Toys for Tots: Etienne brings Haitian flair to NVSC Jr. Royals 97
By Roger Gonzalez
Hans Etienne isn’t your average youth coach. He doesn’t play American-style soccer — in fact, the Haitian-American coach’s team doesn’t play any style routinely seen throughout the world.
The coach of NVSC Jr. Royals 97 (Va.) led his squad into Under-15 play at the PWSI Toys for Tots Tournament against FPYC Golden Eagles (Va.) on Saturday. With the kids hoping to get exposure to college scouts in the coming years, the coach had a plan.
“[We know] what the college coaches want,” Etienne said.
“The idea is, when we [play in front of] college coaches, we want them to see a style of play and see players that they can incorporate. Flat four, the outside midfielders pinch inside…consistent pressure.”
The coach has a distinct mentality. He allows his defenders to roam far forward, he lets any player do more or less what they want on the field. As long as they have fun, for him, it’s what matters most.
“We want these guys to unleash hell, attack all day long,” Etienne said.
“Our right back, you would have thought he was a right forward.”
It’s dangerous, tactically speaking, and Saturday provided evidence of that. His squad led 2-0 but ended up tying 2-2 in its early game.
“Defensively, it requires them to understand the discipline,” Etienne said. “You don’t start defending when they are attacking, you start defending when you are attacking.
“It’s not bad. These kids are intelligent…You have to make sure they are consistent.”
Having his players pressure high and attack with numbers should have gotten the team the win, says the coach, as chance after chance was created.
“We must’ve had like six clear opportunities after the two goals,” the coach said. “We missed two open nets and two one-on-ones with the ‘keeper. Don’t get me wrong, they were great saves.”
The coach hopes that for the rest of the tournament his team could improve, that the team can put together this attacking soccer style for the duration of a game.
NVSC Jr. Royals 97 have registered five goals in two games, but allowing six has left the team with one point after two matches. They will now need a win tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. against PWSI Courage 97 White (Va.), while needing FPYC Golden Eagles to tie or lose to first-place BAC Blue Thunder (Va.)
Etienne isn’t much for results, which in some ways makes him a rare breed in modern youth coaching.
“The idea is, we want American soccer where it [has a] little flair,” he said. “There is no flair. It’s very militant. We tell guys in the back, go up top, have some fun…The thing is, you incorporate those things in the practice…Create that competitive environment and have fun.
“Let guys realize their culture. When you have Hispanic players, [or those with] Italian background, they have to tap into their roots. Hispanic players, you have to dance a little bit with the ball…They don’t dance enough. Have some fun. I told the guys, ‘I need to see a little cha-cha, a little samba.’”