By Karen Billing
For the last 12 years, Billy Garton has been a fixture on the Carmel Valley soccer scene. He recently made the switch from the Carmel Valley Manchester Soccer Club to Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks, where he brings his expertise to the role of director of the boys competitive program.
Along with him, Garton brought some teams he had previously worked with, older boys and elite program teams that fit into the gaps the Sharks were missing.
“I was looking for a new challenge and a new stimulus and this opportunity was perfect in terms of timing,” Garton said.
Garton has deep roots in the game, having played 10 years for Manchester United in the English Premier League. After retiring, he played another five years of semi-professional football in England before going back to university to earn an honors degree in education, specializing in physical education. He became a teacher in addition to owning his own soccer business. Garton also earned his FA coaching license in England and coached professionally in the minor Pro leagues in England for several years. He also holds a USSF coaching license.
According to the Sharks’ web site, Garton “moved to San Diego 12 years ago and was founder and Director of Coaching at Manchester Soccer Club.” Garton’s wife, Francine, opened the Royal Dance Academy in Carmel Valley and, between the two of them, they probably know every youngster in town who has ever put on ballet shoes or cleats. Garton gets a kick out of the grown men he coached as boys that will approach and still call him coach and give him a warm hug.
Since joining the Sharks, Garton works alongside another former Premier League player, Warren Barton, who played 18 years in the league and now serves as the Sharks’ technical director.
“When Warren was going into his prime, I was retiring but I watched his progress and when I moved I kept tabs on him and I remember him playing well and fulfilling all his dreams,” Garton said.
He didn’t even know Barton had moved to the area until they bumped into each other at a local school. Now they are close friends as well as colleagues.
Tryouts are upcoming in early February for older players (boys and girls) and if the way the younger group tryouts went in January are any indication, the league is shaping up to be quite strong.
“Our first tryouts were fantastic,” Garton said.
The Sharks ended up with one under-6 team, two under-7 teams, four under-8 teams, and five under-9 teams.
“There were so many kids out on the field it was humbling, it was really exciting,” Garton said. “This is the first year that we will truly see the strength of the teams, but also there are so many kids with potential, which was the exciting thing for me. With the talent pool in the under-7 and under-8 groups we can really develop strong players — my head was spinning.”