The Greater Cleveland Soccer Association is doing more than just celebrating a few big anniversaries this year. In order to keep pace with other Southern Tennessee soccer programs the GRCSA has hired Lee University men’s soccer coach Paul Furey to take over as director of coaching.
“Paul is our first ever paid position, and we feel he is going to be a great figurehead for us. The GRCSA has made it our priority to be there for the kids, and Paul shares that philosophy,” stated GRCSA board president Jon Poulakis.
Furey’s position will involve overseeing the hiring, supervising and mentoring of the coaches who will be heading the teams at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
He will also be monitoring the overall performance of how things go with the various clubs and leagues that children playing soccer with the GRCSA will be involved in.
“I’m excited to take over as the director of coaching. There are a lot of good things about the association and we just want to continue to make it better,” Furey explained.
Lee’s men’s coach brings 25 years of coaching experience to the position and plans on drawing on institutions like the university to find and develop quality coaches in a highly competitive market.
“The competition to keep good coaches is very tough. The bigger programs can put up the big money to bring coaches in. I feel we can find great coaches that are coming out of the college ranks that can come in and really help us out,” he elaborated.
Being sandwiched between two major soccer markets in Chattanooga and Knoxville, the GRCSA knows it might not be able to dominate against city select teams, but is making every attempt to produce the best product possible.
Select teams are highly competitive traveling teams, and the demand for both quality coaches and players is fierce at that level of play.
“We recognize who and where we are. We are not looking to imitate the larger markets, but be our own unique product that builds itself around integrity and character,” Furey said.
“There is a lot of recruiting that goes on in competitive select soccer. So, we want to try and keep our quality players here at home, and have a good enough program to attract them to stay.”
In addition to the competitive select teams, the GRCSA also offers recreational leagues that focus more on providing a fun and safe environment for a child to develop motor skills, get exercise, have fun and be a part of a team, even from a young age.
According to Furey, soccer has been the No. 1 youth sport in the country for many years, and the program in Cleveland is continuing to grow.
Poulakis supported this statement by saying that just last season the GRCSA grew by over 30 select soccer players.
“I was really impressed with this community’s attitude toward soccer. We have a very active program that continues to grow. Our facilities are impressive, and this is just a great community to develop young players and coaches,” Furey said.
“We have a good thing here and we just want to continue to make it better. I appreciate the support of the university and the community. I want us to have something our soccer community can be proud of.”
Currently, more than 500 area children utilize the facilities to practice and compete at soccer.