CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench – June 2022
“Coaching grows on you and there is a desire to keep learning, educating and helping others become the best they can.”
By David Grossman
You work hard and always try to do the right thing.
It’s fair to assume, but that’s the logical approach to life. Examining the options, chances are you’re bound to have some deliberations, questions, and setbacks. Yet, there is the ability to strive forward and make things better.
That’s the route taken by Giuseppe Politi.
Not many people residing south of Sudbury may know of this man, but that will change by the time you finish reading this story. Building relationships can be a bonus on the road to success, and Politi, has accomplished that with much prosperity.
For him, soccer has made up a good chunk of his life. It’s something he’s quite passionate about. As a 12-year-old, he was observed drawing out formations and planning strategies for a soccer team. The teen days continued to show signs of a future in coaching, while growing up in what is now Canada’s fifth largest metropolis and once known as the city that nickel built.
While Sudbury has an Ontario Hockey League team, a club in the Northern Football Conference, a National Basketball League of Canada entry, and hosted the Brier as well as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) and Pan Am championships, something is missing.
That’s soccer – a sport where Canada’s women’s team won a recent Olympic gold medal and the men qualified for the 2022 World Cup, ending a 36-year drought.
It can be a tough job building a sports venue in a part of the country where geography dictates that some 100 days a year, the temperature never rises above zero degrees Celsius. That hasn’t stopped Politi – a teacher in many ways.
After years of the community pleading for an indoor facility, things changed with a new $4.1 million soccer dome. The pandemic, yes – that one – has shut down the facility leaving soccer fans with a choice to play in the inclement weather, wait for a re-opening, hold off for the summer, or look for other opportunities.
While frustrated at times, Politi has forged ahead, doing what he can to shine the spotlight on the sport, getting people involved, coaching, advising, and so much more. A licensed coach in Canada, the United States and Europe, and short of being called “Mr. Soccer of the North”, he’s boosted soccer participation.
Politi’s priority has been focussed on a fulltime job in the classroom. For the past 13 years, he has taught at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School. He’s also coached soccer.
Juggling many hats may be a term that fits Politi, who is quite passionate about a sport that he believes deserves more notoriety. With coaching and teaching both vital, Politi continues his mission of trying to make the sport better for those residing in Northern Ontario.
“Soccer (and sport in general) has afforded me some of the best experiences and life moments,” said Politi, who credits the on-going support given to him as a player, coach, and leader, by his mother – Antonietta Politi. “It is my hope to pass it along to the next generation and improve the game in the North as best I can.”
Focussed on player development, the advancement of coaches, high performance results, governance, and standards, it all comes down to participation, knowledge, and an understanding that the sport is one of the most popular ones on the planet.
A true maverick and renaissance man who blazed his own trail, Politi has made a difference to so many.
He has taken on a technical and advisory coaching role with the Nipissing District Soccer Club in North Bay. Same focus with the Soo City United in Sault Ste. Marie, and the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club. Big task. Lots of travel. That, in addition to being a learning facilitator for Ontario Soccer, the provincial governing body for the sport.
What isn’t missing is his dedication to getting the task done well.
A native of Sudbury, Politi got hooked on the game at an early age, played soccer at St. Charles College, then briefly at St. Leo University in Tampa, and both Laurentian and Brock University, before pursuing opportunities as a coach, referee, and administrator.
“I just love soccer, put in huge hours, and spent lots of money on coaching education,” he said. “I just want to make the game better at the grassroots level, give young people an opportunity to learn, play and when the season is over, think about registering for the following year.”
Connecting with thousands of athletes, parents, and coaches, soccer to him is like flesh and blood. He just can’t live without it.
The Coaches Association of Ontario, in its popular series “Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench” singled out Politi with the 2018 Trailblazer Coach Award, recognizing his strong ability to help young players build on their skills, develop a strong knowledge of the game, and pursue it as a healthy activity for life.
“Teaching people to play soccer and others to coach is very rewarding to me,” said Politi, who has earned some of the highest coaching credentials. “One of my former coaches, Tom Ryan, hung on to a drawing that I made as a youngster with soccer formations. Some 20 years later, he gave it to me showing that, back then, he saw potential of me becoming a coach.
“Coaching grows on you and there is a desire to keep learning, educating and helping others become the best they can,” he said. “For some, its competing at a higher level while others play for fun and always need the support of a coach.”
“I just want to make the game better at the grassroots level, give young people an opportunity to learn, play and when the season is over, think about registering for the following year.”
David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.
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