Cesar Ceppi, the new Penticton Pinnacles coach, knows the challenge that faces him.
As the Pinnacles get set to open the Pacific Coast Soccer League season, his focus is on teaching his players how they should play the game.
“I understand it will be very difficult. It’s a different culture with the football,” said Ceppi, during a training session. “I’m from Brazil. Canadians have improved a lot. This club is really good. Right now I talk to my players. We need time to work. It’s not easy to understand the different style.
“It’s like building a house right? If you make quickly, it will be really terrible,” said Ceppi. “What I see about these guys is a good team, but we are youth. I understand the league is probably the medium age is 27. My team is 20, 21. I had the same challenge in my last club in Wenatchee. I’m good to work with youth players. I understand youth players.”
Ceppi, 26, wants to teach his players what it’s like to play a higher level. Coming from Brazil, he played at the professional level with Paulista FC a second national division squad as well as first division team Santo Andre. He was also a member of Brazil’s national under-15 squad and played with Neymar, who plays for Barcelona FC in the Spanish League and David Luiz, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France. Ceppi wants to make a difference with his team.
“The most important thing is not who won the game, it’s control the game,” said Ceppi. “The game needs to be in your hands. You cannot run 90 minutes. You are not marathon athletes. You are soccer player. Teach the players to play with smarts.”
What Ceppi knows about his group is they are strong at the keeper position as well as midfield and attack.
One of the midfielders is returning player Orlando Ricketts, who likes the development he has seen in the group. Ricketts said the coaches came in and put together a bunch of guys that are very dedicated to the season. He described Ceppi as a “lovely coach” who teaches the fundamentals. “He’s bringing his style to Penticton,” said Ricketts. “A lot of us are learning new stuff. He takes the time to really build our individual skills. I think we’re going to do a lot better than last year.”
After winning three matches last season, Ricketts is confident they will top that.
Also feeling positive about the news season is Wyatt Seddon-Johnstone.
“It’s a young team this year. I think we’re pretty enthusiastic,” he said.
While there is a language barrier with Ceppi, Seddon-Johnstone feels good about the new coach and the changes he is making.
“It’s kind of neat to have a different style. He uses the guys’ skills differently,” said Seddon-Johnstone. “I think it’s got everybody pretty excited about the year.”
The Pinnacles will open the season leading into the May long weekend on May 21 at 7 p.m. at Kings Park.