One of Simon Fraser University's new assistant coaches is just one step beyond the playing field.
Former Douglas College keeper Nour Fathy is getting what he believes is a chance of a lifetime after accepting a coaching position with the undefeated defending two-time champion NCAA Division II Great Northwest conference men's soccer team.
"Honestly, I'm very happy and grateful this opportunity came up, and I'm going to work hard to make the most of it," said the Moscrop Secondary grad, who last year finished near the top of the PacWest conference goalkeeping leaders with three shutouts and a sparkling 0.92 goals against average with the Douglas College soccer team.
Fathy was named an assistant coach with varsity Clan along with James Merriman from Nanaimo on June 4.
"(Coaching) is just a passion of mine," said Fathy, an Egyptian-born footballer who came to Canada in 1996. "I've been coaching since I've been 16. It's just something I've loved to do, and I just want to give back for everything I've received from the game."
Starting Aug. 1, Fathy will get that chance and a first-hand experience in top-level coaching amongst many players his peer.
At just 22 years of age, Fathy might well be of similar age to many of the players he will have the responsibility to instruct.
But like most of the challenges he has faced, it is one Fathy embraces.
"I've always prided myself as a leader on the field, and, as I see it, I want to be a leader with my players," he said.
That challenge is not new for Fathy who began his coaching career with teams that were often only a few years his junior.
He also has professional experience, having coached with the Vancouver Whitecaps W-League team in 2010.
When he was 16, Fathy was playing soccer with Mountain FC in the Super-Y League and one day was asked by a couple of his coaches if he wanted to help out.
"From there, it just grew more and more and more, and now I'm just trying to take the opportunities and grow with them," Fathy said. "It's not easy. There are times it's challenging, but like life, we go through challenging times all the time."
While still a teenager, Fathy helped lead an under-14 Mountain team to the North American semifinals, and later took a u-15 and u-16 team to the continental Super-Y finals.
He also coached a u-13 Burnaby Selects team to a Metro regular season championship, while juggling sideline duties with the u-16 and u-18 Mountain teams in the B.C. Soccer premier league.
Perhaps not surprisingly, conflicts began to creep into his own on-field playing time.
Fathy said the leadership he learned while playing the beautiful game translated into helping him make that transition to the sidelines.
"I've been very blessed with being surrounded by the right people," Fathy said. "You just have to take those opportunities and grow with them."
Fathy will begin that growth helping head coach Alan Koch build on an already very successful program.
"As long as I show (the players) respect and care for the program, I'm sure it's going to be mutual," Fathy said. "I'm not worried. Obviously coach Koch believes in me to bring me on. The big thing is to build on a successful season."
At SFU, Fathy will continue to pursue his criminology studies while on Burnaby Mountain.
And like his school days and even his later years in college, coaching will continue to be a big part of it.
"On Mondays I'll go to school in the morning and double sessions (of practice) in the afternoon. The same goes for Tuesday, with Wednesday my rest day," said Fathy of his prospective routine. "Honestly, I wouldn't change it for the world. It keeps me busy and around the right people."