Coaching Staff

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Stephen Carson

Director of Academy
stephen.carson@fcwestchester.com

Stephen Carson, FC Westchester's Academy Director

 

Former Northern Ireland Internationalist Stephen Carson was named FC Westchester’s academy director in 2018. Carson has seven years of coaching experience since his retirement from playing in the Irish league in 2014.

 

Playing experience

 

Carson began his professional soccer career in 1997 with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers. He played for several British professional teams over a seven-year period before returning to Northern Ireland and joining Coleraine Football Club, where as a winger he scored 65 goals in 300 appearances between 2004 and 2014. He also spent two years with Glentoran Football Club winning the Irish Cup in 2013. He made his International debut for Northern Ireland against Italy in June 2009.

 

Why I coach

 

I went into coaching because I wanted to help kids develop to play the right way and prepare them to be the best they can be. I am passionate about our teams having an attractive style of play and players who are not afraid to express themselves in a positive way. I want FC Westchester to be a club that instills good values in our players and helps them get to a professional club or good college.

 

Education

 

Carson has a degree in sport and exercise science from the University of Ulster. He also has a UEFA A License and USSF A-Youth License.

 

Personal

 

Carson was born and raised in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. He immigrated to the United States in 2015 and he lives in Easton, Connecticut with his wife Paula and daughter Pippa.

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George Gjokaj

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Danillo Andrade

Director of Youth Soccer

danillo.andrade@fcwestchester.com

Danillo Andrade, FC Westchester youth soccer director

 

Danilo Andrade began working with FC Westchester in 2017, but his relationship with the club stretches through most of his life. Growing up in Danbury, Connecticut Andrade played with AC Caldo, a youth soccer team that often competed against FC Westchester’s youth teams. During college Andrade coached youth soccer in summer camps. A sports injury ended Andrade’s playing, so he channeled his love for the game into coaching.

 

Playing experience

 

Andrade played for Danbury High School, where he was All-FCIAC selection. At Southern New Hampshire University his team was the 2013 NCAA National Champion. He was a three-time NE-10 Tournament champion and three-time NE-10 regular season champion. Post-college he played with AC Connecticut, Sea Coast United and Western Massachusetts Pioneers.

 

 

Why I coach

It’s a passion and it doesn’t feel like work. As the youth soccer director, I’ve seen kids arrive when they’re little and by the time they reach U12 they’re taller than you. On the soccer field the youths with FC Westchester training really fight and train. Our club provides an opportunity based on their skills and not their age, which is very satisfying for me.

 

Education

 

Andrade graduated from Southern New Hampshire State University with a double major in advertising and marketing.

 

Personal data

 

Andrade is a group project engineer and assistant project manager for the Morgante Group. He was born in Para, Brazil and he emigrated to the United States as a child and settled in Danbury.

 

Socia media

 

Instagram: @danillobandrade

Twitter: danlilo118

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Stephen Burnstin

Technical Director of Girls Program

steve.burnstin@fcwestchester.com

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    Almar Pali

Almar Pali, FC Westchester Coach

 

Almar Pali is a well-known soccer coach in Westchester County. He has worked with FC Westchester since 2014. He is the head coach at the Keio Academy in Purchase and he has also coached soccer at White Plains High School. Professionally, Pali played with the former Grand Rapids Explosion. While pursuing a pro-soccer career, Pali met coach Erwin Van Elst, who taught him the Dutch style of play. Besides youth coaching, Pali is involved in all aspects of adult coach development, from teaching to licensing.

 

Playing experience

 

Pali played soccer in high school, an experience that was not as competitive as he would have liked. At 18, he went pro as an outside wing with the former Grand Rapids Explosion for four years. An ACL injury ended his professional career. At FC Westchester Pali has coached the U15 and U13 teams.

 

Why I coach

 

The only thing that drives me is the joy that I get out of giving back to these kids. I want them to go through the experiences I had in my life and I want them to be the best they can be. Thats what I believe in. Money is not a motivation for me. If I could do this for free I wouldnt mind doing it.

 

Education

 

Pali studied computer science at  Westchester Community College and then won a full scholarship from Dominican College, where he played on their NCAA Division II soccer team. He also has a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from Mercy College.

 

Personal data

 

Pali was born and raised in Albania until the age of 13. In 1991, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He moved to New York in 1999 and he lives in White Plains.

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    Blas Cardozo

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    Massimo Gargiulo

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    Sofrone "Roni" Bacula

Sofrone Ronnie Bacula, FC Westchester Youth Soccer Coach

 

Ronnie Bacula began coaching with FC Westchester in 2016 after eight years coaching at FC Transylvania. In 2011, Bacula won the Westchester Youth Soccer Leagues Double Goal Award for his coaching work with FC Transylvanias White Storm B9. In 2018 Bacula led FC Westchesters U15 boys team to the state cup final.

 

Playing experience

 

Bacula played soccer for half a season in the Romanian first division league. He could not continue his professional soccer career because it was financially insecure in Romanias early post-Communist period. In New York he played with several adult teams, including the New York Hermès, New York Centaurs, New York Serbia and New York Pancyprian.

 

Why I coach

 

Its my passion to teach the kids and to make them love this game. Im trying to improve them and give them all the knowledge about this sport. When I see talent in the little ones, I feel like I accomplish something to see them improve every day and I feel so good that I can teach them.

 

Education

 

Bacula attended a polytechnic college in Romania and he was trained to be a project technician in a coal power plant, where he worked for 11 years.

 

Personal data

 

Bacula was born and raised in Romania during the Communist era when the former government made big investments in sports. At the age of 13, Bacula won the national Romanian championship for pole vaulting. He emigrated to the United States in 1994 and he lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.

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    Ardit Bozo

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    Kevin Ipina

Kevin Ipina, FC Westchester coach

 

Kevin Ipina joined FC Westchester in 2019 and he coaches the youth 10 girls and youth 12 boys. He also assists with the youth 10 boys team. His relationship with the club began years earlier when he recommended players to George Gjokaj. He also routinely visited the club’s training sessions and games while still playing semi-professionally.

 

Playing experience

 

Ipina began playing soccer as a teen at Danbury High School, where he served as team captain. In college he played for Post University, where he was the only freshman starter on an older and more experienced team. As captain he led the team to the 2013: Daktronics Third Team All-America, NSCAA/Continental Tire Second Team All-East Region and the First Team All-CACC. in 2014 Ipina signed a professional contract with the Polish soccer club LKS Lomza of III Liga. After returning to the United States he played in 2015 for Connecticut United FC in the American Soccer League. In 2017 he signed with Elm City Express in the National Premier Soccer league and won a national championship.

 

 

Why I coach

 

Some people may call me crazy but this game has given me so many opportunities. It’s the least I can do to give back. I come from a family that migrated here from Guatemala. If you saw how people live there, trust me, people would say I’m blessed with the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve been able to meet. Soccer is a vehicle to learn many lessons in life: discipline, respect, creating meaningful relationships. I love being a coach.

 

Education

 

Ipina has a business administration degree from Post University

 

Personal

 

Ipina was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, where he currently lives.

 

Social media

 

Instagram: @kevinipina and @90plusot

Twitter: @kevinipina_

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    Julian Grajales

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    Mirsad Huseinovic

Mirsad Huseinovic, FC Westchester coach

 

Mirsad Huseinovic, known as Miro, joined FC Westchester in 2020 after moving to Westchester County, but he has known FC Westchester founder George Gjokaj since they were teenagers. Huseinovic played professionally in the American Professional Soccer League and Major League Soccer. He has coached soccer players for about 16 years.

 

Playing experience

 

Huseinovic has played with many teams. He played for Brooklyn College and he served as captain of the team for two years. He also played with teams in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League.   In 1991 while playing with the Brooklyn Italians his team won the U.S. Open Cup. In 1995 he signed with the New York Centaurs of the American Professional Soccer League and in 1996 he joined the MetroStars of the MLS. Subsequently played with the Greek American AA of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League.

 

Why I coach

 

It’s such a good sport to be a part of. I tried to play soccer every day of my life when I was younger. Now as a coach it’s great to pass on the knowledge to these young players coming up. It’s just enjoyable to be on the field. I don’t play any more, so coaching keeps me young.

 

Education

 

Huseinovic has a degree in fine arts from Brooklyn College.

 

Personal data

 

Huseinovic was born in Plav, Montenegro and he emigrated to the United State at the age of 5. He grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and he lives in Yonkers.

 

Socia media

 

Instagram: @mirsadmirohysenaj

Facebook: mirsadmirohysenaj