Cambrian soccer success more than the sum of their parts
by Randy Pascal
Talk of the success of the men’s and women’s soccer programs at Cambrian College invariably turns to the head coach of both teams, Giuseppe
Politi – and rightfully so.
But talk to the man who is credited with much of the revival of the Golden Shield teams on the pitch, and the scope of that credit is far more shared.
Associate coach Dayna Corelli and assistant coach Matt Binks have been at his side every step of the way, providing very different
personalities to the mix, and offering areas of expertise that allow the program to grow in a manner that perhaps, at times, goes unnoticed.
“I’m not sure that the players even realize how important they are,” said Politi. “They really do fill a big role.” A former member of the Laurentian
Voyageurs varsity women’s soccer team, Corelli suited up with a highly successful Sudbury Panhellenic girls rep soccer team for many years, a
group that served as the training grounds for a still very young coach Politi.
When it comes to the Cambrian women’s team, in particular, she serves as a key conduit for her coaching counterpart. “Firstly, she’s female, and as
simple as that sounds, it’s a major part,” acknowledged Politi. “The girls can relate to get, they can identify with her, they see that she can understand
some of their issues.”
“She’s also very involved with community soccer, as head coach of the U21 team, with the SRSA (Sudbury Regional Soccer Association) as technical
director. It’s really the relationship that she has with the players – it’s pivotal,” he added.
“I might be a little more tuned into the way they are thinking, and how they might be viewing a situation,” Corelli agreed. “With females, you can focus
on what they can achieve and what they can do together, which is sometimes different than how you would motivate a men’s team.”
In Binks, the team benefits from an on-campus presence, a father of two who also carries a personality than provides a wonderful offset to the passion
and intensity of Politi. “The main thing I do is take away all of the academic concerns from Giuseppe,” said Binks.
“I meet with the players throughout the year, in season and out, to address any concerns they might have with regards to school. Because I am dealing
with them on that level, there is a certain personal connection that is outside the realm of soccer.”
Truthfully, it goes well beyond just the setting. “I think I connect with them more on an emotional level, not just the women, but the men too,” Binks
noted. “I think that’s just the way I have always been with people. I’m very easy to get along with, easy to talk to.”
The sum, at Cambrian, is greater than the parts, and it works largely because of the incredible bond that the troika have built. “It’s good to have
competent minds that are first and foremost loyal,” said Politi. “That’s the first and foremost trait that is key within the staff.”
“I look to Dayna and Matt to always be devil’s advocate. It’s good to have that, and be able to get that 360 degree feedback.” Though he might easily
leave the casual onlooker with the feeling of being completely unapproachable, that is not at all the case with Politi, at least not in the minds of those
who work so closely with him.
“Yes, he’s got his “A” (coaching) license in several countries, and he’s working on his inter-continental license, but he will always sit down and say,
“hey, what do you think?”, noted Binks. “We are always open to giving our suggestions. Sometimes they are taken, sometimes not. It might not seem like he’s
very flexible, but he is, and he does listen.”
If Binks is the warm and fuzzy, then Corelli is the theoretical, the student of the game, looking to work her way towards developing the same kind of
in-game assessment skills as the man with whom she can endlessly discuss the beautiful game.
“I think that I am very committed to what I am doing,” she said. “I realize the value in studying every detail in how you approach a game. You don’t
just go out in a formation and hope for the best. You always want to have your own flavour and personality, but at the end of the day, you have to bring
the correct knowledge.”
“You can watch and play the game for your whole life, but until you mentor under someone like Giuseppe, you don’t fully realize the critical tactical
changes that you can make – and he can certainly point that out,” Corelli said with a laugh.
“I’ve coached her, we’ve both sort of gone through the same school of coaching with the OSA (Ontario Soccer Association) and CSA (Canadian
Soccer Association),” said Politi. “We do complement each other that way.”
Together, they continue to guide, with the likes of Stephane Legrand and others being gradually added on board, the Cambrian soccer programs,
into new and uncharted territories, achieving goals that rival they very best teams in the OCAA.