Growing up in the small town of Victoria, Australia, in the late 1980s and early 90s, John Hutchinson understood the principles and priorities of the playground. He knew he wanted to play family game, soccer, he would have to get in line.
Victoria is not a football country.
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“To get a football game at school, I had to play 100 games (Australian Rules Football),” said Hutchinson, who was appointed in December to become the second manager of El Paso Locomotive history.
“I love AFL. When you are in Victoria you have to have an AFL team. You really choose the team because that’s what you have to do in Victoria. My team was Collingwood.
“I love my AFL, but Mum and Dad were football (soccer) continuously. That was our family. I asked Mom the other day, ‘Do you like football?’ He said, ‘If I belong to this family, I have to love football.’
Every time soccer is played
Hutchinson’s heart drove him in a different direction from most Victorians. Certainly, he loved AFL. His biggest interest, however, was the family soccer business.
His father coached Morwell community groups (population 14,000). Her sisters were playing soccer, and her mother drove them to sports.
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From an early age, Hutchinson was on the road that almost led him to a similar career in El Paso.
“When I was growing up my dad was in the U16 team, I was 12, maybe younger,” 42-year-old Hutchinson recalled. “I was there every day, in pain but they never treated me that way, I ended up playing with those players at home level, there were two who were my idols, my idols are players trained by Dad.
“Saturday was soccer from 6am to 6pm, Sundays are the same. We spent Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, every day soccer.”
So he started a career, 15 years as a pro, involving a stint with the Malta national team (on his mother’s side of the family), followed by coaches in Australia, Seattle, Japan and now El Paso.
Around the world
Along the way, Hutchinson found a very good side in a good game. In Aussie Rules Football, the Morwell native did not have to travel more than 100 miles to Melbourne to be the best in the sport. The game leads to Victoria and Melbourne.
For Hutchinson, soccer was the gate to activity and the gateway to the world.
For now, that portal has led to El Paso, but getting here was his favorite tour.
“We’re traveling the world,” said Hutchinson, who will be training at Southwest University Park for the first time in Saturday’s home game against New Mexico United. “I was in the Malta national team. I’ve seen amazing countries, playing with some of the best football players in the world. I wasn’t very good but I had to play against them.
“Football has given me a life I never knew I could live. I live in China, I live in Japan, I live in America. I have traveled to Asia in the Asian Champions League, I have traveled. To Europe and Malta. He is currently coaching.
“It’s been a wonderful life, I’m happy and I don’t take it for granted. I’m doing what I love. I never thought of doing anything else.”
Throughout those trips Hutchinson has studied the game in various places.
His professional career began at the age of 16 when he played for his hometown of Morwell Pegasus against the Gippsland Falcons of the NSL, which at the time was the top league in Australia. Falcons coach Frank Arok, a Yugoslav native who once coached the Australian national team, recognized Hutchinson, offered him a chance and signed him to a pro contract.
Getting that chance at 16 is something that has inspired Hutchinson to this day.
This game is about giving (players) a place where they can grow and have the opportunity to be the best, ”said Hutchinson. “It is about giving people a chance.
“I had a chance when I was 16 years old with an old man named Frank Arok, I will never forget that. My philosophy is to give young people a chance.”
From there he spent most of his 15-year playing career in Australia, most of it at the top level of the A League, although there was a loan stint in Chengdu, China in 2011.
Hutchinson’s remorse, he did not realize he was fit for Maltese until he was almost 30 (in international football a player qualifies for the national team if he has one citizen with that citizenship) but that was enough time for him to win. 11 Malta hats.
“A beautiful country,” he said of a Mediterranean island about half the size of El Paso.
As a coach he started with the team that completed his playing career, the Central Coast Mariners of the Australian A League, in 2015 and ’16 before Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey hired him to coach with Seattle’s USL affiliate.
Hutchinson left in 2019 to train in Australia and Western United, but was drawn to return to Seattle in 2020 by Lagerwey again to train at the Sounders center.
What they will bring to El Paso
He loved each of these stops, but it was a trip to Japan last season to become an assistant to Yokohama F. Marinos that changed his life.
He has been the assistant coach of Australian champion Ange Postecoglou, now the first Celtic coach in the Scottish Premier League, one of the world’s biggest football giants. Postecoglou also coached the Australian national team in the mid-2000s.
“It’s like a puzzle that didn’t have all the pieces, the holes are very big,” Hutchinson said of his work that led to the encounter with Postecoglou. Sometimes your path crosses with someone who changes your life or your career or your thinking process, mine was Ange Postecoglou.
“I always had a way of playing football, I always believed in catching, attacking, in high pressure. He helped put everything together for me. You can never be perfect as a football coach, you are always changing. You are always growing.
After a year with Postecoglou, Hutchison knew he was ready to be head coach and Locomotive at USL was the perfect opportunity. He brought his wife, and his 12-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter here in January to begin the next chapter of his life.
If he succeeds in bringing his vision of football here, El Paso will bring the best football brand to Southwest University Park.
“My take on it is being aggressive everywhere,” Hutchinson said. “We want to press on, play all the games to win. Winning remains at Number 1, but for me it’s football: the football we play, the football brand we bring to El Paso, the football brand we bring I want these guys to enjoy what we do every day.
“It’s fun, I talk about happiness all the time. We need to advise and teach why we want to play this kind of football. The main thing I want to do is put them on the ball and have fun. I hope there are games I need. I can sit down and enjoy my players. “
This is a style of football that has attracted a lot of interest from his first El Paso team.
“The style of play is right for me,” said one of Hutchinson’s first signings, Englishman Emmanuel Sonupé. “I have spoken to a player who plays football before I signed and he wants to play football based on attacking players, quickly and quickly.
“You made us play, you’re proud, you want to do well. That’s the best thing you can ask for.”
A large part of Hutchinson’s work will develop all the players on the list.
Whether it’s Diego Luna, 18, or on the other hand (37 years old) Richie Ryan and Yuma 36, it’s about giving them a place where they can grow and have it all. the opportunity to be the best, ”said Hutchinson. “That’s what we do.”
Hutchinson has been building up to this point from his early days and will get a chance to showcase the work on Saturday night when El Paso Locomotive play its fourth home opener game, the first under their new 42-year-old Australian coach.
New Mexico United El El Paso Locomotive
What, when, where: USL Championship soccer match, 6pm on Saturday, at Southwest University Park
Records: El Paso is 0-1-0, 0 points, 10 in the Mountain Division; New Mexico 1-0-0, 3 points, 3rd in Mountain Division
Tickets: $ 10- $ 48
TV: KFOX 14, ESPN Sports