Leigh Rumbold is the type of footballer every coach wishes they had on their team. His work rate, tenacity and dedication to winning is second to none.
Rumbold, who will be returning for the 2017 campaign with The Mighty Oak, brings a great deal of experience and leadership, which was crucial to the club’s success this past season.
As a leader on and off the pitch, Rumbold is someone that is loved by the coaching staff, his teammates and the fans alike. In 2016, he receive the “Hometown Hero” award, which caught the UK native by surprise. As a transplant to Washtenaw County, Rumbold has become a fixture in the soccer scene from youth to semi-professional.
Jake Rosen, another returning local player, was thrilled to know Rumbold would be back in 2017.
Rosen added, “When he’s [Rumbold] on the pitch, there’s an energy that elevates everyone’s play. You just feel more confident knowing you’ve got a guy like Leigh on your side.”
As a youth coach for local club Saline FC, Rumbold has become one of the most popular players in the community since his players and their families continue to show him a great deal of support.
Rumbold himself admitted, “My favorite thing about playing for AFC Ann Arbor is seeing all of the kids come out to watch us play.”
Here’s more from our chat with Leigh about the upcoming season.
AFC Ann Arbor: You've played in the NPSL Midwest Region for a few years now and have had a lot of success. What keeps you motivated and going? What are you goals with AFC Ann Arbor this season?
LR: The thing that motivates me the most is the level of competition in the NPSL. After playing in the league for a few years, you start to form individual battles against opponents. It's always fun going up against certain players knowing that if you get the better of them on that night, it could have a big influence on the team's result.
This year, the main goal for the team on the field is to replicate what we managed to do last year and reach the playoffs. Going out on PK's still stings, so hopefully we can go one better and reach the playoff final.
AFC Ann Arbor: Being one of the older, local guys- you play the role of teammate, tour guide, host and mentor. How do you juggle all of these responsibilities? Seems like you thrive in a leadership role as well- can you speak to that a bit.
LR: I'm not that old! Spring leading into summer is by far the busiest time of the year for me. With coaching four teams for Saline FC, preparing for the start of the NPSL season and trying to help the new lads settle into the area, there isn't a lot of spare time. Luckily for me, I like to keep busy. We always try to organize events and dinners where everyone at the club gets involved to show the players what Ann Arbor has to offer. Usually after a home game, we like to head into town as a group and get to know each other a bit more away from the pitch, which inevitably brings us closer.
AFC Ann Arbor: You're one of the best known coaches in the area- what does it mean to you to have such a large impact on the growth of the game? What does it mean to you to have all of these young kids look up to you?
LR: It really means a lot. My favorite thing about playing for AFC Ann Arbor is seeing all of the kids come out to watch us play. I love working with kids and trying to help them become better players. Kids are like sponges- any piece of information you give them, they absorb it. Any challenge you set for them, they want to show you they can do it. But more importantly, I want to help them develop a love for the game like I did when I was their age, which I still carry today. I want all of the kids I work with and who watch us play to still be playing soccer when they are my age and hopefully older.
About AFC Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor completed a very successful inaugural campaign in the Midwest Region of the National Premier Soccer League finishing 2nd in the conference while earning the club’s first playoff berth. The club’s third season kicks off in May as The Mighty Oak look to continue their winning ways under Head Coach Eric Rudland. Youth, General and Premium Memberships for Season Tree can be purchased here.