In a league for Canadians, by Canadians, Michael Silberbauer is an aberration.
Pacific FC’s first head coach, a Dane, is dissimilar from his peers, all of who are Canadian.
But Pacific FC brass assert there’s room for an outsider — someone who will bring fresh ideas to the Canadian Premier League’s newest club.
“As opposed to taking a Canadian coach, with a Canadian mentality, Michael offers something different: a fresh European outlook,” said PFC President Josh Simpson, who played alongside Silberbauer at Swiss side Young Boys.
Simpson later added, “We’re going with a coach we think is right for the development of Pacific FC, and for our football.”
Silberbauer’s allure, his almost tailor-made CV, includes his work with up-and-coming professionals in Switzerland.
“I started being a coach for one reason and for one reason only,” the 37-year-old explained to CanPL.ca.
A twist of fate ultimately led to the former Denmark international discovering a passion for teaching, training and developing European footballers.
Towards the end of his four-year stay at Young Boys, Silberbauer was dropped to the club’s under-21 squad, where he discovered a new passion for the game: Helping to develop young professionals.
“That was what sparked my interest in being a coach,” Silberbauer added. “Soon after that I basically quit football and started being a coach and tried to make myself better every year that went along.”
After finishing his playing career with Swiss 2nd-division outfit FC Biel-Bienne, the midfielder joined the team’s staff as an assistant coach. Silberbauer assumed a similar role with Swiss Super League side FC Luzern this year before learning of a movement in Canada.
“A unique opportunity came along to be a part of something — finding new Canadian talent and making it better and helping these young Canadians make it,” he said.
“That was something that really spoke to me. I asked Josh for an interview and it went from there.”
What’s more, Silberbauer’s commitment to Vancouver Island was supported by the fact he turned down multiple offers to coach in his native Denmark. The CPL project, the opportunity to be a part of groundswell, was too enticing to pass on.
“This just shows the buzz the league is creating, that guys like this want to be a part of this project,” said Pacific FC CEO Rob Friend, who also referred to the club’s newest hire as one of the top young coaches in Europe.
Both Simpson and Friend believe the best path right now for PFC players and prospects is the one they experienced during their extended careers in Europe.
“It’s ultimately the mentality and outlook we want to bring to our club,” Friend added.
“What Josh and I have done, we’ve gone abroad and learned. We think it grows the game in Canada to bring in someone different, as well as balancing that with a young, local, up-and-coming coach.”
Pacific FC tabbed Vancouver Whitecaps under-15 Residency coach James Merriman as a crucial resource who will serve as Silberbauer’s assistant coach.
Merriman’s familiarity with players in the Vancouver area should act as a vital piece in helping PFC construct and inaugural roster, brimming with local, Canadian talent.
“A lot of the young Whitecaps who have gone through their program have all been coached by James,” Friend said. “They’re two very young, up-and-coming coaches who bring in a fresher outlook on the game.”
Silberbauer’s outlook isn’t solely derived from his time competing in various leagues across UEFA. His experience includes brushing shoulders with a number of Canadians.
“I played with one of the best Canadians at FC Copenhagen: Atiba Hutchinson,” Silberbauer offered. “I actually played against Canada a few years ago with Denmark.
“I’ve seen Canadian players. I’ve played against them. I know some of their characteristics. That’s something that speaks to me. Obviously, I’m not a Canadian, but I feel I have a good base to start from.”
Silberbauer arrived last week in Vancouver Island to put down roots and familiarize himself with a community he expects to rally around the CPL’s west coast club.
He comes with a preferred playing style that’s flexible depending on the makeup of PFC’s inaugural roster.
“There has been a few (European) players who have been asking about the league,” Silberbauer said.
“First, I really want to sit down with Josh and Rob and James and get the right profile ready for the type of football Pacific FC wants to play.
“I don’t want to bring (a European player) along just to bring them along. This is a Canadian league. If anyone is as good or has the talent in Canada they’re our first priority.”
An aberration when it comes to nationality, Silberbauer’s mindset is in line with every other CPL coach.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s not going to happen anymore,” he finished. “To have the opportunity to work alongside (Chairman) Dean (Shillington), Josh and Rob in building a football club from the ground is unique.
“It’s something you take very seriously. We want to get it right and move in the right direction all the time at the right tempo. We want to make sure we get it right.”
Pacific FC is now taking membership deposits for priority access to preferred seating for home games. A $50 deposit reserves a spot in line for up to eight seats. Visit PacificFootball.Club for more information.