Shaun Maher is retired from playing professional soccer in Europe, but he’s still sharing his knowledge of the game with younger players.
Maher, the brother of Fayetteville Academy assistant soccer coach Jimmy Maher, held a camp for local soccer players recently at Fayetteville Academy.
A veteran of professional play in England and Ireland, Maher said he brought a different voice and his own perspective of the game to his young students.
“My philosophy is pass and attack, and I’m just trying to pass that on, help the players with certain tools that will help them in their application (of the game),’’ Maher said.
Maher said the biggest difference between European soccer and the American game is that American youngsters don’t get enough playing time during their developmental years.
“They play seven months of the year then move on to other sports,’’ he said. “You need 10,000 contact hours before the age of 18. Kids here aren’t giving themselves the proper chance because they’re not reaching half of that.’’
There was much criticism of American soccer nationally this year when the United States men’s team failed to qualify for the recently-completed World Cup.
Maher said he agrees with comments made by national pundits who say one big problem with American soccer is that the nation’s top athletes are generally drawn to play sports like football and basketball.
“The population here is vast, the athletes are here, but you’ve got so many sports competing against soccer,’’ Maher said.
To change the soccer culture in this country, Maher said soccer needs to provide more pathways to develop players. “You need to look at the pathways for American players (into the pro game),’’ Maher said. “The resources are being sent elsewhere.’’
Two local players who attended Maher’s clinic said he gave them different perspectives on the game.
One was Terry Sanford’s Talia Parrous, who just days earlier had played and scored a goal for the East All-Stars in the annual North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star game in Greensboro.
Since Maher’s clinic, Parrous has reported for her freshman season on the soccer team at UNCWilmington.
“I really like what he does,’’ Parrous said of Maher. “He brings something new I don’t get a lot of the time. He has different creative drills, more technical.
“He’s big into fitness. I’m trying to step up my fitness, and doing three hours of soccer is one way to do it. It’s like a professional coach, so it gives me something good to get into.’’
Cortez Herring will be a junior at Fayetteville Academy this fall. Herring liked Maher’s focus on high-intensity training and defensive pressure, trying to win the ball back.
“He teaches different ways to help us get to the next level,’’ Herring said.