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UAH soccer gains new coach, field lights and motivation

UAH Charger Kyle Simmons moves the ball downfield. (CONTRIBUTED)
UAH Charger Kyle Simmons moves the ball downfield. (CONTRIBUTED)

HUNTSVILLE – This fall, lights and a new coach will be shining for men’s soccer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

“Matt Watts was by far the best candidate because of his soccer knowledge, experience level in the Gulf South Conference, work ethic and high energy level,” UAH Director of Athletics Dr. E. J. Brophy said. “He is committed to academic excellence and team discipline and has excellent leadership qualities. He relates well to players at the college level,” Brophy said.

A native of London, Watts, 27, moved to the United States at 19 after release from the professional Premier League. “I needed an education. The USA was the best place to manage football (soccer) and a university degree,” Watts said.

UAH attracted Watts for its “excellent reputation in both athletics and academia. UAH soccer (can) be a powerhouse in the Gulf South Conference,” he said.

Previously, Watts was assistant coach at the University of West Florida and head coach at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. He was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

Field lights will be “a massive benefit to the team.” Previously, they were playing in the heat at 3 p.m. while fans were at their jobs. “We hope to gain a huge increase in attendance and get a sense of home-field advantage,” Watts said.

“We’re keeping this group together for a minimum of two years,” Watt said. Thirteen players are new, with 12 returning. “Our biggest weakness is getting to know each other, on and off the field. We need this team to gel quickly.”

Local players are Brent DeSilva of Madison and Sam Jobe, Nathan Strouth and Johnny Trinh of Huntsville. New international players are Yuri Ivanov (Brazil), James Ballamy (England), Hermann Bjornsson (Iceland), Leo De Smedt (France), Florent Girardin (Switzerland) and Anthony Benitez (Venezuela).

The men’s first game ‘under the lights’ will be Sept. 13 versus Shorter University.

For more information, call 256-824-5425, email to mtw0011@uah.edu or visit uahsoccercamps.com.

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