and early parts of the 2000s, we would get 200 to 300 fans per game,” said McDonough. “There would be singing and a boisterous crowd. We’re going to try to get the fans back out like they used to be.”

According to Paul, he is starting with a strong core of young players and veterans. He plans to do everything he can to give the fans something to cheer about and get some redemption for when he was last with the team.

“It was really heartbreaking when we went from first division to second. I was a part of that team, so it’s a good opportunity for us, and for myself, to climb back up into first division,” said Paul. “That’s my ultimate goal. You’ve got to go for it right off the bat. You don’t come to lose.”

Zroback said a shakeup is always good for a team and he knows from experience that Paul is not going to be happy just moving up a few places in second division at the end of next season.

“Mario is the type of guy who wants to win the league this year and this is how we’re going to do it,” said Zroback.

Villa is still looking for an assistant coach, said Zroback. The team is also looking for new players.

For more information, contact Villa at cmcdonough474@gmail.com or jamie@landquest.com.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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