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Introducing Phil Iafrati

 

Phil Iafrati, the legendary Oakville Soccer Club coach was so much more, according to those whose lives he touched through the beautiful game. Yes, Iafrati was incredibly successful on the pitch, winning dozens of league championships, countless tournaments, eight Ontario Cup titles and two national crowns. But Iafratiís greatest legacy may be how he not only brought out the potential in his players, he helped transform those boys into men both on and off the pitch.
 

This dynamic inspiration of a Manchester man came to Oakville in the 1970ís following in the footsteps of his sister and her husband. As a professional carpenter he found work quickly, and settled into a home in Bronte. He was determined to become a part of his community. So Phil, an accomplished Cricket player, agreed to coach hockey. He had never played the game, but that didnít stop him from making his mark.
 

It was not long after, that four soccer pitches were built in Shell Park, and Phil found his true calling as a soccer coach. At one point he coached up to 4 soccer teams simultaneously. Philís practices would go two-and-a-half or three hours, even in January, outdoors as Oakville didnít yet have any indoor pitches.
 

Tim Hyde one of his ex-players remembered fondly "he was so passionate. I think we got Christmas Day off, but come Boxing Day we'd shovel off some field somewhere and get right back into practicingĒ. Eventually, he was able to arrange for the use of the Appleby College field hockey turf for practices during the winter months.
 

In 1998, one year prior to assembling the Oakville Blue Stars, he coached the U19 menís team, the Oakville Blue Devils, winning the U19 Canadian Club Soccer Championships.
 

In 1999, Phil formed the Oakville Blue Stars, a U90-A boys team, under the Oakville Soccer Club. The Blue Stars competed at the highest levels of soccer, eventually playing in the Provincial Division of the Ontario Soccer League, then the top soccer league in Ontario. The Oakville Blue Stars achieved an impressive record including 2 National Club Championships, 3 Ontario Cup Championships (U14, U15, U21), 7 League Champion Titles, 5 League Cups and 2 Dunleavy Cups.
 

The majority of Philís Blue Stars players ó many from Oakville, some from out of town ó went on to yet higher levels. Fifteen played university soccer in the NCAA south of the border, a dozen more played at Canadian universities. Seven have represented Canada either at the youth level or on the Olympic squad. Many have been picked up by Major League Soccer teams, including Kyle Bekker, who plays midfielder with the Toronto FC and Evan James who played for the Montreal Impact.
 

Another of Iafratiís former players, Mike Vanderjagt, went on to become the most accurate field-goal kicker in National Football League history and was inducted into the Oakville Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
 

Phil Iafrati served with the Oakville Soccer Club for 40 years not just as a coach, but also as a member of the OSCís board of directors and a stint as its president. In 2001, Iafrati became a Life Member of the OSC in recognition of his service and dedication. In 2012, he was named one of the OSCís 40 People of Influence.
 

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Phil Iafrati
Soccer


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