By Dave Reardon
Questions and answers from my interview Thursday with retired MLS star Brian Ching from Haleiwa and Kamehameha, who is here for the ProXtreme Camp at Waialae Iki Park.
Q: How excited are you about working with these kids this weekend, especially since it's your home state?
A: I've been doing this camp the past 12, 13 years. It's an opportunity for me to give back. I think the Bulls have done a fantastic job elevating soccer here in Hawaii. It's a club I played for here when I was growing up. They make it easy for me to give back. Thanks to Phil and Ken and the entire Bulls organization. It's a no-brainer for me and something I enjoy. For me it's about the kids seeing someone who's made it and give them something to shoot for.
Q: The aggressive playing style worked for you. When working with kids like this, do you have to gear back at all because you're teaching them fundamentals and safety type things?
A: I think for me and the kids here it's about enjoying the game. Go out and be personable with them. Go out and make fun of them and joke around with them and relate to them on that level. Let them know I'm not this untouchable star kind of thing, I'm just like one of them. I've had similar experiences growing up that they are as they grow up. That's what for me it's about, making those connections, coming back and you get to see stars like Caprice (Dydasco, of NCAA champion UCLA). I saw her at this camp when she was 7 years old. It's amazing to see how these kids are growing up. They have a lot more skill than I did at their age. It's great to see. The Bulls help develop these kids.
Q: What will your new job entail?
A: Pretty much overseeing the women's team. Everything, from hiring a coach to selling tickets and all that. Basically the general manager. Managing director of the Dash. It's a job that the president's going to help me out with, just until I really learn the business and get my feet under me, but it's one I'm excited about. It was a thing before it all happened I was really, I don't want to say reluctant, I just didn't know how I was going to feel moving into the front office. But once he told me about the job and we started interviewing coaches I was excited about it. Started work already and it's something I'm really looking forward to."
Q: Do you have business experience?
A: I think when you're in the business long enough you see so much of it and I've been exposed to the front office side of things over the years. There's a lot of things I have to learn. Majored in accounting, got a degree in accounting. I enjoy numbers and working on those things. Having said that I have a lot to learn and I want to use the things that made me successful to make me successful int the front office."
Q: You've had one of the greatest careers in any sport of any athlete coming from Hawaii. In 2010 many of us here were disappointed you didn't make the World Cup team. As the World Cup approaches again do you think about what might have been?
A: No, it's something I've gotten over. I put it behind me. It's one of those things it was difficult at the time but there's no sense dwelling on it. It's only going to bring up bad negative things, like I said I got past it and moved on. Just like a lot of other trials and tribulations I've been through. You see it for what it is and get past it and hopefully it makes you stronger."
Q. How much concern should there be about injuries, especially head injuries in soccer?
A. I think head injuries don't really come into play until you get to probably more into college and the professional level. I think at this level there's nothing really to worry about because the contact is minimal. Being a guy who's had two facial fractures, obviously it's something I've thought about a lot over the past few years, but, you know, it's not as prevalent because it's not as physical a game as football but obviously there's you know, I've seen the dangers of it through guys around the league and what not. It's something that we're still learning about as a society.
Q. Does heading the ball cause concussions?
A. Well if heading the ball was a problem I think I'd have Alzheimer's by now, because that was a big part of my game. I've never had a problem or don't foresee myself hopefully ever having a problem in the future, just because of heading.
Q. You're very popular in Houston, but Hawaii's still home, right?
A. Hawaii is always home. This is where my mom is, my family. It's some place I come back every year. Is it where I retire when I'm done? Can't say for sure yet. I haven't planned that far ahead. We'll see what happens, but I love coming back. Thankfully mom has a place. I love surfing, still do, still a passion of mine. It's in the blood, it's one of those things I always do and always enjoy it kind of refreshes the soul. My fiancee is from Houston. a lot of ties. Houston's home now, but Hawaii's always home in the heart.