By Bruce Constantineau
Former Tottenham Hotspur reserve midfielder Kieran McKenna has begun an eight-week stint as a guest assistant coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps residency squad.
The 24-year-old former Northern Ireland youth international, whose promising career was cut short by a hip injury last year, has gained coaching experience with the Tottenham, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest academies in England since his playing days ended.
His arrival in Vancouver comes as a direct result of the connections maintained by Whitecaps chief executive officer Paul Barber, a former executive director of Spurs.
McKenna coached a college team in New York last summer and will work with young players of all ages in Whitecaps youth teams and at summer soccer camps.
"This gives me a great chance to work in a different footballing culture," he said. "It's a terrific opportunity for me to learn and hopefully the players will learn something from me."
McKenna has completed several coaching courses already and is working on a sport science degree to boost his credentials.
"In 20 years, I think every coach will have to have a good knowledge of the scientific aspects of the game so it's good to get a head start on it," he said.
McKenna has known Whitecaps midfielder Jonny Steele since he was 13 as the two played together on Northern Ireland national teams from U-14 through to the U-20 level.