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Gordon Forrest Named Whitecaps U-18 Head Coach

The Vancouver Whitecaps have gone back to Scotland to fill a major vacancy, naming Dunfermline native Gordon Forrest manager of coaching development and U-18/U-23 head coach.

Forrest, 35 years old, partially succeeds former Residency boss Richard Grootscholten, who resigned earlier this year. Forrest assumes Grootscholten's previous posts of U-18 and U-23 head coach, taking over from interim U-23 coach Craig Dalrymple and interim U-18 coach Stuart Neely. Grootscholten's previous role of Residency technical director is not currently filled.

Forrest had a journeyman's playing career across Scotland that included time with East Fife, Livingston, Raith Rovers, Berwick Rangers, as well as cameos abroad with Millwall and in Iceland. Aged only 28 Forrest retired from play at the end of 2005 to concentrate full time on coaching.

His first real coaching experience of note came with the Scottish Football Association; beginning not long after his retirement, he was based in Fife and by 2007 was a youth football development officer involved in a pioneering plan to improve Scottish soccer by serious changes at the youth grass roots[1] In addition, he became a first team coach with East Fife FC in 2009 during Stevie Crawford's run as player-manager[2].

In September of last year, Forrest was poached from Scotland by then-New Zealand women's head coach and head of football development John Herdman to help Herdman as Football Development Manager for the Northern Association[3] while Herdman was on his way out to Canada; a ponderous title but one that led to Forrest becoming a recognized face in New Zealand coaching and assistant coach of the Soccer Ferns at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

It's impossible to comment on the coaching record of a man who's spent so little time in the limelight. The New Zealand women's soccer team, to which Forrest contributed, has been an excellent program even since Herdman left it. He has consistently been approached by higher authorities looking for someone to galvanize their youth programs; that is also a good sign.

Fans will chuckle at the Whitecaps bringing in another Scotsman, but the connection to Herdman, who works out of Vancouver a great deal and has become a familiar face to many in the Whitecaps office, was probably equally helpful. In spite of his recent involvement with New Zealand women's soccer, the vast bulk of Forrest's coaching experience has been at the men's level and his developmental oversight position in New Zealand spanned genders.

He will have a tough task replacing Grootscholten, who came into Vancouver with experience in a first-class club youth academy and won the respect of the bulk of the Vancouver soccer community. Forrest has been clawing his way from smaller jobs to larger ones, with the Whitecaps his largest yet; in fact, his career plan to date seems to have a lot in common with Martin Rennie. With Rennie, Forrest, and Dalrymple all in their thirties, the Whitecaps certainly don't lack for youth behind the benches as well as on the field.

In addition to his role coaching players, Forrest will be manager of coaching development. According to the Whitecaps press release this will be exactly what it sounds like: helping young Whitecaps coaches learn the ropes and advance in the coaching world. This has been a missing link in the Whitecaps Residency program for some years, and hopefully Forrest's appointment means they're taking it seriously and isn't just another title given to lengthen a business card.

Forrest holds a Scottish Football Association Advanced Children’s Licence, Scottish Football Association Youth License, and a UEFA 'A' License.

[1] — "SFA chief kicks-off new football scheme to put kids on right path." Dunfermline Press, September 27, 2007. Accessed October 18, 2012.

[2] — Stewart K. "Someone else who has been brought in is Gordon Forrest, who is an SFA Youth Development Officer." Away From the Numbers Forum, April 28, 2009. Accessed October 18, 2012.

[3] — "Forrest uproots for new football role." Fife Today, September 1, 2011. Accessed October 18, 2012.