Coach of the Month: Peja Ilic

Each month we feature one ASA coach to learn more about his or her background and personal story and this month we’re featuring Coach Peja.

What programs do you coach at ASA and how long have you been coaching with our club?

I have been coaching at ASA for four years. I’m currently coaching the U9 Red and U10 Red Girls Academy teams. During the winter I coach in the Futsal ID program. In the summer I coach summer camps. Additionally I am the Adult Programs Manager and oversee our Access4All After School League. I enjoy working for our club and being involved throughout the whole year.

Coach Peja poses with his U9 girls team after a tournament.

When did you begin coaching? What got you interested?

I started coaching in 2013 and shortly after that I met Grigor Boychev who helped me recognize the values of ASA and helped me start developing myself as a soccer coach. So many things got me interested in this job. Coaching soccer is a lot more than just coaching soccer.

As a coach you get to meet different players and different characters, you have to adapt yourself to different people and work on player’s confidence—simply you are become an inseparable part of his or her life. Coaches are always learning more about soccer and learning new ways of teaching the game. We have the opportunity, every time we speak to players, to help make a positive change in their game or life. It’s easy to fall in love with this job when you see young players learning, from you, the game that you adore and growing as players and people!

What is one of your favorite things about coaching for ASA?

One of the things I love about ASA is the trust that I have for the people that lead the organization. I have witnessed the unconditional support ASA provides to the coaching staff, players, parents and the Alexandria community. Everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the highest level. I also feel that people care about me as a person and my professional growth! Just happy to be part of it!

Coach Peja at coaching at an ASA summer camp!

Where did you grow up and what’s your favorite soccer or sports memory from your childhood?

I was born in Eastern Europe, Serbia. Svrljig is the town where I was raised and my parents are still living there.

I attended high school in Nis, during this time I played soccer for a professional club, Sindjelic. One of my favorite memories from then was when we qualified to play in division one, it was a great success for the club and me as a player. I will also carry in my heart the fact that my brother Nenad rarely missed watching any of my games. He provided unconditional support throughout my career from when I started until now. Definitely amemory I will never forget!

Coach Peja with his youth team, bottom row, second from the left.

When you’re not coaching what do you like to do in your free time?

My life revolves around sports and if I’m not playing/coaching soccer you might find me on the tennis court or basketball court. I also enjoy a good coffee with a friend.

Who’s your soccer hero and why?!

I have always admired Dejan Stankovic. He left a huge mark playing in Europe, he was known for being a fighter on the field with great awareness, and a player that would never give up. At an early age, he was passed over at tryouts for one of the small local teams. That just gave him the motivation to exceed even when it seemed difficult. Later he left his print in Italy where he played for Inter Milan. I also love watching Nemanja Matic. His composure on the ball and professionalism off the field always impress me.

And finally….give us one fun fact about yourself.

During my free time, I love playing guitar and singing, but so far I am the only person that likes to hear me doing these things.

Thank you Peja! We’re so happy you’re an ASA coach and your enthusiasm rubs off on everyone. Good luck in your upcoming seasons this Fall.

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