Gonçalo Pinto, Lethbridge Soccer Technical Director: “I’m very excited for the future of soccer in Alberta”

Lethbridge Soccer Association, Alberta Soccer’s southernmost district, is doing important things. We spoke with their Technical Director, Gonçalo Pinto, who went into detail about all the programs available at their organization.

“We basically have two programs. Lethbridge Soccer Association is a recreational one, which ranges from U4 to U17. Being grassroots, we use a player-centred philosophy, with an emphasis on player development and not on results”, says Pinto, who was appointed as TD in July 2021. “We also have Lethbridge FC, our competitive program, which participates with our U13 and up in CMSA’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 divisions”.
But bigger players not only play. They also get to coach. “Our U4, U5, U6 and U7 teams are trained by our own Lethbridge FC players”, says Pinto proudly. “For little kids, to have a soccer player there to take part and engage with them is great”.

Last December, Lethbridge Soccer Association received their Quality Soccer Provider license, along with Strathmore Soccer and BTB Soccer Academy. Reaching those standards was an important step for the organization, according to Pinto. “Our Executive Director, Frank Spadavecchia, and a former Board Member, Tobi Lyons, were actively involved in the process. When I arrived, they immediately requested a meeting to discuss this. For me, it was a no-brainer: this license supports the organization by meeting the needs of our community”.

Lethbridge’s Technical Director also expressed his gratitude to Alberta Soccer for their ongoing support and encouraged other associations to pursue their own licensing. “If everyone follows the standards set by Canada Soccer, it will raise the level of soccer in Alberta. I really believe in this, and we are looking forward to taking our organization to the next level”.

Regarding the relationship between Lethbridge Soccer Association and the Vancouver Whitecaps, Gonçalo Pinto clarifies that it works as a partnership. He adds, “it enhances the opportunities for players, given the resources that a professional club has”. One of those assets is the Whitecaps Academy Centre, which takes athletes from U10 to U14. “This program is directed to motivated players who want to improve their skills by having quality practices run by a professional coach. Our idea is to discover, develop and monitor future talent by having a lot of on-field technical development”, says Pinto.

The other leg of this cooperation is the ‘Caps to College program, where players from U15 categories and older can have access to great opportunities of playing in colleges and universities. According to Pinto, those players “receive help with scholarship strategy, application workshops, video preparation, recruitment process, among other things”.

When asked about the future of soccer in our province, Pinto seemed optimistic. “Alberta is going on the right path by doing really positive things. For instance, the Alberta Youth Soccer League (AYSL) is a competition that will elevate the standards, not only of players but also of coaches”. Consequently, these steps could have long-term results. “In the long run, this will have good repercussions for our sport. Alberta is going to be one of the major provinces in feeding the National Teams, hence I’m very excited for the future of soccer here”, he concluded.