He played at UC, won two championships and is today DT in the United States: “The quality of education for my daughter is priceless”

Universidad Católica and Huachipato fans surely have fond memories of Claudio Muñoz. El ex zaguero obtuvo un título nacional con los cruzados en 2005 y luego repitió el logro con el elenco acerero en el Torneo Clausura 2012. , in the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, and there he retired from football. He did not return to Chile, he settled in the state of Oklahoma, from where he discusses with AS to tell what has become of his new life.

“I’m in Tulsa, I work at a big football academy called West Side Alliance. I am as a coach and at the same time as one of the directors, in charge of the international zone. I have good relations with Chile and some friends in Spain and Mexico. I take a few teams on international tours, the last one was in Spain. These are very entertaining tours that we always organize with the teams and now we are far from adding other teams. I’m in charge of those things and also taking the players to Levante for testing. I was able to create this link between the academy and certain teams in Spain. The idea is that los buenos jugadores que tenemos acá podamos llevarlos a España y que sean vistos por los teams de La Liga”, cuenta el también ex central de Universidad de Concepción, Osorno, Antofagasta, La Calera, San Marcos de Arica y Atlético Maracaibo from Venezuela.

– Did you study to practice as a trainer in the United States?

– I did part of it in Chile, while I was in Huachipato, but it was only two years. When I came here to the United States, I dedicated myself to taking the course they have here. Now I have just finished my UEFA B license and I am about to start the next step. Here the rule is that if you have the B license, you must wait a year to apply for the A. The idea is that you have a year of practice and therefore advance.

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– How is your coaching work going?

– I am in charge of three youth teams. In addition, I also lead a group of girls, which was a very pleasant experience. The girls here love football, they are very competitive, they take it seriously. Physically, they are very developed and they also benefit from it. Families are also very attached to them.

– Are you interested in projecting yourself there as a TD in a more competitive environment?

– Yes, and I just had a meeting with the owners of the club about it. They asked me the same thing, because I have very good friendships with professional footballers here in the city. They asked me if my intentions in the future were to turn professional, I told them yes, but without neglecting what the academy is.

– In the same city of Tulsa or in another place?

– Look, here in the city we have what would be the USL league, which is the second division in the United States, and the team is FC Tulsa. At some point, I would like to become a professional, to manage them, but also – I repeat – not to leave the academy where I work. I see it as a short or medium term objective, in one or two years to work on professionalism.

– How come there is no training football in the clubs, the academies are in charge of training children and young people to become professional footballers?

– For the most part, yes. Academies have an important value in training. Our academy, I believe, is one of the largest in the United States. Today we have 3,000 players, 120 coaches. Our role is important, especially in this city, since the local club (FC Tulsa) does not have training series to prepare its players. We are in charge of doing a bit of the course, of developing the players. But contrary to what happens in Chile, here families pay.

“Being in an academy, you have to work a lot with the parents.”

Claudio Munoz

– You went to play in the United States and you ended up coaching there…

– I ended up in (San Marcos de) Arica and when I moved from Antofagasta I was already thinking of going to the United States, I already had something agreed. The Arica thing was very good for me because it was only going to be a few months to be able to come in at the very start of the season here and not be six months in the air. I arrived here in 2018, I played one season. Unfortunately, I was not in good physical shape, my knees gave way, my body was asking me to stop. When I retired here, they offered me to join the academy, to join as manager and coach at the same time.

– Was it difficult for you to make the decision to return to Chile?

– Look, they gave me everything. Sponsorship to be able to live without problems, a good salary and the possibility of evolving within the club as well. Also the support if I ended up making the decision to go and work as a professionalism coach.

– When you arrived, were you planning to stay and live there or not?

– At the beginning, for me it was to live the experience of being here, to improve the language, because I have always had the concern to learn English well. And nothing better than living in a country where it is spoken. Being here, the idea of ​​why not stay here started to pop up. The quality of life is different, it’s a very pleasant city to grow up with as a family. People are very friendly and education, which is what I value the most today, is priceless for my daughter. Where she studies, the quality, the teachers and everything is very difficult to find in Chile. These reasons led me to make the decision to stay here.

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– Was it difficult to adapt as an ordinary citizen, without already being a professional athlete?

– It was difficult at first, because we missed the family, but we gained in many other areas, in quality of life and also in expectations for the future. The truth is that everything went very well from the start. The fact of having been a footballer, which on many occasions requires moving from one place to another, forces families to get used to it. We thought about stabilizing for a while and everything came together. What it cost was putting down roots with friends, also getting into the habit of mastering the language 100%. But with time we acquire it.

– As a family, do you already have your support network in the city?

– Yes, we made a lot of friends, both American and a Latino community that we meet here. We feel more at home, we go out on weekends, we meet around a barbecue with a couple of Colombian friends, with other Mexican friends too. The variety is wide.

“It’s very square here, they don’t leave a single place to chance, so we learn.”

Claudio Munoz

– What about the professional life of a person who works as a DT in an academy?

– Listen, being in an academy, you have to work a lot with the parents. The American dad is very respectful of what you work for, what you know and trusts what you do with the team and with his son or daughter. The Latin dad is very different, it’s other coaches who are next to you asking why, why play this way and something else. However, we already know this environment. Football is gaining strength in the United States, because of the girl problem, it has become very strong and now MLS is more competitive or more scrutinized as well.

– Would you like to direct in Chile? Go back to UC, Huachipato or a club where you were a player?

– Yes, this is one of the objectives that I have also had for a few years. Everything depends on how things develop here, but the country is always in my sights. Especially the teams where I was, mainly Católica and Huachipato, are clubs for which I have a lot of affection. It would be attractive. We have directing experience here, which is different. Because when you direct in your country, there are things you manage and you know the environment, but arriving here and having the personality to direct, in another language and dealing with the media, is very different. The form of the organization, everything is very square here, they don’t leave a single place to chance, so we learn different things.

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