Posted On September 29, 2016 by PUSC
Placer United Soccer Club is ranked as one of the fastest growing soccer clubs on the West Coast and this can largely be attributed to their incredible staff, focus on player development and equal commitment to athleticism and attitude. With more than 650 registered players, this nonprofit, community-based, competitive club that was founded more than 30 years ago, would not be where it is today without a few key leaders that set the tone and implement what this club stands for each and every day.
Paul O’Brien, who serves as the director of soccer operations, is one of those key people. His dedication to Placer United is matched by his love for the game and the vision he has for the young players who call Placer United home. O’Brien, who was born and raised in Ireland, began playing organized soccer when he was around 8-years-old and has never looked back.
“The night before I flew out to California I played my very last competitive soccer game in Ireland and it was played in one of Ireland’s most famous soccer stadiums, Dalymount Park; it was a semifinal game of a Major Cup competition which unfortunately we lost 3-2 and as was typical of games in Ireland, I hobbled onto the plane the next morning,” O’Brien fondly recounts.
It was March of 1990 when he arrived in California and he immediately started playing competitive soccer, interestingly the club he played with out of Orange County was made up of Irish, English and Scottish players. He spent eight great years playing soccer with that club and also experienced several personal milestones during this time including marrying his wife Terri and expanding their family with the birth of two sons, Sam and Joe. Along with their children and beloved dog, Paul and Terri decided to move to Rocklin in 1998 and that is when his journey with Placer United began.
“While playing at a local indoor league in Roseville, I heard that a local club was looking for a new coach so I contacted the club, was interviewed, ran a training session and was offered the job of head coach of a U17 boys team for Placer United,” explained O’Brien. “In 2004, the Placer United Board of Directors asked if I would be interested in a board position, I said yes and then became the club’s vice manager.”
By 2006 he was offered the position of Boys Coaching Director and held that until he took on the Director of Soccer Operations in 2014. The steady growth of Placer United allowed for a shift in structure where the coaching directors now focus on helping coaches and players on the field. In addition, O’Brien’s position has him working alongside Jodi Tarr, the club administrator, where they combine efforts to oversee the day to day projects as well as focus on ways to continue to advance the club both on and off the field.
Next up for O’Brien and Placer United is their Girls Cup tournament this October 22-23 that has taken place for more than twenty years. Preparations for it are in full swing with more than 200 teams ranging from U11 to U18 will be competing on 32 fields throughout Placer Valley.
“Our girls tournament is one of the biggest soccer events in California at this time of year and for us to be responsible for bringing hundreds of families into our part of town is awesome,” commented O’Brien. “The excitement on the faces of the girls at the first games and the actual championship games – that’s pretty cool; working with the people at PVT to help put Placer County on the soccer map – that is something we are really proud of too.”
Whether he is on the soccer field, planning training sessions, preparing for the next tournament or helping players take their game to the next level, O’Brien’s passion and knowledge for the game comes shining through. Here at PVT we appreciate you so much Paul, and want to thank you for all the young lives you’ve helped mold into accomplished athletes and adults. You’re a star in our eyes!