By Peter MorrowKingston, Ont. Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 – On August 2, Kingston FC midfielder Jason Massie tweeted, ‘I may be biased but football has to be the best sport in the world?’ The pro footballer is biased, and he’s well aware his thoughts aren’t akin to several residents of his new home of Kingston.
Such is the nature of Massie’s work each day. Since he arrived in town in April, he’s become a catalyst to the game’s growth.
There are really only two known truths about the 29 year-old: he’s one of the most talented soccer players Kingston has ever seen, and he’s from England. His accent and his on-field trickery – nine goals this season and loads of assists – are plainly visible during games.
He also cares deeply about the sport – that it thrives, and that it’s played properly. The trait is perhaps more familiar to members of the Cataraqui Clippers, children, parents and staff such like technical director, Chris Eveleigh.
“It’s hard looking for a way to put it, but [Massie’s] very well-educated and highly knowledgeable,” Eveleigh said, “so he’s been a great asset to the club and he’s helped the kids learn in unique ways which has been fantastic.”
With a skillset like Massie’s, it was hard to ignore the value for Eveleigh, who first encountered him at a Kingston FC game in early June.
“Yeah, he’s a role model and the kids want to aspire to be like him,” Eveleigh said. “When you’re nine years old, you look up to a kid in a track suit who plays professionally, no matter what level. And having someone especially with Jason’s quality has helped that much as well.”
The children under Massie’s tutelage are learning from a soccer player who’s compiled years of world-class knowledge. His knowledge of the game was honed during a seven-year stint playing with one of the world’s most prestigious clubs in his hometown: Liverpool FC.
From the age of 12 to 19 he trained with Liverpool’s youth academy ranks. When his contract wasn’t extended, he went on a brief soccer hiatus – discouraged, almost considering hanging up the cleats for good.
But inevitably he didn’t. He suited up for a local semi-professional side, and without much delay was noticed by an American college coach, given an offer, and months later flown overseas.
The transition was an adversity test, later becoming a life lesson he imparts on others.
“Soccer’s all about opinions,” he said. “So just because you don’t make one team doesn’t mean you won’t make it elsewhere.”
North America first provided him opportunity through its college system. Massie spent three seasons at Ohio’s Rio Grande University, and two years most recently at Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton University, enjoying stints with PDL and USL squads each summer, including the Portland Phoenix in the USL.
Somewhere between Oregon, Ohio and Nova Scotia it occurred to Massie that the sport of soccer as it’s known in North America could use some help. With coaching experience under his belt from his final Liverpool years, he picked it up again in Cape Breton. Today in Kingston, his mission is the same.
“Really what I’m trying to do is just coach the way I was coached at Liverpool and that means trying to bring a lot of professionalism to the club,” he said, adding, “stuff as simple as being on time, bringing dynamic warm-ups, making sure the kids can move physically before they focus on technical skills – because if you don’t have the fundamental movement skills, it’s hard to develop technique with the ball.”
In Cape Breton he saw the change in performance – starting with 5-year olds, Massie focused purely on building physical movements, and he said the difference was noticeable. Incorporate fun into the program, he says, and a new crop of devoted soccer talents are developing.
One fault that must be corrected, prevalent in most of North America, is the lack of stress on ball possession. Ball-on-the-deck, says Massie, isn’t given nearly enough focus.
“When you can play direct, play direct, but if not keep possession and keep the ball on the deck. That’s something we do at Kingston FC, and the way I have played soccer throughout my life. It’s difficult to not play that way seeing as it’s the way the game should be played.”
So we’re trying to get the kids to play out from the back regardless if they make mistakes, because it’s not about scoring goals for those kids, it’s about developing as players,” he said, adding, “they’ll only develop if they play the right way.”
One sure-fire way to help develop good habits, says Massie, is just by watching the game – something a lot of Canadian and American kids choose to avoid.
“They don’t watch the game – and trust me, it’s one of the easiest ways to learn the rules, one of the easiest ways to develop good habits.”
In many ways he wants to see the game develop in Canada just as much as Canadians do – perhaps more. But the man from Liverpool knows better than anyone else, it’s going to be a long-term project.
At least in the near future, Jason Massie isn’t going anywhere. Just as he’s helped achieve success with the Kingston FC franchise, the sport’s landscape in Kingston could brighten up under his leadership.
To learn more about Kingston FC’s miracle 2013 season, check out the detailed press release.
Be sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates, and you can also learn more about Kingston FC on our Wikipedia page.
|Peter Morrow||Nick Faris|
|Media Relations||Media Relations|
|Kingston FC||Kingston FC|