New head coach of the Bison Women’s soccer team Hayden Sloane-Seale grew up in Winnipeg and played here are a youth, called into the Canadian Youth national team program for the Under 16s. Sloane-Seale attended U of M for several years, but ultimately finished his undergraduate degree at the Adelphi University where he also played for their men’s soccer team for three years – two of which he was team captain.
Sloane-Seale got into coaching during his time as a graduate student at Western Illinois University. There he was an assistant in the men’s program and then the women’s program. For the nine years that followed, Sloane-Seale was a coach for the Challenge Soccer Club in Houston, Texas. Just last year he returned to Canada, and to the U of M.
Sloane-Seale spoke with the Manitoban about himself, the team, and their upcoming season.
The Manitoban: What brought you back to the U of M?
In the summer of 2011, my family and I moved back [to Winnipeg] and we settled back here. I was from here originally so it was home for me.
I was fortunate enough when I got back that the head coach here Chris Lewis invited me to come help out with the team, and I jumped at the chance because it was a great opportunity to stay involved in the game I love. He ended up resigning his position last November, and so I applied for the full-time position and I have been the Head Coach as of June 1.
M: Do you foresee any challenges in the future as you take up this new position?
HS: Obviously it’s a lot busier being a head coach. They’ve just recently made it a full-time position as of June 1, which is a big step in the right direction. There are huge challenges, I think, going forward in terms of we’d love to be able to say to all our players we have on our roster, “Hey listen, we could [award a] scholarship and give you so much money” but that’s just not the case in the soccer program – we’re not funded to that extent.
I know the Athletics department would love for us to be better funded, and for all the other sports programs to be better funded, but unlike the States that’s just not quite how it works here. So that’s a big challenge – being able to offer scholarships to good players that might otherwise go somewhere else because they can get more money somewhere else, not that it’s necessarily more money because to stay here in Winnipeg and play at the university doesn’t cost a student athlete much money anyway, but that being said that’s one of the challenges.
Not being able to have a full-time staff is certainly another one of the challenges we face here. We have to rely a lot upon people’s good will and volunteerism to help make the program go and be as successful as we want it to be.
The last and probably the biggest challenge is that there are some really good players here in the province and to get those good players to want to stay here and play for the university is a challenge. We’ve lost a couple of players we were hoping to get not for this upcoming season, but for the 2013-14 season, who are very good players.
M: Last year the team had a 2-9-3 record and sat eighth overall in their league. Looking forward to the upcoming season, what are the goals for this year?
HS: The goal definitely is to make the playoffs. I think once you get in the playoffs you’re in a position where anything can happen, especially in the game of soccer [ . . . ] Further down the road is to win the CanWest title and then maybe even a national championship.
M: Are there many changes to the roster, or will we be seeing many of the same players as last year?
HS: There’s going to be quite a few changes to the roster. We’re bringing in ten new faces into the program this year. Just through graduation we’ve lost three or four players, and then there are a couple kids who have eligibility that probably won’t come back because they’ve moved on. Overall we’re probably losing eight or nine players and we’re bringing in ten new players. We’re in for some big changes. It’s going to be difficult, but I think the core of the group is relatively the same as last year.
As of right now we have 26 on the roster: three goal keepers and 23 field players, and we still may had one, two, three, or even four players as we start pre-season in August.
M: Former Bison Desiree Scott has recently been called up to be on the 18 women team Canada squad that will be representing Canada in the women’s soccer during the upcoming London Olympics. What kind of impact, if any, does such an accomplishment by a former U of M women’s soccer player have on the players and on the program?
HS: I think her ability to have a huge influence is definitely there. Des was an assistant last year with the program and I think it’s a great benefit to have somebody with that sort of experience be part of your program. Obviously she’s a very good player, and she’s certainly interested in getting involved in the coaching side of it as she becomes a little bit older. Having her involved is a massive benefit to the program because you get to see a great home grown example of a player that didn’t go away, a very good player who had opportunities to go away if she wanted to, decided to stay here and play her soccer here at the university, did very well, and now is, in my opinion, one of the top three or four players representing us at the Olympics.