Jonas Richardson brings energy to Gaston United Soccer Club
Diversity can change your perspective. As the new executive director of Gaston United Soccer Club, Jonas Richardson wants to foster a diverse playing environment where children can learn the game and develop as people without the financial burden for their families.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can increase our scholarship fund,” he said. “That’s big in the States right now—to me it’s like pay to play. If you have the money, you can play. Soccer is an expensive sport. We have to find a way to provide the right environment for minorities and not let the fees become a burden. That’s going to take community partnerships and relationships to bring the diversity on board, because it is the world’s game.”
During his collegiate playing days at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia, Richardson saw the diversity of his team translate into creativity on the field. “We had guys from Jamaica, Australia, Ireland, Iceland,” he recalled. “Hanging around those guys and seeing their passion for the game was eye-opening. That environment helped me view the game differently. If you go to a different country you’ll see that the passion is different and the styles of play are different.”
While earning an undergraduate degree in business administration at Thomas, Richardson was introduced to coaching. “I just wanted more,” he said. “It was entertaining to me—just to learn more about the game and try to be a little bit more complete coach.”
Richardson, a native of Anderson, S.C., comes to Gaston United after three years with the Carolina Rapids, where he oversaw the club’s Youth Academy and coached under-13 and under-14 boys. Prior to his time with the Rapids, Richardson coached at Charlotte United Futbol Club from 2007-13.
“I had the privilege of learning from one of the elite directors in this region — Kevin Flanagan,” Richardson said. “He kind of mentored me over the last three years and kind of prepped me indirectly for where I’m at now.”
Richardson’s journey with the game began early in life. “I pretty much had no other choice, because my mom [Ruby Richardson] put me into the sport,” he said. “Growing up, I was fortune to have quality grassroots coaches like Rick Wright (Anderson College, Erskine College) and the late I.M. Ibrahim (Clemson) which both help me develop passion for the game and instill in me a refusal to settle for anything less than the very best.”