By Mahonri Mendoza/NPSL.com
The Lubbock Matadors recently announced their new head coach, Paul Gilbert, for their inaugural NPSL season, and he is ready to take on this challenge for the people of Lubbock.
“Super excited,” said Lubbock Matadors head coach Paul Gilbert. “I’ve been in Lubbock for six years. This is something that I felt Lubbock needed–It needed an NPSL team. I can’t wait to do that here in Lubbock.”
With his previous managerial experience, Gilbert is excited about being part of what the club can bring to the city.
“We’re excited for soccer in Lubbock,” said Gilbert. “It’s come a long way, and I hope that I can be a small part of that.”
Gilbert is currently the Lubbock Christian University (LCU) men’s soccer coach. While he noted that they’re two different games, he’s excited about the tactical emphasis on getting the right lineup the first time.
“It’s two very different games,” said Gilbert. “With college soccer, you’re allowed to do tons of changes during a match. In the NPSL, once a player is off, they’re off. There’s a lot of emphasis on getting it right the first time.”
He noted that collegiate soccer and NPSL soccer are at different levels; however, he recognized that the level of players involved would increase the league’s difficulty.
“As far of the level, there are very good players in all divisions of college soccer,” said Gilbert. “In the Lone Star Conference, there are many DII players around Texas and Colorado. There’s a lot of kids who are just going to do fine. The level is higher, so you’ll get the best of DII players, DI players, and former pros.”
Fans and supporters have a lot to look forward to with their tryouts just recently announced to take place on Saturday, January 22nd. Gilbert had some pointers on what players he needs to build a winning squad and what fans should expect from the players.
“Engagement, we want our players to be engaged in the environment that we are creating,” said Gilbert. “High energy, willingness to be coached, be held accountable, and hold others accountable. We want fast, explosive players who can change the game instantly. Very aware and able to make great decisions on the ball. If you’re not the fastest, can you read the game and execute decisions?
Apart from the in-game performance, he wants the players to be available to sign autographs, take pictures, and pass the ball with a kid.
“We want our guys to develop relationships with the people of Lubbock,” said Gilbert. “We want them to establish relationships, and if they’re able to do that, they will inspire the next generation of young footballers in Lubbock and Texas.”
While the objective is clear, there’s more to winning trophies for Gilbert as he wants the people of Lubbock to be proud of what the club and fans can build together.
“We want to compete for trophies,” said Gilbert. “We want to represent Lubbock and make Lubbock proud. We want to establish a true football identity for our team.”
Gilbert’s mission and idea on the field is one that he is currently working on perfecting as players come to try out and announce signings.
“We have this game idea within our game model,” said Gilbert. “We hope we can put that out in the field every game. If we can execute that idea in the field, we will be fun to watch, and I think we are going to be very successful in winning games and taking points each game.”
The message is clear for fans and supporters as Gilbert wants the people of Lubbock and surrounding areas to make this club their own. They want this to be Lubbock-built and want people to say, “this is my club.”
Gilbert wants to establish a proper football fandom, and if fans are not familiar with the sport, research the fandom in Europe and see what they do there. He believes bringing that international fandom excitement to Lubbock will make the environment nice to experience.
“Excited for the inaugural season,” said Gilbert. “I can’t wait to put a product out on the field that’ll make Lubbock fans to be proud of their club, looking for the energy, and can’t wait to keep that going.”
The club will begin competition in the South Region’s Lone Star Conference in 2022. Fans and supporters should be proud of what the club wants to build for the city and the league.
Photo Credit: LCU Athletic Department