Reflections Holiday Issue | Volume 17, Number 5 - Page 44

PEOPLE and PLACES

they say time flies when you are having fun , and that is certainly true for young Liam Fleming when talking about his beloved game of soccer . This year , at just 20 years old , he was awarded Coach of the Year for Georgia Soccer .

The award is given to a person for their outstanding contribution to youth soccer . Nominees are submitted by the community : players , parents , peers , and the Georgia soccer board of directors . There is no pun intended when saying this nomination alone is a goal in and of itself , with over 4,000 coaches and administrators state-wide in the possible running .
For Liam ’ s mother , Deborah Fleming , it seems like 2007 was only yesterday , but its been 14 years since her son Liam was just a wee 6-year old soccer-loving kid from England joining the Richmond Hill Soccer Club . “ A parent who we met at the recreation practices / games spotted Liam and asked if we ' d be interested in enrolling him for the Academy award . “ He said he was not at all surprised ,” she beams , and it doesn ’ t sound like anyone who knows or has watched Liam around the game is surprised by his obvious talent and path to success .
“ People used to tell me all the time that I would make a great coach some day , and it wasn ’ t because I was the best on the field ,” Liam says . “ I ’ ve just always had a great vision for the game .”
Liam was brought up not just playing the game , but also watching it be played and says he feels this is how he gained the insight and knowledge of the game and is what led him to leadership roles within the teams he played . “ It wasn ' t just us , but most soccer related folks he came in contact with who would all comment that ‘ one day he ' d make a great coach ,’” Deborah adds . “ His teammates , their parents , his club coaches , high school coaches , not to mention our friends and family from England who saw this in him . He has a " talent " for reading

reading the

team ( must ' ve been the British accent , he assumed Liam would be good at soccer ),” she recalls . Liam started playing soccer competitively at just four years old , but his mother says he has been kicking a ball around since he could stand up . “ We have a photo of Liam with his first soccer ball . His Grandad bought it for him . He was just about able to walk . He would wobble along the sofa and kick the ball at the same time !” she adds . “ He has honestly only ever been interested in playing soccer .”
Deborah recalls a recent run in where she got to tell Liam ’ s very first coach in Richmond Hill , Mohammed Mustafa , about his recent the game . He understands what ' s going well and what ' s not going so well , and seems to have at least one solution to fix it . He ' s commented on British Premier League games from a very young age and would often spend hours analyzing and discussing games with us and his grandparents ... and anyone else who would listen ! Fact is , he was usually right in what he was saying !”
At the end of Liam ’ s junior year of high school , he was given the Coaches Award . His mother laughs recalling the coach saying at the end of the banquet that he ’ d often been heard asking , ‘ What would Liam do ?’
42 RichmondHillRef lections . com