Pa-Modou Kah has been named coach of Pacific FC ahead of the 2020 Canadian Premier League season, and for a healthy core of the club’s squad, the chance to work with the former Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps defender marks a reunion of sorts.
For Terran Campbell and Kadin Chung, Kah served as one of their early-career role models and mentors, playing under him when he was their coach at Whitecaps FC 2.
The two Pacific stars, as well as others such as Matthew Baldisimo and Marcel de Jong, have had plenty of face-to-face time with their new coach during their time in mainland B.C., and will look to that familiarity as a strong base of chemistry ahead of the 2020 CPL campaign.
“I actually first met him when he was still a player at the Whitecaps,” Chung told CanPL.ca when asked about his new coach. “I went on a few pre-season trips with the first team and he was very influential then, sort of acting like a player-coach at the time. He helped me quite a bit as a player. I got really close to him when I was playing there.
“He’s one of those coaches that doesn’t take a lot of stuff from other people; he’s got his own opinions on things, and he’s very influential. He never let me have it easy, either. When he saw things I needed to improve on, he would let me know right away. He’s a very direct coach in that way, and he helped me a lot. He’s been a huge part of my development as a player.”
Campbell, Pacific’s top scorer from 2019, is equally excited to reunite with Kah.
“Personally, I think he’s a great man, first off,” Campbell told CanPL.ca. “He’s really friendly and a funny guy, too.
“He helped me out with a lot of personal things on the field, gave me little tactical ideas, so from that perspective, he’s a really good coach. We should expect a lot of pride in the way he coaches, too. He’s about expressing yourself and playing your game, pretty much. He’ll give you belief and if he sees qualities in a player, he’ll tell you not to be afraid to go off and show them, express yourself, enjoy, and have fun on the field.
“It’ll be good for chemistry. A lot of us have had experience with him so it’s good that we’ll have chemistry going into the season. From that perspective, I think things will be good. He’s a good coach and an even better human being.”
Chung and Campbell both agreed that the move to bring Kah over to Pacific would see the team benefit straight away. Kah, who last served as an assistant coach with MLS outfit FC Cincinnati, joins a young-skewing Pacific team eager to learn from his experience. And, as Chung explained, Kah comes into Pacific with a strong base, having watched the 2019 CPL season closely, too.
“He was actually the one who really got me to work on the physical aspects of my game,” Chung recalled when asked of some of the lessons he’s already learned from Kah.
“I was a smaller player back then and he gave me a lot of advice on how to handle bigger strikers that came out wide or taller, stronger wingers. He gave me a lot of advice on how to deal with them, because obviously he has a lot of experience with that. That was probably the most important thing that he’s helped me out with, dealing with the physicality of the game.”
Campbell added: “The main goal is to learn. Everyone wants to be a winner in the end of the day, and that’s what we all want to strive for, too. We all have our eyes on big goals for the upcoming season. We obviously want to reach our personal goals, but I think as a team, we all want to grow, too.”
Don’t let familiarity fool you, though. Chung maintained that Kah wouldn’t be letting him or his teammates off easy, just because they go back a few years.
“Sure, it helps with chemistry and knowledge of the players, but with him, it’s even better, because usually if it’s a familiar coach, you can get comfortable in a scenario or a situation, but Pa is the type that always keeps you humble and on your toes,” Chung explained.
“He doesn’t let you slack off or get away with things just because you know him. That’s what I’m most excited about; I know I’m not going to be completely comfortable, which is a good thing. He’ll challenge us all.”