goalWA.net is pleased to welcome a new columnist to our website. He’s Adam Nowland, founder of Bellevue / Mercer Island area’s Nowland Premier Soccer Academy. In the coming weeks Adam will address soccer topics from his point of view in the new series “Soccer Perspectives with Adam Nowland.” Meet Adam in the interview below!
It’s not too often you get to interact with a former Premier League player on a daily basis. However, some club players in the state of Washington have been fortunate enough to have one as their coach. Adam Nowland, founder of Nowland Premier Soccer Academy (NPSA Titans), has been making a name for himself here in the Pacific Northwest and we were able to sit down and have a brief discussion with him regarding youth soccer in America and the role it takes in his life.
Q: Where were you born and raised?
Adam Nowland: I was born in July of 1981 in a town called Preston, England. Football was an integral part of my childhood and that is where I flourished. All of my friends and family were a big part of the footballing community and it meant a lot to be a member of it.
Q: When did you come to the United States and how did you end up in WA?
I came to the United States in January of 2010 to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies under English Coach, Paul Dalglish. Unfortunately, the injuries I suffered over the course of my career were beginning to catch up with me so I made the decision to move into coaching full-time. I had some friends in Seattle that worked in the youth soccer industry and they convinced me to remain in the U.S. and coach for the Washington Rush premier club that was based up in Everett. I spent 2 years as a Youth Director with the Rush in addition to being the Head Coach of the Washington Crossfire U23 team. Working for these large premier soccer clubs inspired me to start my own program and NPSA Titans was born.
Q: In your 7 years of being in the United States, what have you been able to achieve?
I’ve been very fortunate for the things I’ve been able to accomplish in my career. I started my own club Nowland Premier Soccer Academy (NPSA Titans) just over 3 years ago, and based in Bellevue. We’ve had a lot of growth and success up to this point and we plan on continued success moving forward. I also started the NPSA Foundation which provides professionally coached soccer training for low-income families and the underserved communities across the Greater Seattle area. So far, we have served over 500 families and provided 30 full scholarships for kids to play at the premier level through the Foundation. I have some big plans moving forward for both programs so watch this space.
Q: What are some of the biggest differences between soccer in the U.S. compared to soccer in England?
In England, soccer is 100% accessible. Regardless of commitment level, talent, or age, soccer is made available to everyone. Here in the States, it feels as though youth soccer is more of a business and is only an option for those who have the funds. This is the main reason why I started the NPSA Foundation. At NPSA, we do offer that genuine youth soccer experience to the players and parents who want it. However, we take the game a step further and make it available to anyone and everyone, regardless of skill level, through the Foundation. Kids are given an authentic football environment where they receive professional coaching, an atmosphere that is suitable for the players to develop at their own pace, and we even offer player scholarships for those who desire the premier soccer experience who do not have the funds and are ready to make that next step. Football is an amazing game, but in my mind, it means nothing unless we have a solid soccer community to back it up.
Q: With your playing background, what advantages does that have for your coaching career?
I believe my playing background is a huge advantage for me as a coach. I was fortunate enough to get the exposure of many different team environments at many different levels in England, including the Premier League. Soccer is a game of experience and you are constantly learning and adjusting to the environment around you. I was fortunate enough to play with and against some of the best players in the world at that time, so I know what it takes to play at the highest of levels. I also worked under some of the best coaches that the English have to offer so I couldn’t help but pick up training methods and ideas that have helped to shape my own coaching philosophy and style of play that I want from my teams. As I transitioned into coaching, it’s been rewarding to see and help the players pursue the same dreams that I once had. It means so much to be able to give back to the game that has given me so much.
Q: You mentioned that playing soccer is a game of experience. Are you finding this to be true as a coach as well?
In many ways, yes. As a player, there is a time where you think you know it all and you think you have the game figured out. But when you step onto the sideline with your coaching cap on, the game is vastly different. Coaching opens up an entirely new aspect to the game and it has been an absolute pleasure exploring it up to this point and I plan on doing it for the foreseeable future.
Q: Coaching is not all about experience, is it?
In all aspects of the game, experience only gets you so far. Just like training as a player, coaches have to “train” as well. I currently have my UEFA B License and the English FA Module 1, 2, and 3 certifications. Coaching education is huge and we preach this at NPSA. We just recently partnered with the NSCAA, which gives our staff, aspiring coaches in the community, and myself the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what the game has to offer us as coaches. The more we learn as coaches, the more we can provide for the players, the playing environment, and the soccer community around us. These coaching courses are crucial for coaching development and it is awesome to see it being implemented in all of our sessions for the players at NPSA.
Q: Aside from coaching within in your club, where else do you coach?
As much as I enjoy working with players at all levels, I also like the challenge of working with the elite players in the state and attempting to take their game to the next level. With this in mind, I joined the PSPL Surf Academy coaching staff last year and I am currently the Head Coach for the B03 and B02 age groups. It is a great opportunity to help develop these rising stars and I am excited to see them represent the PSPL and the state of WA in some of the top tournaments across the country later this year.
Q: What do you look for in a top player as a coach?
To be a top player, you cannot be one dimensional. I feel as though the American sports culture emphasizes and utilizes an athlete’s best skill set. There is nothing wrong with that, but I believe top players are complete players. They can adapt to any situation on the field and are willing to push themselves to the limit for their team. I am a strong believer in team over any individual and I promote this message to all the players that I work with, Together Each Achieves More.
Q: What is your coaching vision?
I want to build an authentic soccer community in the State of Washington and beyond. Youth soccer already plays a big role in American society, but I believe it can be better and more player-centric. Youth soccer is essentially the foundation on which the future of the American game should be built on so it needs to be more about the player and less about the clubs. A youth soccer clubs’ focus must be on player development not winning. If all youth soccer clubs, particularly the ‘Premier’ ones, all had the same goal then they would be able to work together for the betterment of the player and the game as a whole in this country.
On top of this, the best players in the world generally come from nothing, growing up with no guarantees or financial stability. As a result, they learn early in life that if you want something you have to fight for it. In soccer, this translates to having the desire and work ethic to be the very best you can be every single time you step onto the field for practice, games or just a kick-around with your friends.
The NPSA vision statement is “To influence positive change in the youth soccer landscape throughout the State of Washington, by removing financial, political, and social constraints that are the barriers to the development of players” and this is something I stand by.