Over the coming month we will be talking to friends and people in our SLAMXHYPE world; editors, stylists, designers, artists and musicians who have a particular affinity with football (or soccer). Having a close connection with the sport myself, over the years we have discovered more and more friends in our culture who share this connection. Some have played at a high level, others for fun, some are just massive fans of the game.
Gerhard Stochl is the Coach of New York’s famous Chinatown Soccer Club, the football club probably best known around the world for its pull of creative players.
What do you do?
Coach of the Chinatown Soccer Club.
What part does football play in your life?
Football definitely plays a significant part in my life. I play several times a week here in New York and obsessively follow the game through all the usual channels. The first thing I look at after waking up in the morning is usually the Guardian’s football site.
How often do you play football?
On average, the Chinatown Soccer Club plays about three times a week. Always early in the morning before heading off to work.
What’s you favorite team?
Growing up in Vienna, Austria, I supported Rapid Wien. I then lived in Germany for a few years when I was a teenager and enjoyed going to Borussia Dortmund games. In the English Premier League, I lean towards that team which everyone hates, Manchester United. Mainly because of Sir Alex Ferguson. And the genius of Eric Cantona, of course. Seagulls following the trawler and all that.
Who is your favorite player?
That one is easy. Zinedine Zidane.
What position do/would you play?
I envision myself as a deep-lying midfielder trying to emulate the genius of Andrea Pirlo. More often than not very much in vain.
What do you think football has taught you?
That despite coming from a skateboarding/snowboarding background, you can come to appreciate team sports quite a lot as you grew older, as long as you surround yourself with the right people.
How do you take the lessons you have learnt from football into your daily life?
Life is much easier when you have a good team around you, work together and learn from one another.
How does football influence and inspire?
Where do you start? The feuding factions in the Ivory Coast’s civil war declaring a cease fire to support their team at the 2006 World Cup? The fact that you can walk into any bar around the world (outside North America, perhaps) and discuss another loss on penalties for England in a major tournament in excruciating detail with complete strangers? It truly is the global game.
What is one thing you would change about football today if you could?
I could do without some of today’s blatant commercialization of the game. New ownership rules that provide more power to the fans (as in Bayern Munich’s example) should be adapted throughout the various national leagues. Oh, and goal-line technology.
What is the best game you have ever played in?
The best game is always the one you haven’t played yet.
What is the best game you have ever watched?
There are so many. The Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich back in 1999 is hard to beat for drama. At least if you saw it live and weren’t a Bayern supporter.
Finest memory in football?
Again, so many examples. However, seeing my dad play a reunion game with the guys he played with for the better part of 30 years for his 60th birthday would be very close to the top. I hope I’ll get to experience something like that in a few decades.
Photo: Ben Pier