Skibbereen man still making headlines on the soccer fields of America
LIAM Collins is planning on building his own wall in Donald Trump’s America.
The only difference is that Collins’ defensive wall will be designed to keep out free kicks on the football field, not Mexicans.
Last month the Skibbereen native – just turned 27 years old on August 9th – was named the new head varsity soccer coach of Missouri Military Academy, a job he feels is the next step on the ladder in his American adventure.
This is his seventh year in the US, originally crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a soccer scholarship in 2010 before setting foot on a journey that has taken in University of Memphis and Cumberland University in Nashville, Tennessee (where he was assistant manager) before getting the top job at the Missouri Military Academy.
‘This is the next natural step for me because now I’ll be in charge of my own programme which will be nice,’ Collins told The Southern Star.
‘I’m just looking to try settle into the job and to try and be successful over the coming years – that’s all I’m really thinking about right now.’
As for his first season with Missouri, the Skibb native – now living in St Louis – has outlined his target for his new troops.
‘The goal is to just be better than we were last year but in the long run I want to develop a successful programme that is good year after year.
‘The next few weeks and months we’ll be a learning experience but hopefully we can build a strong foundation for success,’ he said.
‘Cumberland University was a great experience from me as I got to learn from some great coaches and I was able to attain a masters degree while I was there too. We won the conference (league) in 2015 and that was a great achievement for us as it resulted in us going to the national tournament which was a first for the school.’
With a Bachelor of Arts in History from his time at the University of Memphis and a Masters of Sport and Exercise Science from Cumberland University, Collins has worked hard on and off the field, and when he’s not on the training field at Missouri Military Academy he’ll be teaching American History – but he’s not hanging up his own boots any time soon.
He made a name for himself with the Cork City Youths in 2009 when they won the FAI Umbro Youth Cup, and eight years on Collins is still going strong.
Last month he was named on the 2017 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team of the year.
‘I originally came here on a soccer scholarship in 2010 and then I progressed into a coaching role but I’ve also been able to play semi-professional soccer for the past seven years too so I’ve been very involved in the game from a coaching and playing point of view while I’ve been here,’ he explained.
‘I just finished a season with Inter Nashville FC in the NPSL league which is a semi-pro league on the third tier of the US soccer pyramid.
‘We won the South Eastern Conference title and made it to the national quarter-final and were unlucky to go further. It was a very successful 2017.
‘I was named on the 2017 NPSL team of the year, too, so very happy with that considering there’s around 100 teams in the league in total.
‘I’ve still got a few more years of playing left,’ he quipped.
In early 2016 Collins got a trial with St Louis FC who play in the league below the MLS, but things didn’t work out.
‘They wanted to spend their money in different positions but it was a good experience and benefitted me massively,’ he said.
His two brothers are no slouches on the football fields here at home either, Mark’s an important player for both Skibbereen A FC and O’Donovan Rossa while the youngest of the three brothers, Owen, lined out with the Irish amateur international team this year.
They’ll all catch up when Liam is home this Christmas when he fills them all in on the latest chapter of his American adventure.
‘Life is great,’ he adds, and it’s hard to argue with him.
Now, to make sure his defensive wall can withstand what’s coming its way …