July 16, 2024
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Vancouver FC Dominic Rajna Coach

Vancouver FC Adds 18-Year-Old Dominic Rajna To Coaching Staff

By on March 17, 2024 0 6268 Views

Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC has already made history by signing the league’s youngest-ever player, and will now double-down on its demolition of age barriers by recruiting the youngest-ever coach to hold a position within Canadian Premier League ranks.

The club has recruited 18-year-old Dominic Rajna, who made his senior team coaching debut in League1 Ontario last summer at Sigma FC. Aged just 17 years old at the time, he broke a record for youngest coach in League1 Ontario history and has evidently kept turning heads in the time since.

He now lists himself as a video analyst and assistant coach with Vancouver FC, who are heading in to their second-ever season with an aim to bring playoff football to Langley.

Sigma FC Dominic Rajna
Photo Credit: Vasiliy Ryabykh / League1 Ontario.

The Mississauga-born youngster has been described a prodigy: holding his UEFA B license with aspirations to go as high as he can, it appears the driven 18-year-old has been with the CPL side since preseason for campaign number two went live.

Incredibly, Rajna’s coaching journey began has we just twelve years old, with his time with Sigma FC allowing him to eventually step into roles such as a U-15 head coach and opposition analyst before he formally became the League1 Ontario side’s assistant coach last year. That’s when his opportunity to fill in as head coach came in, bringing the teenager further spotlight before his newest opportunity at the professional level.

Of course, the professional level requires professional badges – but that’s something that is no barrier to the 18-year-old.

In truth, Rajna began obtaining his coaching licenses when he was fifteen – that’s a year earlier than one is permitted, and something the Scottish FA eventually discovered in an event Rajna himself described as ‘kind of funny’. Last year saw him complete his UEFA B License, with Rajna keen to complete his UEFA A and Elite Youth A licenses before the final hurdle: the holy grail of coaching credentials, the UEFA PRO license.

“Ultimately the objective is to get the UEFA Pro license as soon as possible, and ultimately become the youngest with that license in the history of the game – that’s my ultimate aspiration,” Rajna told The Insiders Lounge, admitting that might have been why he kickstarted his licensing journey a year before he was technically allowed to.

Sigma FC Dominic Rajna
Photo Credit: Vasiliy Ryabykh / League1 Ontario.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Rajna is enrolled online with Arizona State University, where he’s started a bachelor of arts in psychology, while at the same time he’s been granted permission to pursue a Masters in tactical periodization at the at the Official School of Tactical Periodisation, a subject in which Marc Dos Santos also cut his teeth.

Capable of speaking in English, Slovakian, French, and Spanish – with a course on Danish more recently started – he’s giving himself every tool possible to gain an advantage from the technical area. He’s taken educational trips to Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, and Denmark to experience different footballing environments from a coaching perspective, adding select pieces to his wheelhouse as he goes.

“I think learning from the different ways and taking what you want out of it is really important, but it’s about really being a sponge with the information you’re trying to receive. I’ve took a lot from these trips, and also learning from people in different positions,” says the new Vancouver coach.

While Rajna has worked tirelessly to earn every badge and opportunity he can, he’s accustomed to his age being a magnet for criticism, so he’s built a thick skin on the subject.

“There’s been a lot of people who look at my age and say this guy knows nothing,” says Rajna. “At the end of the day, I have no problem with that. I also acknowledge I don’t have as much practical experience as other coaches. I lack the practical experience, but what I will say is my knowledge of theory is quite high – I don’t want to sound arrogant, and I don’t want to be arrogant, but I think it’s one of the best in Canada.”

“It’s good to have theory, especially if you’re an assistant or a video analyst – but realistically, it’s the practical aspect that is the most important,” he adds.

That’s something that the Vancouver FC can certainly offer him: with at least 28 regular season professional matches on the menu in addition to domestic cup action and the potential for playoffs, his new chapter in Langley will mark a great first-hand stint in professional football.

Head coach Afshin Ghotbi has transformed his coaching staff heading into year two, with local assistants Nyall Thompson and Arez Ardalani stepping down to be replaced by another local face in Azad Palani, while Ghotbi will reunite with longtime coaching partner Marco Ferreira.

The club has yet to formally announce Rajna’s arrival, which has quietly – for now – made history in domestic football circles.

Header Image Photo Credit: Beau Chevalier

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