Soccer helps family form tight bond
Many parents relish the opportunity to coach one of their kids, but this past season has been even better for Rob Keam.
After all, how many parents get the chance to coach two of their children on the same team, especially at the highest amateur level.
That is exactly what Keam got to do this past season as head coach of the Langley United Premier men’s soccer team, which featured both of his boys: 25-year-old Tyson, a midfielder, and 22-year-old Colton, a goalkeeper.
Rob, with an extensive soccer background, has been involved in their coaching throughout since both his sons began at the youth level with Langley United.
“I always wanted to be involved (in coaching them),” Rob explained.
“I always had the mindset that I wanted to help and give back in some way.
“My philosophy was always if there is someone better, I would be more than willing to step aside.”
And like any parent/coach relationship, there were positives and negatives.
“We had the good days and the bad days, but overall, it was always a positive experience,” Rob said.
“We always talked pretty constructively about everything and didn’t have too many arguments.”
“It was great. You always could have a quick recap of the game, where you did well, where you can improve on, always having someone to talk about the game too,” Colton said.
“That was probably the best part of having him as a coach.”
That doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and roses.
“It was good overall (but) I did feel for them because it is probably tough to have your parent as a coach,” Rob said.
That is a sentiment his sons share.
“I just found myself always having to prove myself, proving that I deserved to be playing on this team,” admitted Colton.
However, the goalkeeper said it was more about proving to his teammates — and not his dad — that he belonged on the team on his own merits as a player and had earned his minutes.
And given his competitive fire, Colton said he had no problem proving himself.
“You always want to be better than the next person,” he said.
“I think it was more challenging for him to treat me as just another player on the team,” Tyson said.
“Often times I think he was harder on (us) than other players. But it was beneficial to us in the long run.”
“I probably was a little tougher on them than the other kids,” Rob agreed. “I just wanted to make sure it worked out for everybody, that was super important to me.”
Regardless, he has enjoyed coaching his boys since they took up the sport.
“It was a lot of hard work — don’t get me wrong — but it has also been really special,” he said.
“And I have loved coaching. It has been a great experience.”
Coaching them at this age — as young men — is also a lot easier than when they were young.
“The coaching (now) is minimal, it is more organizational than anything,” Rob said.
“I think it was more difficult developing them as young players.”
But they did develop in the sport, each playing at the university level. Tyson went to UBC while Colton was at UFV.
And for their development, Rob said Langley United — it was the Langley United Youth Soccer Association when they were growing up — has been a major part of their success.
“We are very thankful for the opportunities the club has given us,” he said.
“Right from day one, the youth club was always there for us and really contributed a good environment for the boys growing up.”
He is especially pleased that Langley United offers a chance for many of the players who after years together had split up and gone their separate routes for university, get another chance to come back and play together in their home community.
“I have always believed we can build a program where the local kids can stay here rather than go somewhere else,” Rob said.
And playing together for the first time has been special for the brothers as well.
“It has been an experience you don’t always get with the age difference,” said Colton.
“And it has been a lot of fun.”
“It has been pretty cool having all three of us finally together,” Tyson added.
It has also made things easier for their mom, Claudia, as no longer does she have to choose which son’s game she will watch.
Tyson did admit she didn’t watch many games this past season, likely from being ‘soccer-ed’ out, he laughed.