Former MLS player Pa-Modou Kah takes Pacific FC helm

Pa-Modou Kah’s lifetime of globe-trotting has landed him on the Island. The 10-time capped former Norwegian international was named head coach of Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League on Tuesday.

The native of The Gambia, who moved with his family to Norway at age eight, comes to Pacific FC after being assistant coach last season of FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer to now taking on his first pro head-coaching gig.

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Kah has more than 400 pro appearances, many in the top pro leagues of Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. and Canada, the latter with Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS.

The 39-year-old, who speaks seven languages, was a playing assistant coach with Whitecaps-2 and is familiar with several of the PFC players who came up through the Whitecaps academy.

“There are a lot of good players in Canada and they need this platform [CPL],” said Kah, of the Canadian domestic pro league, which enters its second season with PFC as a charter member.

“Canada is going to co-host the World Cup in 2026 and the CPL can produce future national-team players,” said Kah.

Not to mention players graduating to bigger pro paycheques in MLS and European Premiership leagues.

“It will happen. If that is not your ambition, then you might as well stop now,” said Kah.

“Canada is a developed country and needed to have its own league so Canadian players didn’t have to leave their own country to play pro football. This is very important for Canadian soccer.”

Kah has done his local homework.

“The Island has had a history of good players, from the three in the 1986 World Cup for Canada, to later pros and national team players like [PFC co-owner] Josh Simpson,” added Kah.

This is a guy who feels right at home because of his Whitecaps connections. They include PFC defender and former Whitecaps player Marcel de Jong, who Kah played with at Roda JC in the Dutch Premiership.

“Both my daughters were born in B.C.,” said Kah.

He met wife Dewy while playing in the Netherlands and the couple have two young girls — four-year-old Nahla Aja and 18-month-old Zahra Hana.

On the pitch, Kah said he plans on coaching a dynamic, up-tempo PFC squad.

“I believe in attacking football. My philosophy is that if the other team scores one goal, you have to score two,” he said.

“We want to excite both our players and our fans.”

Kah said he is proud to become the first person of Gambian ancestry to become head coach of a pro soccer team outside The Gambia, a Commonwealth nation in Africa.

“I was the first Norwegian player to play pro football on three continents and I am extremely proud of that, as well,” he said.

“Football has taken me around the world and through so many places and cultures.”

Kah replaces on the Pacific FC bench former Danish international Michael Silberbauer, who became the first head coach to be let go in CPL history, following PFC’s 2019 inaugural season record of 5-8-5 in the fall portion and 3-5-2 in the spring.

“We are extremely fortunate to have secured someone of this profile,” said Pacific FC CEO and GM Rob Friend.

“[Kah] understands the North American market, has international connections, and ultimately is very familiar with a majority of our players,” added Friend, a former Bundesliga pro and Canadian international.

James Merriman will stay on as PFC assistant coach. Added as assistant coach is Riley O’Neill, who came out of Campbell River to play NCAA Div. 1 for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, for Canada in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and pro in Germany and Finland.

Neil Sedgwick becomes the PFC manager of youth development.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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