20 Questions Vol IV: Meet Thomas Shenton


1.  Where are you from?

I grew up and lived in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England until I was 22.
2.  When did you begin playing soccer?
I’m not exactly sure of my age but very young.  It’s all I remember doing!
3.  What clubs or organizations did you play for?
My youth consisted of playing for Branton Juniors FC which was my local Sunday league club who played at the local High School fields.
4.  How is club soccer different or the same in England as compared to here?
The biggest difference of all is girls. In the States, girls are equals if not superiors in the world of soccer which is a breath of fresh air in my opinion.  Following that the attitude towards the sport.  Young English “Football” players are engrained with a passion for the sport that kids in the US don’t come close to.  However, I will add that I see kids in the US becoming more and more passionate each year I work in the US but it’s still generations away.
5.  Some of your family members and relatives have played professionally.  Which ones and where?
I have been surrounded by professionals growing up… The most famous being my Grandma’s brothers Jimmy and Brian Greenhoff who are best know for playing side by side for Manchester United in the 70’s.  After that, my uncle also briefly played for United and in the second tier in the German league.  My brother James and cousin Daniel also came close to playing professionally in the last five years but as we all know professional sport is tough to get into.
6.  Who is your favorite club team?
Going against my families’ tradition, I am an Arsenal fan.
7.  What are your favorite 3 movies of all time?
Always a tough one but I would have to say: The Prestige; Madagascar 2 and Catch Me If You Can. 
8.  You and your wife are expecting your first child soon, how did you meet your wife (introduce her please).  
We certainly are!  I met my beautiful wife (Ashley) through coaching.  I was unknowingly coaching her youngest sister in Katy, TX and she definitely caught my eye when she came to pick her up on the last day of a camp, as they say.  The rest is history, we married two years later and have settled down in Beaumont, TX mainly because of my job.  She is currently studying to be a nurse and getting prepared for motherhood.  She is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
9.  What position(s) did you play as a youth?  At College?
Growing up, I was alway a right winger or forward because of my pace.  At College, they had a couple of odd formations that required me to play as a wing back or right wing.
10.  What is your current job?  How did you arrive at this job? 
I am currently the Director of Training for Beaumont Youth Soccer Club which also encompasses the Gusher United program.  I was first exposed to Beaumont through my work with Challenger Sports (a coaching company that hires British coaches to coach in America) after a four month stint running some small skills programs, I was offered the job and have been grateful ever since I started in 2011.
11.  How does youth soccer in America compare/contrast with youth soccer in England?
This has been a topic that has only really become apparent to me in the last year as I have been educating myself in America.  England has a very old school approach to youth soccer even in some of the professional clubs.  A classic example being the age that players start playing 11v11 averaging about 10 years old.   In contrast, American youth soccer seem to be one step ahead and the atmosphere is very encouraging everywhere you look here in the States.  England has a big campaign to change it’s ways which again highlights the stubbornness of the English game as America evolves.
12.  Is there a difference in girl’s youth soccer in American as compared to England?
As mentioned earlier there is a huge difference in girls soccer but the main contrast is the stereotypes that come with the sport.  In the US, soccer is seen as feminine, sporty and cool.  Whereas, English girls are deemed butch, outcasted and definitely unsupported compared to the States.  It’s a shocking difference and one that has seen the US Women’s team become the best in the world.
13.  What is your favorite food?
Chocolate – It’s just great.  
14.  What current professional player do you most resemble in style of play?
James Milner mixed with Emmanuel Eboue, probably why I didn’t make it pro.
15.  What style of play do your prefer to watch?  Coach?  Play?
I prefer a very direct (not long ball) attacking style of play that uses the wings effectively while staying organized at the back.  
16.  In 3 sentences, describe your coaching philosophy.
Players need to learn to love the game to truly get to the next level in soccer.  My philosophy involves installing players with passion and a desire to play through example and teaching the basic principles of the game.  Once a player has an intrinsic motivation towards soccer thats when the real teaching can take place. 
17.  How do you define “Player Development” as compared to “Team Development”?
Player development is to give the game back to the player and focus on what is best for the individual, weather it’s rotating positions, or encouraging them to try new skills in a game, this can take place throughout a players career.  Team Development should start at around 12 years old, focusing on player roles, tactics and phases of play, gradually teaching players how to play in different systems as they begin to understand how to apply themselves as an individual.
18.  Who is your favorite character in Adventure Time?  Fin the Human? Jake the Dog? LSP? Princess Bubblegum?  Ice King?  Marceline? 
Fin the Human of course.images-1
19.  Adidas, Nike, Umbro, or Puma?
20.  All time favorite pair of cleats? 
Adidas Predator Accelerator – 1998
21.  In 10 years, where do you see yourself? 
I see myself as a Husband and Father of a wonderful family who has changed soccer in South East Texas for generations to come by directing the Gusher United program.  I hope to achieve an A License before I am 30 and work with the ODP program in South Texas.
22.  Most inspirational person(s) to you who helped you along the way of your soccer career?  
My college coaches Ronnie Barker and John Buckley inspired me to coach and the passion for the game given to me by my Mum and Dad will always keep the fire burning to improve the game and change soccer in this area.