MacEwan University Soccer Coach Dean Cordeiro explains why he recruits character over talent
By: Patrick Connolly
Dean Cordeiro was never the flashy player on the pitch.
“I wasn’t the most gifted player in terms of talent,” Dean says. What Dean had, however, was the character he still brings with him as the coach of MacEwan University’s Women’s soccer team and as technical director of Footie Camp.
“My coaches would say I’m hard working…I could run and run and run. My best attribute was my fitness level,” says Dean. His hard work landed him as a captain on some high level teams as a youngster, first at the club level, then captaining the Concordia Thunder in his final two years to a national championship.
“I was all business,” Dean said. “I tried to get everyone on the same page, made sure we were all focussed. I took everything seriously.”
It may be because his coaching career overlapped with his playing, but he took the same philosophy he had so much success with as a player and built himself a coaching career. Not all at once, though. He started out coaching a men’s team his friends were playing before he turned twenty. They were in division six.
“It’s taken a lot of losses,” Dean said. “That’s for sure.”
Under Dean, that men’s league team rose up the ranks to play amongst the best tiers in both indoor and outdoor soccer in the city. That led to opportunities to coach the women’s team at his alma mater, Concordia, where he eventually won a national championship. Dean began coaching the MacEwan University women’s soccer team after his stint at Concordia and won a national championship there, too.
What made him successful as a player, and then eventually a coach, has also made him successful as a teambuilder. “I was more of a piece of a puzzle than a game changer,” he said about his playing career. His own teams reflect that ideology. There are those players out there that are extremely talented, which seemingly any coach would love to have. But for Dean, this isn’t necessarily true. If that piece does not fit his puzzle, it’s better left in the box. “For me, it’s the culture of the team that’s number one,” Dean said. “I’ll take a kid that wants it really bad that may not be the most gifted player.”
Dean wants a player just like his coaches got. Someone who is going to come to games and practices and work hard, every day. He wants someone with good character; someone who can be a team player. For Dean, those traits have to start young. But they can’t be drilled.
“When you make it a chore or put too much pressure on the little guys, they may start to be resistant to it,” he said. “They may start to dislike it.” According to Dean, the best way to get someone to work hard at soccer is to get them to love the game first. “It’s all about giving a kid a ball and just letting them try things.”