Former Premier League goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar guards the cage for the West Side Monarchs in this 2013 photo. — Star file photo
Bruce Grobbelaar may have taken a gig as a keeper coach with a professional outfit, but he’s still very much interested in keeping close ties with the local soccer community.
Grobbelaar — a former star keeper with Liverpool of the English Premier League — came to terms with the Ottawa Fury FC of the North American Soccer League on a deal that will make him the goalkeeping coach for the balance of the 2014 season.
“I think it’s a brilliant offer,” Grobbelaar said. “They want me here as the keeper coach and I’m happy to come in and oblige. I just hope that we don’t concede too many goals from now until the end of the season.”
Born in South Africa, but raised in Rhodesia (which would become Zimbabwe), the 56-year-old has been lending his expertise in a coaching capacity with the Corner Brook Minor Soccer Association for the past few months. He also finds time to play keeper for the West Side Monarchs of the Corner Brook men’s soccer league.
As part of his coaching role, he will have some free time on his hands to travel back to the city, although it will be limited. He won’t be travelling with the Fury on the road, so when the schedule sees the guys packing for a road trip it’s his weekend off. When that happens, he may be able to put the cleats back on for a few weekend games with the Monarchs and probably help out the youngsters on Wellington.
He is also free during the winter months, so coaching kids is something he would entertain.
“When I come back I can be used in the winter program if they so choose,” he said.
Corner Brook minor soccer president Bruce Keating wasn’t aware Grobbelaar was working on signing his contract Tuesday when contacted to comment on the departure of the highly-touted soccer personality.
He said the association was disappointed when it came to light that Grobbelaar was seeking to enhance his coaching resume because it was only one week into the summer program when it surfaced, but at the same time the executive was understanding of his desire to get his feet into the professional waters.
“So, we don’t have any concerns from that perspective and we kind of adjusted our staffing and programming, so they’ve carried on relatively seamlessly,” he said.
Keating sees his departure as a loss because the association has put a lot of effort into securing his coaching services, going back to December of last year when the two sides began discussions about coming on board. Keating said it was nice to have Grobbelaar involved since he’d been in the city for five years before he got involved in the coaching aspect.
Keating was hoping the two sides would work on building a relationship in his smaller role to see where it went. Now, it’s not something he can’t think about because there are no guarantees what will happen when Grobbelaar’s contract ends Nov. 15 with the Fury.
However, he’s quick to point out the association would always be willing to entertain an offer to have somebody of Grobbelaar’s stature involved with the grooming of budding soccer players coming up the ranks. He said the association is always open to taking advantage of any kind of knowledge or experience living in the community.
He said it would be nice to have him back at some point, but cautions that the executive also wants to ensure stability for all hands to provide a solid program to the youngsters.
“We also need to know that if he’s going to commit to a role in the future that he’s committed to that role and will see it through,” he said. “If there’s a way to do it that it works for him and it works for us then that’s always a conversation we will be open to.”