Junior Lone Star FC Head Coach Bobby Ali has announced that he will step down as head coach of the club’s senior men’s team.
Coach AB, as he is affectionately called, told the club’s Board of Directors that he will be stepping aside for the upcoming 2017 NPSL season due to a “number of reasons”, most notably, he feels he needs to concentrate more on the junior team (U23s) and develop more great players for the club for the next few years, something he has done since the club founding in 2001. Coach AB has been coaching at the club since 2001.
“Our goal was to make Junior Lone Star FC the best African team in our African community. After we accomplished that, our next goal was to establish JLSFC as a top-level amateur team in the United States and we are now recognized not only in the African community, but all over the world. We have achieved everything we set out to do and more is still coming.”
Junior Lone Star FC’s rise as Philadelphia’s premier minor league soccer club at the national stage has taken time and work by a number of people and Coach AB was quick to point out he hasn’t done it alone when he was interviewed on the Educational Discussion Forum on Facebook Live.
“The players I have worked with over the years have been phenomenal. We have won more than we lost due to their commitment and discipline. I was fortunate to have worked together with Coach George Beyan (Coach Junior) since 2001. I’ve had some excellent and outstanding young coaches like Kara Smith (Coach Kara), Neewilli Saie (Coach Will), and Thomas George (Coach T). These guys have been very hard-working and our success have been all through them. I leave the First Team in great hands and it’s time for me to take a little rest.”
In the past six seasons, Coach AB has led the First Team to a record of 22 wins, 18 losses, and 7 draws in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) where they have finished third in the Keystone Conference for two consecutive seasons. In all competitions, Coach AB can boast of an impressive overall record of 49 wins, 27 losses, and 11 draws in all competitive league and cup matches from 2011 to 2016, a winning percentage of 56%. During that period, he led the First Team to its first ever dual titles in the East PA State Amateur Cup and Open Cup in 2016.
In addition to those 87 competitive matches over a six-year period, Coach Bobby Ali has travelled an estimated 20,000 miles on van for various African tournaments in the United States where has won countless amount of trophies for the First Team.
“I have driven to States like Minnesota, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in a cramped 15-passenger van for these tournaments,” Coach AB laughed. “That’s a lot of distance. It’s been worthwhile, but it’s time I take a break, look after my health, and I’m really excited about working more with the U23s for the 2017 season.”
The club is already looking to announce a replacement soon as preseason is about to begin for the First Team.
While Coach AB will leave a huge gap in the club’s First Team, his leadership and experience will still be needed, as admitted by Junior Lone Star FC Executive Director Paul Konneh.
“Coach AB has been phenomenal for this club and the First Team,” Paul said. “It’s been great having him on the First Team for the past six seasons. He’s been the driving force of this club and the First Team. I have seen how much he loves this club and what he has done for this club. We are sad to see him leave the First Team but also excited that he will stay on as Head Coach of our U23s.
He will continue to oversee the First Team as Technical Director and he will be around to help out the young coaches within the club and everyone, especially the young players he will be bringing into the club, will benefit from his experience.”
Coach AB will continue to coach the First Team only during the USASA Regional Open Cup & Regional Amateur Cup and possibly USASA Nationals while the Board of Directors will announce the appointment of the NPSL head coach within the next few days as the First Team prepares to begin preseason.
The First Team has a preseason friendly match already scheduled against the United Soccer League’s Bethlehem Steel on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at the YSC Soccer Stadium in Wayne, PA. This season, the First Team will compete in the Philadelphia Premier Soccer League (PPSL) and the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) as well as the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (USOC), the Werner Fricker US Open Cup, and the USASA Amateur Cup.