Hitting the Soccer Field with Coach Chris Bart-Williams

Get to know the Head Coach at Coral Gables Soccer Academy

Chris Bart-Williams found soccer at seven, just a few years after moving to England from Sierra Leone at the age of four. At 15, he signed with Leyton Orient and went on to play his first professional game in a preseason friendly against Chelsea (in his words, “basically a very big deal”) before he was traded to Sheffield Wednesday in 1991. After a successful 31-year career in the Premiership, the soccer star retired from playing and launched his coaching career. He moved to South Florida in 2019 after coaching collegiate American women’s teams alongside legendary coach Tony DiCicco.

In a twist of fate, Bart-Williams moved in next door to City Commissioner Kirk Menendez and discovered he had played against the commissioner’s son while in a coaching position several years prior. Familiar with the coach’s skill, Menendez encouraged him to apply for the coaching job at the Coral Gables Soccer Academy. Bart-Williams accepted and has spent the last several years rebuilding the program at the Youth Center from the ground up in the wake of the pandemic.

Chris Bart-Williams’ Latest Achievement

The Coral Gables Soccer Academy has expanded to include over 20 families throughout the community. The program is rigorous, meant to provide support to kids who aspire to play not just for their middle and high schools but also on a collegiate or even professional level. Bart-Williams has worked to make sure the Academy is a well-rounded mentoring experience designed “specifically for the Gables community,” and encourages accountability and responsibility for players at all levels. 

“I think the strength of the program will be its focus on developing the Coral Gables community and providing opportunities for kids and families with aspirations to reach their full potential in the sport. For me, the excitement lies in building something special and unique for a community that is itself very unique.”

Bart-Williams adds that as a former resident (he moved from Menendez’s street to Coconut Grove), he appreciate all that the community has to offer. “Now I have the opportunity to work with these amazing kids and families and create a pipeline. It’s truly wonderful and the end result is going to be amazing.”