On the pitch, Niko Marcina has always played center-mid, the key catalyst in the center of the field distributing the ball to other players. His skill of being able to keep an eye on the big picture of the game is one that comes in handy as he takes on the role of Director of Coaching at New Westminster Soccer Club. It’s a new position at NWSC, aimed at growing the club and improving the quality of soccer instruction provided to the community. Niko is at the center of those changes, assisting and spearheading the development on and off the field.

Niko’s soccer experience goes back to when he was 5 years old, developing his skills at a youth club. He then went on to play at the provincial level, then at UBC, and ended up training with the Whitecaps for a few years. He even had a stint with a professional team in Puerto Rico. He says all of that experience has prepared him well for his new role at NWSC.

“Playing at all those levels helped me understand what it takes to be a leader and a role model in that environment,” says Marcina. “But it also taught me that fun is first and foremost in soccer. Even at the highest levels, I guarantee that I would have dropped out of soccer if I wasn’t having fun.”

It’s a message he hopes parents and coaches take to heart and one that he wants to be a theme running through all the changes he’s making. Niko says the most common misconception about soccer is that it’s all about winning.

“That’s the opposite of what we want to impart within New West,” he says. “It’s about the long term development, the overall experience. To have a kid involved from 5 years old to 35 years old, they need to enjoy the game and enjoy the process and realize that wins will come as a result of that.”

Niko has been in the role for over a month, overseeing evaluations and playoff games. He’s excited about the potential he sees and is looking forward to making NWSC an even more community-oriented club that can reach out and share that vision through the Lower Mainland. But he wants parents to understand that developing a club is like developing a player – it takes time and patience.

“Please enjoy the process. Allow your son or daughter to fail. Show them what it’s like to not only fail but come back stronger and more confident with greater self-esteem. At the end of the day, they’re going to enjoy being a part of New West Soccer Club”.