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Winsper quits TFC to work for Nike
December 11, 2009, 8:05 PM
Filed under: Paul Winsper, Toronto FC

Fitness guru Paul Winsper is leaving his job as strength and conditioning coach of Toronto FC for a new position with Nike, the Englishman confirmed to on Friday.

Winsper, who is under contract to the MLS club until Dec. 31, said he and his family will be moving in January to Oregon, where he will serve as sports performance director for Nike.

Nike’s world headquarters are in Beaverton.

Winsper, 43, said Toronto FC offered him a two-year contract extension, but the job offer from Nike that they first made to him in the summer was just too good to pass up.

“It’s an unbelievable job offer that I can’t really turn down. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” Winsper told

Winsper, who told Toronto FC general manager of his decision to leave on Wednesday, added ‘”it was time to move on and try something else.”

He said there was “absolutely no hard feelings” between himself and the soccer club. He also described his new position with Nike as a “dream job.”

“There’s only one position like this in the world, whereas there are a lot of fitness coaches in professional sports,” Winsper stated.

“Nike has set up a new division called SPARQ, which is their training arm. I’ll be working with teams from all over the world as a training resource for coaches. … It’s going to be a global resource for all different sports.”

Winsper already had a relationship with the athletic-wear company as a consultant.

“I’ve been working for Nike for three years, and Toronto FC have been absolutely fantastic about that. They’ve allowed me to travel all over the globe with Nike, even during the MLS season,” Winsper explained.

The loss of Winsper is a big blow for Toronto FC, as the Englishman was a well-liked and respected figure who had a reputation for pushing players in gruelling training and workout sessions that he designed.

He joined Toronto FC prior to the start of the 2008 MLS campaign, having spent the previous 10 seasons with Newcastle United of the English Premiership where he served as the team’s fitness coach.

Thanks players

With his hometown club, he worked with some of the game’s biggest stars, including Michael Owen and Alan Shearer. He also worked with England star David Beckham before he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007.

Winsper said he, his wife and eight-year-old son Harry will be leaving Canada with heavy hearts.

“It’s quite sad because my family and I absolutely love it here in Canada,” Winsper said.

“We moved here and had a wonderful time, but this is a permanent job for life with Nike and I’ve worked contractually for pro sports clubs for many years, and now I think is the time to settle down a bit and get a permanent position.”

When word of his pending departure filtered through the halls of BMO Field on Friday, he instantly received a slew of text messages and emails from Toronto FC players.

That meant a lot to the Newcastle native.

“I want to say a huge thanks to the players because they motivated me every day and work hard. They’re a great bunch of professionals,” Winsper said.

Source: Click Here

Winsper almost hit by Car
February 11, 2009, 8:28 AM
Filed under: Paul Winsper, Toronto FC

A father remained in jail Tuesday night after he allegedly let his 8-year-son son drive a van, which took out a couple of trees and nearly hit two pedestrians in a parking lot, according to Bradenton Police reports.

Police arrested Mark A. Belanger, 34, of Sarasota, on charges of child abuse just before midnight Sunday in an Albertsons parking lot in the 4600 block of Cortez Road.

Belanger told police he was “feeling woozy and didn’t want to drive.” He also told them he let his child drive “because he wanted to have a bonding moment with his son.”

The two pedestrians nearly hit by the child driver are coaches with a Major League Soccer club team, Toronto FC. The team has been in the area for about a week in a training camp.

“I kind of panicked and ran as soon as I saw the car speeding toward us,” said Paul Winsper, a strength and conditioning coach, in a telephone interview Monday. “Your mind goes through lots of different things. I didn’t want to hang around just in case.”

The coaches contacted authorities immediately after the incident.

“We saw the little boy get out of the car. As soon as we saw him, we feared for his safety. It was for the child’s safety more than anything else that we called,” Winsper said.

Witnesses said the boy crashed the van into a tree, shattering the driver’s side rear window, after the two coaches got out of the way. The boy then crashed a second time into a tree, damaging the car’s radiator, the police report said.

When police arrived, Belanger fell to the ground after he dropped his wallet. When he fell, he slammed his face on the pavement, leaving a gash on the bridge of his nose.

The boy told police his father took “liquid medicine in order to feel better.” He pointed to an empty bottle of Canadian whiskey in the vehicle.

Belanger reportedly resisted arrest when officers took him into custody. He tried to kick out the windows in patrol car and was consequently pepper sprayed, the police report said.

Belanger remains in jail on a $10,120 bond on charges of child abuse and permitting an unlicensed driver to drive.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.