GPRC soccer coach earns Canada’s highest level of certification
Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
GPRC soccer head coach, Chris Morgan, earns Canada’s highest level of certification.
He’s been described by student athletes as a coach who would do anything to ensure his players’ success, constantly challenges them to grow, and is all-round one of the most intelligent and passionate coaches they’ve ever met.
Now the head coach of the GPRC Wolves Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams can add one more accolade to the list: earning the highest level of certification in Canada’s soccer coach education program for senior players currently playing in a college/university, professional club or academy environment.
“Chris’ dedication to his craft is admirable. He is always striving to be the best he can be and is relentless in his pursuit to provide a great experience for GPRC student athletes. We commend the strides he has taken to continually develop his professional repertoire,” says GPRC Sport, Fitness and Wellness Director, Thomas Slifka.
Very few obtain the Canada Soccer A License, but Chris Morgan is now a proud member of a cohort of 30 coaches across Canada who earned it after beginning courses in 2018.
Valid for three years, the A Licence fulfills the coach education requirements of the Canada Soccer Professional Club Licence for the first-team head coach. The journey to earning it is an intense process involving online course work, in-person workshops, various practical sessions and demonstrations of competency and mentorship delivered through video.
It covers content ranging from mental health and wellbeing to leadership, sports science, match analysis, developing tactical strategies and using technology in coaching. As the second step on the Performance Stream pathway, the A Licence prepares coaches to progress to the Canada Soccer Pro Licence, which will be introduced by Canada Soccer is 2021.
Morgan, now in his 5th year heading both Male and Female Wolves’ Soccer programs, says he can’t wait to apply his newfound knowledge to the field.
“I’ve played soccer my whole life, since I was a child, and didn’t start coaching until my mid-thirties. I love everything about the game. I want my players to love it too, and to develop their skills to their fullest potential. It is my aim to empower, inspire and challenge the players everyday,” he says.
“As a coach, the team always comes first. Before any coaching begins, I strive to understand and connect with each player on a personal level, emphasizing honesty, integrity, humility, and being part of a team. This helps build the foundation of their learning environment.”
Morgan also holds the CSA and UEFA ‘B’ licenses, works as a Learning Facilitator for the Alberta Soccer Association and has been head coach of the Alberta Boys Provincial Soccer teams for the past two years. He is continuing his professional development by already commencing his 2-year journey to obtain a UEFA ‘A License from the Irish Football Association.
Before immigrating to Canada from Belfast, Ireland, Morgan spent more than a decade coaching his son’s team and several others at Carryduff Colts Football Club. While he started as a volunteer, he was soon asked to stay on and guided the senior team to winning the league, their first in the Club’s history.
He has clearly brought the championship spirit with him to Grande Prairie - in his first season Morgan guided the Wolves Boys U18 Soccer Club to a provincial title in Calgary, and also guided the GPRC Women’s team to a provincial silver medal spot and a berth at the Nationals in Montreal for the first time in the program’s history. This led to Morgan’s ACAC Coach of the Year award for the 2016-17 season.
The following year, from 2018-19, Morgan guided the women’s team at GPRC to their first ACAC provincial Championship crown and a subsequent berth at Nationals in Halifax.
“Chris really was the breath of fresh air that our program needed,” says former player Jessica Winterford, who was entering her third year when Morgan began coaching the GPRC soccer program in 2016. “It was not until Chris came to coach that we were able to find real success within The ACAC league and qualify for Nationals. We also won GPRC’s first soccer gold medal at the ACAC Championship the following season (2017/2018).
“Chris was able to build off what we as a group already had to offer and fit in as the missing piece that we needed to succeed. He created a dynamic that warranted success; players showed up day in and day out giving 100 per cent, always aiming to be their best for him as well as for their teammates.”
The first time Winterford met Morgan, her nerves at having to adapt to a new soccer coach instantly eased, she says. “Chris naturally carries himself as a people first person, and easily makes connections with the players that he coaches. Everyone was excited and relieved due to his high energy and contagious enthusiasm.
“I personally have had the privilege of building a strong relationship with Chris over the years, and he has provided me with mentorship that has allowed me to grow as a coach. His sense of humour, professionalism, consideration of those around him, and determination to succeed are all qualities that I look up to. But what sets him apart the most is his empathy and genuine care for those that he coaches - as people first, and athletes second.”
Like Winterford, Kennedy Hall also met Morgan in her third year of playing college soccer.
“In the first couple of interactions I had with him, I knew that the season was going to be special,” she says. “His Irish accent was accompanied by his amazing wit and the ability to light up the room with positivity. Chris talks with such passion and intelligence about the game of soccer, you almost have no choice but to listen to him.
“I was able to learn so much not just about soccer but about compassion, motivation, perseverance, and resilience. He radiates all of these qualities. He is the most passionate and fun-loving coach that I ever had the honor of being coached by. I am thankful everyday to Chris for helping me grow into the person I am today.”