Gaetano Mauro has deep roots in the soccer community.
So deep, his reach extended from Prince George to Mexico on a recent trip to help young kids get the proper equipment to play.
This past weekend he was in Fort St. John at the Kids Arena Fieldhouse for a three-day session teaching young soccer goalies how to perfect their craft.
Mauro, who is from Prince George and has been involved in teaching goalkeeping for at least three decades, said the position has changed so much over the years it is important now more than ever to educate players about how to play the position.
“The game has changed from a kick and run game, to a control game,” he said.
“We are looking for goalkeepers that can actually deliver a ball and don’t kick it so it goes to the opposing team. The delivery is very important.
"The goalkeepers of today— at one time you put the lousiest player on your team in goal because nobody really wanted to play goal, things have changed for the better. Your top players are your goalkeepers now… if you have possession of the ball, the other team cannot score.”
Mauro also noted that throughout the last three years along with the Fort St. John Soccer Club, both the talent and the turnout have increased significantly at the camp.
“I think I was here a couple of years ago and we barely had enough people,” he said.
“We had about 10 or 15 kids. In the last two years the end result is what we have today— 29 registered. So we have come a long way, not just in number but in quality. The kids are learning, the kids are inspired by getting some quality coaching by the people that I bring up… We were thrilled about it. It is the fact that the kids are improving and it gives me pleasure.”
While Mauro has been involved in soccer since the 1960s, he has finally come to understand what is preventing a stronger pool of talented players in Canada from developing.
“I’ve been teaching goaltending for 30-35 years… I played goalkeeper quite competitively and I wanted to share that with the kids of today,” he said about how he got his start teaching the game.
“We have some pretty talent kids all over the place, the one thing that is missing, and some of them have it— is the passion.
“I just came back from Mexico and I have some great stories about the passion for the game... if you look at the world rankings they are possibly 11th in the world and Canada with the facilities we have, we are ranked 109th. So there is something missing it is that feeling for the game, that passion.”
And with plenty of youthful exuberance through three days of soccer at the fieldhouse for the 29 attendees, Mauro hopes a new age of goaltender has been born.
“It’s not just about blocking or stopping, it’s about delivery— it’s about ability to play with your feet. A good goalkeeper today is what I would call a sweeper keeper because he can play with his feet and that’s very, very important,” he said.
The outdoor soccer season in Fort St. John started on Monday and continues until June 18.