Wolves add Lalama to coaching staff
The addition of Rob Lalama to the coaching staff of the Club Roma Wolves expansion U-21 women’s Primavera team is a win-win situation for both sides.
The 60-year-old Welland native, who has a long and creditable coaching background, gives the Wolves a recognizable and well-respected name behind the bench.
Lalama, meanwhile, was looking to pad his resume even more after leading the Niagara College Knights women’s team to a bronze medal at the 2022 Provincial Championships, the first soccer medal in school history.
“I had seriously been thinking of doing something in the summer that could enhance my program at Niagara and then at the exact same time I was contemplating this, I was approached by Roma,” Lalama said. “It was almost like fate.
“We’ve had success and come a long way in a short time but how do I get to that next level? Finishing in the top three with a bronze was huge, but how do you stay there?”
Roma director of soccer operations Carmine Provenzano contacted Lalama and the two clicked immediately.
“We had three or four meetings, good conversations,” Lalama said. “I really loved the feeling of the meetings. I knew (Roma technical director) Davide (Massafra) prior and then I met Carm. I think I’m a good judge of character quality and we seemed to hit it off.”
Provenzano said Lalama was an easy choice.
“He was on our radar last year,” Provenzano said. “Not knowing Rob, he was supporting our program. He asked some of his women to come and try out for our team which was a really good thing. I didn’t know him face to face.
“I saw the success at the college and was at a couple of games. I saw the demeanour and the coaching and liked it and Davide liked it so we approached Rob.”
Provenzano feels Lalama’s coaching style is perfect for a women’s expansion club.
“We need somebody that can be patient with the team, somebody who can help grow the team and somebody who can be competitive,” he said. “We need someone who is able to relate to the women and coaching at Niagara College has really helped.”
Lalama, who has coached the women’s team at Niagara since 2017, is eager to get started.
“There’s a little bit of the unknown,” she said. “When I started at the college it was the same thing. I wasn’t as comfortable in my first year as in my fifth and sixth because you understand the ins and ours and trial and error kind of thing. The comfort level raises each year.”
The Wolves have held about a half dozen pre-trials so far and plan to kick it up a notch in 2023.
“We have a pretty good pool that we think can either filter up to Premier or go down and play U21. In the new year, we’ll do more consistent pre-trials,” Provenzano said.
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