Chavez plans to rebuild the El Paso Patriots
The El Paso Patriots are starting from scratch and have brought a man familiar with the team and the city to lead their new project. Francisco "Paco" Chavez, who led the team from 1996-2000, is back with a purpose and plans to make the Patriots a much more competitive team in the future.
"What we need the most right now is to bring players that are a little bit more experienced in order to have a backbone for the team. I also want to bring players from the area that are proud of the city and that are willing to play with pride for the team," Chavez said. "Of course we need to keep scouting for talent and I believe if we all work hard and do our respective job, we will have a bright future."
Chavez also said that he wants to present a detailed long-term plan to team owner, Enrique Cervantes, that will aid the team to become much more competitive. He hopes to have it all laid out for Cervantes to analyze in the upcoming weeks and start to work on it as soon as his plan is approved.
For Chavez, the immediate goal is to conduct a search for players and hold tryouts to try to integrate a better team.
He acknowledges that this year's team wasn't where he wanted it to be, due to a lack of time for training and scouting, but he believes that there is great talent in El Paso yet to be discovered.
"It's just a matter of finding it and then preparing them physically, technically and mentally," Chavez said. "I came on short notice and had inexperienced players in the team, but they managed to play a lot better in the final three games and we learned a lot from this season to carry for next year."
The 2013 PDL (Premier Development League) season, which took place from May to July, saw the Patriots win one game, tie three and lose 10.
"In the last stretch the team began to play good soccer. We couldn't get positive results all season long, but we lost many players down the stretch, which made it very difficult to have training with all of the teammates," said Naoyas Aizawa, Patriots forward and industrial engineering major at UTEP. "I'm sure our opponents saw the change and they will not like facing us next season because we are going to be much better."
Chavez is an experienced head coach and a former professional player. He began his career with Veracruz, but played most of his career for the Tecos (Owls) from the UAG (Universidad AutÃ³noma de Guadalajara) and the Cobras from Ciudad JuÃ¡rez toward the end of his career. He played almost 20 years in the Mexican League.
The Cobras gave Chavez his first managerial job, and it was this job that opened the possibility of coaching the Patriots for the first time in 1996.
Despite having some success, the system proved to be a big challenge for Chavez, who left the team in 2000.
"It's a very different system. Here, young players get offered scholarships to go and play at the collegiate level. In this way, we lost six very good players," Chavez said about his previous experience. "By the time we would get to regionals and state, while on our way to nationals, college scouts were already trying to take some of our players."
After running into Cervantes again in early 2013, Chavez accepted the opportunity to come to El Paso once more.
The current Patriots players have praised the work Chavez has done and said that they got better because of him. There will be changes with the team, but defender Noel Hernandez said he feels confident good things will come for them in the upcoming seasons.
"He really came in to work with all of us on an individual level, he has vast experience in the game and has very good ideas," Hernandez said. "Thanks to him, the team got a lot smarter toward the end and now we have a lot of time until next April when the next season begins and we'll have a lot of time to work together."
The PDL is not a professional league and its players don't get paid. The team, therefore, relies on constant recruiting of college and high school players. Even when good players are found colleges and universities often recruit them, leaving several teams short-handed.
"There is an entity here and the people need to come out and support the team, this team is the representation of the city", Chavez said. "I feel sorry for the results we have been obtaining lately, but I'm not giving up yet. I know we are not very strong right now, but I believe in the team, they have the talent to go forth, but they also need the training to keep getting better."
Ruben Villarreal Jr. and Edwin Delgado may be reached at email@example.com.
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