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HARVARD — He left following a loud bang, served up by Mother Nature.

Tom Whiffen of Leicester, England came to the United States on June 25 to coach youth soccer this fall. He arrived in Harvard on Labor Day and was put to work preparing for and coaching the coaches for Harvard’s fall youth soccer season.

Wiffen is employed by Challenger British Soccer Sports, which imports its Skill Development Program, teaching the children the foundation skills necessary for playing soccer. Dribbling, turning, control and passing the ball were part of the weekly practices and Saturday morning play on Ryan Field.

But the early morning face-offs taught more, including respect for teammates, responsibility, integrity, leadership and sportsmanship.

“I played at college for my university,” said Whiffen. “And I’m just playing for a local side. Non-paid. It’s amateur football.”

Does he aspire to go pro? “No, I’m too old now,” laughed Whiffen, who is a ripe old 26 years of age. “I’m past my prime. Time has passed unfortunately for that.”

Wiffen said this was his first year working for Challenger Soccer and that he hopes to return stateside again for a second season starting in April.

“I’ll carry on coaching kids. I enjoy that,” said Wiffen. “I also studied theater as a degree.”

Wiffen is a character actor. He said “hopefully” one day he’d be able to appear on a Broadway stage to add to the acting resume he’s building back home.

Wiffen flew back to his native country on Nov. 5 as Harvard children hung up their cleats and slipped into their Halloween costumes for a snow-delayed trick-or-treat.

— Mary Arata

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