Youth soccer coach Jorge Martinez gathered his frustrated players for a half-time talk at Stewart Park.
Several times his Roseburg Soccer Association team — third-graders from Fullerton IV, Sunnyslope and Brockway schools — had moved the ball near the goal, but couldn’t get off a shot before the opposing goalie raced to the ball and scooped it up.
“They have a really good goalie,” said Martinez, 37, coaching for the first time in a sport he played many years growing up. “We’re not going to beat her to the ball, but we can kick it from outside the (goal) box.”
The boys and one girl on Martinez’s team went back out onto the field and did what their coach told them. Several shots went wide of the net but by taking his advice, the players opened up more scoring chances.
“I love it when the kids do something I taught them,” he said.
Martinez, who lives in Green and works for Roseburg Forest Products, sees himself part teacher, part cheerleader and part parent. He encourages players from the sideline, complimenting them when they make a nice move or steal the ball and consoling them when they make a mistake or get frustrated.
“Stay with it, Roberto,” he yells out as one of his players intercepts an opponent’s pass. “Nice. Nice. Nice.”
Later, his goaltender, Hayden, comes off the field, tears streaming down his face after giving up a couple of goals. Martinez puts his arm around the youngster and tries to make him feel better.
“It’s OK. You did well,” Martinez says softly.
Turning his attention back to the field, Martinez yells “pressure, pressure,” as an opposing player dribbles the ball upfield. “Good, good,” he says as one of his players takes the ball away.
Later, as his son, Cristian, plays defense and watches a ball go sideways toward the sideline, he encourages him to attack the ball.
“Get in there, mijo,” he said, using the Spanish term for “my son.”
A few minutes later, Martinez applauds one of his players, Sawyer, as the player kicks the ball from several feet left of the goal and sends it past the goalie into the right side of the net.
“Nice job,” Martinez said.
In watching other teams play in past seasons, Martinez noticed that some of the coaches didn’t have a real game plan. They just sent their players onto the field and had them react to the ball and try to get it to the goal.
Martinez wants his players doing more than just kicking the ball as hard as they can. He wants them to analyze each situation and to come up with plays to move the ball and keep it away from their opponents’ feet.
“Sometimes I try something that is too advanced for them, but it’s not just kicking the ball around,” he said.
The team has had great success, losing just one game all season. And on Saturday, his team beat a previously undefeated squad.
“All of these kids bring something to the game. They may not be the best striker, but they can play defense and stop the ball,” he said. “I never thought it was going to be this much fun.”
Martinez downplays his role in making his players better. He said he just provides them with the tools so they can go out and make the moves themselves.
“He doesn’t give himself enough credit for what he does,” wife Stephanie Martinez says.
On Saturday, one of his players, Kambria, scored her first goal in two years. That was a big thrill for the player and her coach, he said.
“I never thought it was going to be this fun,” he said, smiling.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.