The 16-year-old Premier Soccer Academy is now a Red Bank resident.
As of Thursday, Pedro Kozak’s youth organization holds practices on fields behind Red Bank High School, where the middle school has been built.
For a change, the PSA is not sharing space with another youth association. It has to work around only the school teams, and RBHS coach Wade Il Vento and principal Justin Robertson said they expect that conflict to be minimal. Kozak normally directs two teams on one field at 5:30 and two others at 7:30 on the evenings of practice, and Il Vento said his school practices are done by 5.
“We think this is something that will help Pedro out and hopefully help the school and Wade’s soccer program,” Robertson said this week. “Pedro mainly will use our soccer field, but there are two practice football fields there, too.”
Formerly based at Middle Valley, Kozak’s teams have most recently worked out of Camp Jordan Park along with first the East Ridge Soccer Association and then the East Ridge Futbol Club, the latter under city direction. In effect, two groups have been competing for some of the same space and players.
“I have the utmost respect for Pedro Kozak. He is an excellent coach,” said Stump Martin, the director of recreation for East Ridge. “But having two programs sharing the same fields is like having two cooks in the same kitchen.”
Kozak has used North River YMCA facilities through the years as well.
Il Vento pointed out that the Red Bank fields are new and drain well.
“We think it’s just a good partnership,” Robertson said. “We’ve got these nice facilities, and having someone like Pedro to provide excellent coaching and to help us maintain them is a plus.”
PSA has won a lot of tournaments since its founding in 1997. Kozak, a 64-year-old former Argentine First Division player and professional and Canadian youth national coach, has been coaching for 37 years. He currently directs five boys’ teams and a girls’ team.
“I’ve had a lot of players the six years I’ve been here who played for Pedro, and I’m excited to have him over here with us,” Il Vento said. “I’ve known about Pedro since I came down here from New Jersey. He’s a great coach and he runs a real disciplined program.
“Having him work here is going to help the city of Red Bank. We don’t have a youth program here.”
<em>Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.</em>