Blaise Nkufo, Head Coach, Rino’s Tigers
Blaise Nkufo is the head coach of the Rino’s Tigers in the Premier Division of the VMSL. Blaise is one of the most decorated football people operating in Canada. He has played at the highest level for top clubs in Europe and earned 33 international caps for Switzerland. During his illustrious career, Blaise earned legendary status with is beloved FC Twente in the Eredivisie, where he was the top goalscorer for five of his six seasons with the club. In fact, he captained the team to their first-ever Dutch league title in 2010 and his contribution to the club has been symbolized with a statue outside the club’s stadium, De Grolsch Veste. Blaise was also an integral part of Switzerland’s World Cup dreams in 2010 in South Africa. During that campaign, he helped his nation defeat eventual World Cup champions Spain.
Today, Blaise runs an elite soccer academy here in Vancouver and in Cameroon. Both academies have produced professional players who are now competing in Europe. Blaise is committed to supporting the development of players and giving them the pathway to living their dreams as professional soccer players.
As you can see, Blaise’s football pedigree is deep and we are extremely grateful and fortunate to have him at our club
Andrew Norton, Head Coach, Rino’s Fury
Originally from Middlesbrough, Coach Norton has been coaching and managing football teams for the last sixteen years. His coaching career began in the Middlesbrough FC youth academy during the glory years of Juninho, Ravanelli, and Gaizka Mendieta. During his time at Middlesbrough, Norton earned his coaching badges and developed a very technical possession-based football philosophy.
In 2015/16, Derrick Freedman and the club management team convinced Norton to swap the bright lights of Middlesbrough and take over the Rino’s Division 2 team. In his first season, Norton guided the team to the league title and provincial cup final. The success seemed to attract the attention of big clubs in London and before we knew it, Norton was lured back to the UK to take on a new challenge.
Following three character-building years in London, Coach Norton and the Rino’s have reunited again. Norton was appointed head coach of the Division one team in May of 2020 and he is excited to be back at the club he loves so well. The relationship between Norton and the club is somewhat akin to José Mourinho and Chelsea.
Derrick Freedman, Sporting Director, Rino’s Vancouver Soccer Club
Born and raised in Vancouver, Derrick has been involved in senior men’s soccer for over 15 years. As a player, he was a member of the 2006 Rino’s Westside Provincial winning team and after getting into coaching and management became one of the founders of Rino’s Vancouver Soccer Club.
Injuries may have limited Derrick’s contributions on the pitch in recent years, but he remains active outside the lines. He has held various roles with Rino’s teams across the spectrum of divisions and is now the club’s Sporting Director, responsible for all club operations.
Away from the field, Derrick is part of the EA Sports development team that creates the FIFA video game which is played by tens of millions of soccer fans around the world. He also dabbles in fantasy sports, with multiple top 25 global placings in the official MLS Fantasy game. Suffice it to say the sport of soccer is never far from Derrick’s mind.