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A soccer dream came true, among others that are still there.

I came to San Francisco 8 years ago and, after a period of adjustment I began to dedicate time to the third of my 3 loves. The other 2, my wife and making modern art compositions, were already taken care of.

So, the third love was soccer. And because it’s an addiction, like any other addiction it will accompany me until the last of my days, in 2064. Being 58, I’m just half way!

I have been very lucky to have coached many teams but, there is a but. At 17 years old I played on the youth teams of A.C. Milan and I have 50 years of soccer experience but, having come here just a few years ago, not having been in the soccer American world from when I was young, and consequently not having an important series of successes to show, to dream to coach at a high level, is just that. A dream. Forget about Colleges or Universities. I coached adults amateur teams, high school and youth teams.

In all of these experiences I had some satisfaction because, every time I was asked to help out it was from a team that had some problems in succeeding. Every good coach can take a team that has already won everything and continue to win. Just don’t do something deeply wrong and everything will be fine. It’s different to take a so-so team and be able to have some satisfaction.

The problem is that every great youth team, for example U16 class 1, was built 6 years ago, by a coach that for 99% had his son or daughter on the roster. So, the only chance that I could have to coach a great and victorious team is that some coaches, for any reason, can no longer take care of his team.

So maybe I’ll get lucky. I won the National Title U17 as a player and I would like to win the State Cup as a coach. Everyone has to have his dreams.

Besides this dream, I always dreamed to see a youth team that, instead of having some good players, have the whole team made of good players. I’ve said many times that, the teams having been made at the beginning by a group of friends, without a try-out choosing from hundreds of players, if the team after 6 years is still formed by the original group, it’s almost impossible that all of them reach a high level of soccer skills.

I was thinking aloud with my dear friend and coach Teddy Ciupitu, and he told me: “If you are free this Sunday, why don’t you come to see my girls play?”

I was free so I went.

They played at Redwood City. Great place and field. Being surrounded by geese instead of cars, is always great even if, sometimes, they bite. In general, they bite little kids that disturb them so, good life lesson!

I was with my wife. We park the car and, before turning toward the field, I heard the greatest soccer sound (music) in the world. The sound of a soccer ball kicked perfectly. If you are a soccer lover, and have seen play at high levels, you know exactly what I talking about.

It’s a dry sound, sometimes followed by 1 of 3 other magic sounds:

-the sound of the goal net hit by the ball,
-the sound of the keeper’s hands on the ball, catching or punching
-the sound of the post or cross bar being hit by the ball.

This third his an endless vibration. A mix of aluminum, humidity, leather, grass, nylon cords, that vibrate……………………………… all together!

If you stay on a soccer field for 50 years, sooner or leather you’ll hear it. Yes, the sound of humidity of a soccer ball that hits a goal post!

O.K. Lets forget about this. Only 10, maybe 12 of you can understand!

So, I wasn’t turned yet to the far away field, when I heard the magic sound, followed by others similar. I turned to the field and I saw soccer players warming up by shooting on goal. Probably boys, considering the power and the constant precision from all of them in shooting.

We were early and, from far away, I thought maybe the girls were on another field or would come later.

In getting closer, I had a soccer “vision”. These players, weren’t boys. They where the Belmont Oaks Barracudas - U16……………………… GIRLS!

All these girls, when their coaches give them a rolling ball at the border of the big area, continued shooting rockets to the 2 keepers that, for their part, got almost all the rockets! And they were shooting alternating left and right feet!

WOW!!!!! A soccer dream come true! So REAL youth soccer players exist!

We just said hi to Teddy, that very kindly wanted to introduced me to the team. I said not to not disturb them just before the game, and we sat to enjoy the match.

The level of the teams was too uneven for having an balanced game because the Barracudas were too superior. They easily won, even throwing away simple opportunities, probably to make the score not to embarrassing for the other team.

At the end, talking with Teddy, I said that from far away, I believed that the players were boys, because of how powerful they were. My friend told me that often they train against boys, because it’s the only way to put the girls under pressure. Sure, sometimes the boys are faster than them but, besides this, they often kick their butts!

Teddy also told me that one time at practice, during a shooting exercise, he put his hands out with too much confidence, just to stop the ball. The ball hit his hands, the wrist turned backward and the screw of his watch, hurt the top of his hand very badly!

In conclusion, I finally saw a great group of soccer players, real youth soccer players, well trained through the years, harvesting the fruit off all the hard work put on the field by the girls and the coaching staff.

The Barracudas girls, could easily make a bunch of Sharks boys run away.

Congratulations to them, to coach Teddy Ciupitu, his coaching staff and thanks for making a soccer dream of mine come true!

Coach Gianni

I asked Coach Teddy to send me information about his team. Here they are:

The team is based in Belmont and part of Belmont Oaks Soccer Club.
I am a parent coach. All the management and coaching on this team is done by parents.

All of us are employed full-time, but we are committed to spending more than 20 hrs/week tending to this team. Between us, we bring over 23 years of competitive soccer playing experience (including European Premiere League), 15 years of total coaching experience, 25 years of total Physical Education experience. There is no cost associated with our time.

The four coaches are with the team since its inception in Spring 2001 as are ten of its founding players. More than half of them are Belmont local kids.
They grew up together under our watchful and caring eyes and they now form a real tight team with excellent values, work ethics and a realistic view of what soccer represents for them.

Although we know we operate in a very competitive environment, and we are very competitive, we will always consider soccer an extra curricular activity for our children.

Education will always come first for our players, and we strongly encourage strong academics performance. Soccer is very high on the priority list but school always comes first. Many girls attend very demanding High Schools and/or take AP Classes and they find ways to be successful in academics and soccer. Our girls go to Woodside Priory(5), Palo Alto High(4), Saint Francis(2), Sacred Heart, Carlmont, Woodside, Santa Clara and Saratoga.

Education in soccer is also something we encourage. One of the biggest problems for American youth soccer is the lack of time spent by children watching games. We do our best to include watching games in their busy schedules.

Our goals extend beyond soccer skills to learning to be part of a team and to know what it takes to get there. They learned responsibility, and the importance it plays. We all hope that soccer will never be their whole life, but part of it. We want them to be successful in many aspects of their life, and we use the sport as one means to get them there and to provide them with successful attitude and work habits.

We see parents as extremely important partners in achieving these goals. Communication is strongly encouraged and many times I seek the parents’ input.
We encourage the parents to keep us well updated with their daughters’ academics performance, and if slip-ups occur we shall be the first to suggest a rebalancing of their schedule regardless of the impact the players absence might have on the team performance.

We port these values on the field and as the girls tasted the victory and the defeat, they learned to deal with both in gracious ways. They know fair play and sportsmanship.

Under this structure and modus operandi we built a team that is ranked 6th in Northern California. Half the team members participate in ODP at different levels – District, State, National. We are active year-round, play league games – State Premiere League and Super-Y, Futsal in the Winter and many tournaments.

During the past 15 months we participated in 18 tournaments. We won 9, we made the Final in 3 and came in 3rd place once. We are District II Cup Champions for 2 consecutive years, made the State Cup Round of 16 and the quarterfinals at Nomads.

People may think this is a lot of work .. we think it is a lot of fun.
I do not go to practice as to my work place. I go to practice as to my fun place. The girls work hard but they enjoy it too.
I never forget this is just a game .. a game we play .. Play is joy and pleasure .. As we progressed, my definition of what we are doing changed from ‘having fun playing soccer’ to ‘having fun with a purpose’. The purpose is to bring the girls play to the highest level they can reach and to do it by never taking the joy of playing out of it. I want them to love the game and playing it .. now and for a lifetime ..

Coach Teddy Ciupitu.

Coaching Staff:

Teddy Ciupitu – Head Coach (Chief Systems Engineer)
National Coaching License - D.
Lesley Simpson – Assistant Coach (Teacher)
Licensed CYSA coach(F).
Courtney Sjoerdsma – Assistant Coach/Conditioning Instructor (Physical Education Teacher) Professional trainer and presenter for Sports, Play and Active. Licensed CYSA coach(F).
Roger Haeussler – Assistant Coach – (COO) – Licensed CYSA coach(F).

Posted on 07 Dec 2006 by coachgianni
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