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Alexandria Soccer Coach Taking Kids’ Games to the Next Level

Alexandria Soccer Association (ASA) Coach Peja Ilic Uses PI Training

Peja Ilic, Founder of PI Soccer Training (Photo Courtesy of PI Soccer Training).

Alexandria, VA – It’s a big summer for soccer, with Copa America heading to the DMV’s backyard and the US Women’s and Men’s national teams headed to the Olympics. But it takes a lot of work to make it to the top. If you have a kid hoping to go pro, just attending every training session and going on a jog every day won’t cut it. If your future soccer star hopes to stand out, a lot is needed to climb that mountain, including self-motivation, practicing outside practice, and consistently working out.

Alexandria Soccer Association (ASA) Coach Peja Ilic has seen many young athletes with big dreams come through the academy where he has coached for the past ten years. They all want just a little more. This prompted him to create PI Training to offer supplemental, individual training to players hoping to make their mark both on and off the field. Three years later, his business is thriving.

Soccer has been Peja’s life from a very young age growing up in Serbia. His love of the game is as strong as ever today. “The main love for soccer, however, came from my brother,” said Peja. “When he was playing with his friends, I always watched them. That, plus starting to train on my own when I was seven. I’ll turn 34 in a few weeks and love for the game and training as a player, it’s never stopped.”

The interior of PI Soccer Training’s new soccer facility (Photo Courtesy of PI Soccer Training).

Since falling in love with soccer, Peja has racked up an impressive soccer resume. At 17, he played professionally for a Division One club in Serbia. Five years later, he went to Ohio to play with the Columbus Crew for several months. When he came to Virginia to renew his VISA status, he was approached by members of ASA and offered the role of coach.

“Everything has worked out since then, and soon after, I started doing private sessions,” Peja said. “I love being one-on-one with players, not just helping them improve their technical abilities, but [to] improve their mindset and become more confident.”

He started offering his training eight years ago when ASA parents and players approached him asking for extra practice time and guidance. Many of the youth athletes seeking private training were from girls’ teams. Parents noted that their daughters hoped to play in high school or college and wanted to hone specific skills to improve.

Coach Peja training one-on-one with another athlete (Photo Courtesy of PI Soccer Training).

Peja hopes that with one-on-one sessions, he’ll foster consistency in rising athletes, which is one of the three pillars of his coaching philosophy: discipline, consistency, and commitment.

The coach’s training facility has a quote by Denzel Washington posted on the wall: “Without commitment, you’ll never start; without consistency, you’ll never finish.” Peja explained that this quote resonated with him when he first heard it and has stuck ever since.

“You need to like something doing something and to become great at it, you have to do it consistently,” Peja said. “You need to believe in yourself, to have confidence in yourself. You need discipline — and patience. You must be patient with yourself and your coaches, which will help you stay focused, stay consistent, and reach your final goal on and off the pitch.”

Speaking of confidence, Peja says you need a lot of it, saying, “That’s what PI Training focuses on. We like to guide our players and help them feel more confident on the field. We want to teach them how to compete successfully at many levels.”

How does this coach advise an athlete who hopes to take their game to the next level? “Show up every single day with the determination and discipline to get better, play better than you did before, and slowly you’ll be able to progress forward.”

To learn more about Peja and his training, visit PI TRAINING.

READ MORE: With Planet Fitness Summer Pass, High Schoolers in Alexandria Can Workout for Free

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