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Victoria Highlanders Name Coach for 2010


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from: http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/2010wintergames/Veteran%20coach%20Bridge%20takes%20Highlanders%20helm/2644819/story.html

Veteran coach Bridge takes Highlanders' helm

Victoria opens regular season at home May 8

By Cleve Dheensaw, Times ColonistMarch 5, 2010

New Highlanders coach Ian Bridge, left, recently signed defender Tyler Hughes and GM Drew Finerty were in a good mood yesterday as the team put together some key pieces for the upcoming season.

New Highlanders coach Ian Bridge, left, recently signed defender Tyler Hughes and GM Drew Finerty were in a good mood yesterday as the team put together some key pieces for the upcoming season.

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

From coaching in the Summer Olympics and women's World Cup to the Victoria Highlanders, Ian Bridge has taken the long route home.

"It's a new stage in my career and an exciting day for me," said Bridge, after being announced yesterday as the new head coach of the Highlanders.

He will guide the United Soccer League Premier Development club for the 2010 season, which opens May 1 when the Highlanders host Abbotsford in a Coastal Capital Cup exhibition at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford in preparation for the league opener May 8 at the stadium against Vancouver Whitecaps Academy.

"It's a development league and that's one of my strengths as a coach," said the Vic High grad.

"Victoria has always produced great young soccer talent. Ultimately, if I do my job, players will be leaving this club [for pro levels]."

He could have been talking about himself. Bridge came out of Lakehill to forge a pro career with the Seattle Sounders and in Switzerland. He was brilliant on the back line as a mobile defender capped 34 times with Team Canada and played in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and 1986 World Cup.

"When you've played all your life and have no other skills, you go into coaching," said Bridge, with self-deprecating humour.

That he did. Bridge coached the UVic Vikes women's team for 11 years. He has been assistant national team women's coach at three World Cups and the run to the quarter-finals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. As head coach, Bridge guided the Canadian Under-20 women's team at four World Cups, winning the silver medal in 2002, and at two Pan American Games, winning silver in 2003.

Bridge was coaching the national team Under-17 girls when he parted ways with the Canadian Soccer Association in January over differences. The Highlanders, meanwhile, were coachless after Colin Miller, who guided the club in its inaugural 2009 season, left to become assistant coach of the pro Vancouver Whitecaps.

When Bridge became available, the Highlanders jumped at the opportunity.

"Ian is the poster boy for what we want to do in the Highlanders organization," said team GM Drew Finerty.

"We want to develop Island players up to the pro ranks and to eventually wear the maple leaf on their jersey and represent Canada on the international stage."

Bridge cited former women's Team Canada head coach Even Pellerud, who he served under for many years, as his greatest coaching influence. Bridge said he sees little difference between coaching male and female players.

"Maybe there are some subtle nuances when it comes to communication, but in terms of technical and tactical content, there is no difference," he said.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders announced their first two signings: Defender Tyler Hughes of Victoria played NCAA at Coastal Carolina and pro in the Swedish Division 1 and goalkeeper Trevor Stiles, Canada West MVP and former CIS champion with the UVic Vikes, played pro for the Whitecaps and was in camp with Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS.

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