In a ‘Flash,’ more soccer duties for coach Warren Barton
The soccer world just keeps turning for the once thought-to-be retired Warren Barton.
Fifteen years ago, Barton was soccer’s $9 million man when he became the most expensive defender in English football after being traded from Wimbledon to Newcastle. Following retirement from the field of play, Barton made his way to the broadcast booth for ITV in England and then to Fox Soccer Channel in Los Angeles as co-host and analyst for its Fox Soccer Match Day.
With not nearly enough on his plate, Barton joined the coaching staff of Billy Garton and Jeff Illingworth’s Manchester Carmel Valley youth soccer league.
Now Barton has been promoted from a behind-the-scenes advisory board member to president, head coach and director of player development for the San Diego Flash Soccer Club. Barton joins the Flash’s CEO Clenton Alexander and VP Operations Eran Sinai at the top of the club’s hierarchy.
“It’s just a title to be honest with you,” Barton said modestly. “Clenton and Eran, we’ve all got many hats; we’re all helping each other out. We’re all mixing in doing the best we possibly can.
“We have the same goal, to get a professional, semi-professional soccer team and give the young players in San Diego an opportunity to show their talents,” he said.
“President is just a name. I’m still the coach. I’m still picking up dirty uniforms and wet towels that are left on the floor, collecting soccer balls from all over the field,” Barton said with a laugh, “so it’s just a title.”
Although he was only announced to Manchester Carmel Valley’s coaching staff in January, Barton said co-founders and directors Garton and Illingworth are squarely behind him.
“They’re really supportive because it’s a feeder system for the young players of Manchester and Attack and Surf (the youth leagues) and young players that maybe can’t get to college, or don’t fit into the college system, or even come out of college and need somewhere to play in the San Diego area, at least with my pedigree, with my name, they know they’ve got a coach to look forward to,” Barton said.
Barton also noted that the practice and playing schedules of Manchester and the Flash will not clash, adding that “we train a lot later than the young boys for Manchester, Attack and the like, so it won’t conflict at all.”
If the club name sounds familiar that’s because the Flash originally played for four years in the Top Division of the A-League, now the United Soccer Leagues (USL), from 1998 to 2001.
“This,” Barton stated, “is brand new. This is a whole new franchise, new board members, a new team, a new beginning for semi-professional soccer in San Diego.”
For now, the Flash is working out its new, young players through of series of exhibition games to benefit charitable organizations as a sort of goodwill and get to know your local soccer team tour.
“This year is about giving back to the community, just spreading the word of what we’re trying to do; 2011 is when we’re looking to try to go into the USL or North American Association, to be in one of the two divisions below the MLS,” Barton said.
A core element of the Flash’s plan is, “look and see local, young talented players,” he said. “As time goes by, we look to bring in young men who want to play soccer and want to represent San Diego. And there’s nothing better than having local pride and local players. … The more local support we have, the better.”
According to Barton, support for the Flash is swelling.
“Soccer’s getting huge. We’ve got over 15,000 people on Facebook,” he said. “There’s conversations going on all the time with Twitter. We’re using social media and the great response as a tool to brand the name of San Diego.”
On March 28, the Flash played before a crowd of 800 to 900 soccer fans at Cathedral Catholic High School in a benefit match for Donate Life America. Preceding the April 18 Walk for Life event, the Flash will play an exhibition to benefit the Cardiovascular Disease Foundation on April 17. Also in April, with a date yet to be announced, the Flash will play to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
- Charity game schedule: www.sandiegoflashsoccer.com/SDSoccer/charity.html
- Information: Warren@SanDiegoFlashSoccer.com, (858) 715-1981, www.sandiegoflashsoccer.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/SDFlashSoccer
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