The new FC Edmonton Coach and Director of Football Operations Alan Koch could be a candidate for the most interesting man in the world.
A native of South Africa, Koch’s parents and brother emigrated to Canada first with his arrival coming in July 1996 at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia on a soccer scholarship. The man has played soccer in his native South Africa, Germany and Ireland.
Diagnosed with a heart condition in 2001, Koch closed the door on his playing career and began his coaching career that same year as an assistant with Simon Fraser University. From 2003-06 while on the coaching staff of Midwestern State University, Koch completed his Masters Degree in Human Resources. Seriously, how many coaches have a Masters Degree!?
In 2008, Koch went back to British Columbia where he would stay for almost a decade between Simon Fraser University and the Whitecaps FC 2 where he infamously gave Canadian Superstar Alphonso Davies his first professional minutes.
Let’s bring in Coach Koch after the not-so-usual introduction:
A compliment to compared to the man in the Dos Equis commercials. Very fortunate and privileged the game of football allowed me to see large parts of the world. Leaving South Africa at the age 19 I have lots of memories with the favourite memory being the large chunks of my youth spent wearing no shirt and no shoes with the ability to enjoy great weather almost every day of the year.
Lived in suitcases most of this journey, my wife and I have the unwritten rule of two suitcases each as the world is our oyster. BC has been our home for years and their winters are generally mild while winters in Cincinnati would confine us to indoor training at the beginning of the season. I’m prepared for Edmonton winters.
Staying within the confines of my ability covering the Eddies, admittedly I attend games at Clarke Stadium more for the antics of the River Valley Vanguard (RVV) Supporters Group more than the tactics on the pitch, I asked Coach Koch three questions about FC Edmonton:
- The first players re-signed to FC Edmonton were three FC Edmonton Graduates in Chance Carter, Antony Caceres and Marcus Velado-Tsegaye. Edmontonian and top goal scorer Easton Ongaro is officially back. Recently the return of Academy product Shamit Shome was announced and you welcomed back former 2011 Eddie Kyle Porter. In the early stages of the 2021 roster development there is a distinct Edmonton feeling to this Edmonton Club. I know your job is bring in the best talent but please speak of giving Edmonton fans a team they can connect with through their history with the Club.
FC Edmonton is one of the few clubs in Canada that has a history and we are excited to embrace players from Edmonton and/or played for FC Edmonton before. I’m excited that we have several players from Edmonton on the team and I would like to give more players from Edmonton their professional debuts. The caveat being the players have to be good enough to help us achieve our goals on the pitch.
- For the portion of fans who attend FC Edmonton games (like myself) who are there more for an evening out than to watch specific players, what will a Koch led team look like?
New Eddies fans I think they will see a team that is technically proficient with the ability to move the ball quickly and create goal scoring opportunities. Recruitment is a big part of the product on the field so I’m using my network to get the best possible players to work with to achieve this.
- A buzz word in sports is “culture”. This question comes with two prongs. a)As of this writing, the Eddies will be a very young team. What “Culture” are you looking to build within your dressing room and b) Your thoughts on the Supporters Group aspect of soccer’s culture?
a)The internal culture we are going to create is an environment where it is a team first mentality that has the positive byproduct of allowing the individuals to reach their goals. The collective culture – team, club supporters- need to make Clarke Stadium our fortress.
b) Within the game I only focus on what is happening between the lines. Outside the game I see the Supporters Group as our partners in creating our Clarke Stadium fortress.
Thank you Coach Koch for taking the time to talk to me. Covid-19 is the unaddressed elephant in the room in terms of talking about an upcoming FC Edmonton season. Let’s all choose to stay optimistic that we will spend our fair share of spring, summer and autumn nights at Clarke Stadium together.