Footballers are no stranger to traveling the world, and it’s no exception for Leigh Rumbold, captain of The Mighty Oak. Football has helped him find a home away from home in Washtenaw County.
After playing for teams in his native England, Europe, and throughout the United States, Rumbold settled down in Saline in 2013 as he pursued a career in youth coaching. Currently, Rumbold is coaching 4 youth teams for Saline FC and is known as one the best coaches in the area.
Looking to stay active at the semi-pro level, he reunited with Coach Eric Rudland at AFC Ann Arbor, both formerly of Lansing United.
The AFC Ann Arbor captain’s ability to connect with players and people in the Saline and Ann Arbor communities, helped Rumbold earn the “Hometown Hero” award at the 2016 AFC Ann Arbor Awards Dinner. An award that not only surprised him, but also meant a great deal to the midfielder.
“It was a great honor to lead the team this year and receive the Hometown Hero award, an award I definitely wasn't expecting. I think it gives me a little more responsibility in helping the lads who don't come from this area. Especially helping them get settled as quickly as possible when they first arrive, so they can just focus on playing football and not worry about some of the other things that come with moving to a new area.”
When asked about Rumbold, Coach Rudland said, “Leigh was a great addition to the club this past year. He has a strong connection to the local community and was a respected leader in the team. It was great for me to work with Leigh again after previously working with him in Lansing. He became a mainstay in our team and someone who we hope to keep as part of the club for years to come.”
As a youth coach Leigh’s greatest asset is his ability to teach young players technical skills, while while still being able to impress upon them the larger team skills that allow them to grow as players and people.
“A big reward for me is how you can build character and teach life lessons through team sports. Teaching players how to deal with certain situations on the field that they may face later on in life away from sport,” said Rumbold.
He added, “The thing I love most about coaching is being able to help players improve their technical skills and understanding of the game I love.”
Just as Rumbold has become popular with the kids he coaches, he has also become a fan favorite, after just one season with The Mighty Oak. “I still get stopped at the supermarket or at tournaments from people who had been to an AFC game last summer and are already looking forward to seeing us play again next year.”
About AFC Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor, also known as The Mighty Oak, compete in the Midwest Region of the National Premier Soccer League. Entering just the 3rd season for the young club, AFC has quickly become a community staple in Washtenaw County. Under Head Coach and Sporting Director Eric Rudland The Mighty Oak made the Sweet 16 (out of 80 + teams) in the 2016 NPSL playoffs.