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Turning Oakville Boys into Men: Phil Iafrati

 Phil Iafrati Oakville Soccer Club
Phil Iafrati Oakville Soccer Club

On the 14th of September the world of Oakville Soccer took a sad turn. Phil Iafrati, a legendary coach, a founder as well as fixture of the club passed away in his 66th year in Brampton.

This dynamic inspiration of a Manchester man came to Oakville in the 1970's 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, and accomplished Cricket player, agreed to coach hockey. He had never played the game.

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, which explains why he was a bachelor for the greater part of his life.  Thankfully, for the last 8 years of his life he did enjoy the love of Denise and her two boys, Justin and Sean.

Passionate Phil with his players Passionate Phil with his team

Passionate Phil with his team

Phil didn't discriminate - boys, girls, from little ones to young men and women. It made no difference. In 1998 he coached the U19 Men's Team (Blue Devils) to become National Champions. The following year, he agreed to coach the Boys' U9 team, which struck a few of the parents as odd. But to Phil, this was simply an excellent opportunity. He named them the Blue Stars. Blue being a Manchester color.

For many of the boys on the Blue Stars, they would never know another coach. Phil was their coach from U9 right through to U21 - 12 years. It wasn't easy being a member of the team. 3 to 4 hour practices regardless of the weather or time of year was the norm. Phil drove the boys to several international, national and ontario championships, where they won more often than lost.

“ He was a fixture on the Oakville sports scene, especially here at the Oakville Soccer Club”. “You just don’t get a better guy than him, not simply as a soccer person but as a member of the community and a real solid positive role model”. - Executive Officer, Dave Harris

8 of those boys rose to great heights in Canadian soccer, representing Canada on the Olympic as well as National Teams. Two of them became professional soccer players. Kyle Bekker plays for the Toronto Football Club as a Midfielder, and Evan James played for Montreal Impact. In fact a great number of the boys from the Blue Stars received scholarships to both Canadian and US universities and colleges.

September 14th was a sad day for the Oakville Soccer Club, but they celebrated and appreciated Phil's contribution to their community at his funeral this past week. A great man, who will be greatly missed by the entire Oakville community.