JAFCYA Welcomes Steve Hirayama



January 26, 2018 - The Jacksonville Armada FC Youth Academy announced today that it has appointed Steve Hirayama as the Club's new Girl’s Program Director.   

Hirayama has been coaching youth soccer for nearly 30 years, most recently serving as the Academy Director for Challenge Soccer Club, which is one of the largest and most successful all girl’s club in the nation located in Houston. Hirayama oversaw the club’s development in the U8 through U12 age groups. His position included creating and implementing curriculum, scheduling, and coaching education. Prior to Challenge Soccer Club Steve served multiple roles at Austin Texans which included, Director of Coaching and Academy Director. Hirayama has also served roles at Germantown Soccer Club in Tennessee as well as Assistant Women’s coach at the University of West Florida. Hirayama currently holds his USSF B License and his NSCAA Advanced National Diploma. A native of Memphis, Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee where he played for the Vols. 

Hirayama is excited about the opportunity to come into a well-established club and girls program. "It's been an absolute privilege to be involved in coaching and directing youth soccer for the past 30 years. Being in the position to inspire young athletes is extremely rewarding, but what I cherish most are the relationships with the players and families well beyond their youth soccer years. I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to be within the Armada Family and to help enhance the ongoing commitment to soccer excellence. I look forward to our future and being a part of the growth of Armada FC Youth Academy".  

Patrick Cannon, current Interim Executive Director, states “I have known Steve for almost twenty years now. To say I am excited for Steve to start to put his thoughts and ideas into the girl’s program is an understatement. For me the most important thing is Steve puts development first. The energy and commitment he puts into his work, and his philosophical ideas toward the game makes this a perfect fit.” Steve will start immediately working with all ages of the program and will be working directly with the current girl’s directors and coaching staff on creating and implementing a girl’s curriculum.

Armada Youth Academy Board President Chris Dunn states, “As we begin the spring season it has been the intent of the club’s leadership to bring an emphasis and focus on taking our girls program to the next level. In due time our members will get to know Steve and realize what an addition to the leadership team he is and see his impact on continuing to build on the proud history of our girls program. Welcome to the fleet Steve!”   


Q&A with Girl's Program Director Steve Hirayama:


What's your background in coaching?              

I have been coaching soccer for 32 years in 6 different cities and clubs with both boys and girls from the U5 age group through college. I have been fortunate to experience working in small, medium and large clubs for they offer different challenges in which I have learned so much. Within my career, I have experienced working in all facets of a club from being the DOC, age group director, recreation director, academy, etc, so I feel I am well versed in knowing the ins and outs of how a well run club works.

How do you like working for Armada Youth Academy so far?

I like it! It is great to be among a staff and board with the same mindset when it comes to the development of players and teams. The club overall has everything to become an elite club in the country, but of course not without a some extra work. 

What is your biggest achievement in coaching?

This is an interesting question because in my younger years as a coach I would be spouting off big championship victories or personal coaching awards, but as I have gotten older, I see a different picture when it comes to coaching youth soccer. Don't get me wrong, I am still ultra competitive and love winning, but I know the victories are all short lived. My view of coaching changed about 9 or so years ago when I started a Facebook page (I started very late with FB). Instantly, I had loads of friend requests many of which were former players, some going back more than 25 years ago. Once I connected with these players, they would contact me with their stories of success and experiences with soccer, life and and how they are now teaching their kids the same life lessons that I taught them through the game. Hearing this from former, now adult, players was completely new and so much more rewarding than any accolade or trophy because it deals with what is most important, their lives. So I have to say my biggest achievement in coaching is developing great people with a passion for soccer. 

What's the biggest difference from club soccer in Florida compared to Texas?

Well the saying "everything is bigger in Texas" seems to hold true for this question. The major clubs in the Houston area are all very big, established clubs that have been around for many years, so needless to say the player pool is bigger. It is not uncommon for the major clubs to have 10 or more teams in a single age group (per gender). The Houston league itself can have as many as 10 or more divisions in an age group per gender and with promotion with the league leaders and relegation with the bottom two or three teams makes it highly competitive.   

Advice for young female aspiring soccer players and parents?

My advice is to enjoy playing soccer and not to get caught up with what team you are on or what level you are playing. To develop a modern high level soccer player can take 9+ years of consistent practice, training and playing, so the process has to be considered more like a marathon and not a sprint. I feel coaches help develop players by showing them how to get better or be the best, but it really is up to each individual. Ultimately, "what you put into it, is what you get out of it". If you only touch the soccer ball or play on your teams practice days, it isn't enough and that's ok, but you can't expect greatness for minimal effort.

Fun Fact about Steve Hirayama?

I was an illustration/graphic design major so I am quite artistic, but I also love food and cooking, so if I wasn't coaching I could see myself going to culinary school and becoming a chef.