THE MONI FAMILY: MAKING A NAME FOR GRAND RAPIDS FC AND THE NPSL

It’s a special thing when a father and son can share in something they both love.  That certainly is the case with George and Kosti Moni of Grand Rapids FC.

Kosti has been a star at every stop in his career, a fan favorite at Grand Rapids FC and a rising star at UC Santa Barbara.  George is his proud father and also happens to be the head coach of GRFC.  He is understandably excited to be working with his son on the pitch.

“I would say that like anyone in my position it is a great pleasure to coach my son.  It gives me an incredible satisfaction to watch him play for me yet it makes us both work extremely hard to raise the expectations and lead by example. With time our relationship has become more sophisticated as we constantly discuss soccer in general and ways he can improve and impact the game. He also helps me to understand better socially and psychologically the generation of players I am coaching.”

Kosti agrees that this is a unique situation, one that he has excelled in.

“It’s a blessing to have someone so educated and gifted in his craft that I can speak to realistically about the sport who also happens to know everything about my game. It gives me an advantage when listening to his completely straight forward thoughts on the way I’m doing things. He’s a fantastic mentor and we have a great relationship on and off the field.”

The father and son pairing has been part of one of the NPSL’s biggest success stories.  Grand Rapids FC seemed to have gotten everything right in their first season in the league, having success on and off the field.  Grand Rapids FC has a passionate supporters’ group, one that includes the 2016 Global Scarves Supporter of the Year.  The supporters are just one part of an awesome gameday experience, one that includes great soccer and massive crowds.

The great soccer included an incredible season, one that concluded with a conference title and a strong run in the playoffs.  Kosti was proud of what they accomplished in 2016 and rightfully so.

“The GRFC team was the best team in the NPSL last season.  Period.  In quality of play, whoever watched our games would agree as well.  For the future I’m confident this club will do well.  Having started so well the club will continue to do well into 2017 and beyond.”

Their largest crowd of 2016 for GRFC was 6,854, one of the highest attendance figures in league history.  It is easy to see that this is a great place for players to take full advantage of the NPSL experience and Kosti is happy to be involved.

“I think anybody that has shown up to a GRFC game knows how great the fan base is.  Hearing a song with your name in it, or, listening to the fans yell after a goal is a great feeling. Especially knowing these fans are all peers of my community. I won’t forget all the faces I’ve seen in the crowds.”

The club recently played its first international match facing off against Aurora United FC in a game dubbed “Futbol at the Ballpark” because it was played at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the minor league baseball team West Michigan Whitecaps.

While Grand Rapids wrapped up another first, Kosti has been making strides on the West Coast with UCSB, one of the top college programs in the nation.

Kosti credits the NPSL with helping him adjust, develop, and train for the next level.

“I think as a player you develop greatly from being in new environments, new fields, new locker rooms. These experiences give you an extended opportunity to prove yourself again and again, something young college players need to do to step on to the next level. I think regarding that, it’s helped me personally.”

Kosti has also made a name for himself in California, playing in 21 matches for the Gauchos.  It’s a work in progress, but this Grand Rapids native is always up for the challenge.

“My experience here at UCSB has given me the opportunity to get to mesh with new players. Playing at any new level there comes bumps in the road and for me playing limited minutes has given me the chance to start from the ground up in terms of the fact that I need to earn a place in this team. Now, in my second year here I feel I’m finally doing that, after lots of training. The future looks promising and hopefully one day God will bless me with an opportunity to make my dreams a reality at the pro level. Until then… hard work!”

One thing is for certain, if Kosti Moni fulfills that dream of turning pro, he’ll have thousands of fans cheering for him back home in Grand Rapids.  And you can expect his father George to among the loudest and proudest.

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