We had a chance to talk about studies in the USA and everything that comes along with them with a college soccer coach-Predrag Peca Ivanović.
He started his sports career in the club Mladost Goša, but after a few years of playing in Serbia, he decided to continue his soccer journey in America. He leaves for the University of Charleston in 2008.
After a successful soccer career, he decides to stay on the field, but as a coach rather than a player. During his 10-year career as a coach, he helped many international players come to the USA, but he also did something not many people can say they did. He became the champion of America.
In the interview, useful to everyone thinking of continuing their education and athletic career, Peca will talk in detail about training conditions in the USA, equipment they use to analyse games, what coaches look for when recruiting athletes and many more.
1. Hello, Peca! Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them your “American story”
Hello, everyone! I came to the USA in 2008. I played for the University of Charleston in Division 2 for the first two years. Then, I went to Jacksonville University, Florida, where I played for two more years. After finishing college, I started working as a coach at the University of Charleston, but soon after, I went to Marshall University competing in Division 1, with my boss. We got the title of the champions of America there. After the year ended, I got a job here, at Barry University, so it's my first season working here!
2. How did your journey here look like?
I started my soccer career in Smederevska Palanka playing for a club called Mladost Goša. I played soccer in Serbia until 2007. when I decided to go to the USA. Looking back, that was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I came to an average, lowly-ranked Division 2 team. In two years, we created a quality team with great energy and climbed to the top 10 Division 2 teams in America. This brought us some prizes which made it possible for me to transfer to a team at Jacksonville University, Florida, competing in Division 1, the best college league here. Playing there for the last two years of my college career was a fun and interesting experience. After my soccer career ended in 2012. I started working as a coach and have been coaching for the past decade.
I consider working and training conditions here phenomenal, sometimes even better than for the Super League in Serbia. Universities here have huge budgets and a lot of resources. Players here are treated as professionals with an added opportunity to study and get a diploma.Petsa Ivanovic, Head Men's Soccer Coach at Barry University
3. What are some things coaches look for when recruiting new players?
There are a lot of details coaches look for when recruiting new players. They can also vary depending on the university.
- However, some of them stand out as the most important. If recruiters cannot come to watch you play in person, it's crucial to have an amazing highlights video. Top universities have big scouting budgets, so even if they liked your video, they sometimes send someone to see you play live.
- 2. Your high school GPA is important as it brings in more academic scholarships and money for coaches to spread out across students. There is a limit to how many sports scholarships can be given out so having a high GPA and English exam results can greatly improve your chances of receiving a scholarship.
A quality highlights video can leave a good impression on recruiters which can lead to them flying out to see you play live or even giving you a direct pass to a university. I would say having a good highlights video and a high GPA are two of the most important things. Certainly, you should put all other accomplishments and experiences you have on your CV to paint as great of a picture of yourself as a person and a soccer player as you can.
I don't think any other country is organized better than the USA in this sense. In regards to your personal and athletic development, there is no better environment to be in than here, especially during the U23 age.Petsa Ivanovic, Head Men's Soccer Coach at Barry University
4. You are currently working at Barry University, Miami, a very attractive location. Please, tell us something about Barry
Barry University is one of the smaller ones in Division 2. They were champions of America in 2018 and have immaculate training conditions.
The fields we play and practice at are used by Barcelona, Manchester United, England, Brazil and many other teams for their high-quality grass and available facilities. We have the support of the University and the Inter Miami MLS team is situated around 20 minutes from here.
We are in good partnership with them. We are located 15 minutes both from the ocean and the centre of Miami, so the location is very attractive for international athletes. I got my team in April, thus I am quite new here. I have been here for just 9 months but I am more than satisfied with it. My impression of the environment, my colleagues, and the support I get from the staff is unbelievable. I would recommend thinking about this career to everyone.
I believe many young athletes would love to make progress in such an environment.
5. What advice do you have for young athletes considering the sports scholarships program?
My advice to young ambitious athletes is that if you decide to do this, it will be the best decision in your life. When it comes to resources, universities here have everything you need- amazing facilities, great fields, gyms, physiotherapy, etc.
High-quality equipment used here such as GPS devices and top game analysis devices (Spideo, wyscout, Instat) is why there is no better environment for your personal and athletic growth than right here, especially in the U23 age. No country is as organised as the USA in this context.
- Some people have misconceptions about it because they think it is a college league just like any other, but athletes from all over the world are brought here to play. Some of them played in Academies, Premier League, Spain, and Italy, but also in Africa, South America and Asia… There are players of really high levels coming to play here.
The best example is the famous Jack Harrison from Leeds. He spent a few years here at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, one the best in Division 1. He played a couple of seasons there and then returned to England to continue his career. Many players from MLS and the rest of the world started their careers playing for college leagues here. For example, Jordan Morris, an American representative who played at Stanford University for a year and then moved to MLS. It can open a lot of doors for you in the future and help you mature and progress as a player in an amazing environment.
-Great! Thank you for explaining your first-hand experience in such detail!
And lastly, why do you think about our partnership?
I met Filip from Head Coach agency a few years ago and I have a high opinion of him and his team. I think they have a great platform you can use to ensure a better, more professional and organized future for yourself. We are working very hard on bringing athletes from Serbia and the rest of Europe here and creating a clear path for skilled soccer players who can and want to come to the USA to play.