A Florentine Father: The story of Andrea and Nicho Agnoloni

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As we celebrate Father’s Day, many people across Vancouver and Canada will be thanking their dads for the lives that they’ve given them. Lives, for many, that began outside of Canada.

This is the story of Whitecaps FC MLS Academy coach Nicho Agnoloni, and his dad Andrea.

Like most young kids in Florence, Andrea Agnoloni grew up a fan of Fiorentina.

Giancarlo Antognoni. Daniel Passarella. Daniel Bertoni. Roberto Baggio.

These were the idols of the children playing on the soccer pitches and in the streets.

“Back in those days, they would open the gates 15 minutes before the end of the game. They would let everybody go in without paying, just for the last 15 minutes. So that was how I remember my dad taking me for the first time, and that was like ‘wow’. Those are the moments I remember.”

Despite that passion for football, Andrea didn’t really play organized soccer in Italy. Instead, it was another beloved sport in Italy that drew him in.

Competitive cycling.

“I used to play [football] with friends here and there, and there was a team in Florence that came for me, but when I was 14 I told them I was going to go race bicycles.”

But little did he know at that time that like many Italians around the world, football would never leave his side. In fact, it would become a big part of the future for both himself and his family.

A life-changing meeting

Andrea didn’t speak much English. Julia didn’t speak much Italian.

Julia was from Vancouver, and she was in Florence to study abroad.

Some friends of Andrea’s had met Julia and a group of Canadians.

They went out together, and fell in love.

They would later get married and moved to Vancouver when Andrea was 25.

That would open up a whole new adventure.

“It was all new for me,” tells Andrea.

It was a move that ultimately brought football back to prominence.

When the Agnolonis had two boys, Matteo and Nicho, football fever hit.

“We would always go to the park with my dad and kick the ball around,” remembers Nicho. “I think that’s where it all started for me.”

Coach Agnoloni Part I

When Andrea’s oldest son Matteo began playing with Lions Gate Soccer, Andrea decided he would get involved as a coach.

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That turned into joining the board. Little by little, he began playing a bigger role in supporting the local soccer scene.

“I started to get into the soccer community very heavily. Eventually we set up a club in North Vancouver called Mountain.”

That club was a part of a program in conjunction with the Whitecaps and BC Soccer. They played as a ‘Caps academy affiliate in the old Super Y-League, played in the summer.

Both of his sons, Matteo and Nicho, played for Mountain.

“It was fun,” remembers Andrea. “We qualified a couple of times for the North American Championship in Florida. We twice made the final.”

“We had some really good teams,” remembers Nicho. “I’m still friends with a few of my teammates.”

Coach Agnoloni Part II

When Nicho was 16, he tore his ACL.

It was a tough time, as that was a key age in tryouts for the higher levels.

“It was right before we were going to Florida for the North American championship,” recalls Nicho. “It was tough. It’s a long injury.”

But that wouldn’t deter Nicho from his love for the game, and for Andrea he found the best way to make that happen.

“When I was at Mountain, I asked the technical director Frank Ciaccia if he could get involved with coaching soccer.”

Nicho began coaching as an assistant at Mountain with Ron Cuthbert, and then later with Michael D’Agostino who is now the ‘Caps MLS first team assistant coach.

After that, Nicho returned to playing with Capilano College, before another ACL injury.

But the opportunity to move to the coaching side drove him.

In 2015, he would go on to coach with his dad as an assistant coach at Mountain.

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Now, years after Andrea coached as part of the Whitecaps FC youth system, Nicho is now working as a coach in the Whitecaps FC MLS Academy, leading the U-16 boys as head coach in the 2023-24 season.

“He’s done well,” says Andrea proudly. “He was unlucky with the injuries, but maybe the unluck was positive because it’s brought him here.”

Family bonds

Andrea returns to Italy every year to visit his parents, who are still living there.

Every time he returns he goes to a Fiorentina game.

Nicho would often join him, and now with his busy schedule he goes as often as he can.

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And it’s that family bond, that passion for where they’ve come from, that continues to play a big role in driving him on his coaching journey.

“I would just say thank you,” said Nicho, as Father’s Day approached. “Because of him I got a passion for the sport and a passion for coaching, and he’s instilled a lot of character traits that I try to instill in my players today.”