February 14, 2007 Toronto FC has trainer in camp (from TorontoFC.ca)

02/14/2007 6:15PM
Winsper whips Toronto FC into shape

Preseason training is serious stuff. Players returning back for another year have either looked after themselves well, or ... not so much. But that's what this time of year is all about.

For Toronto FC's inaugural camp, head coach Mo Johnston has enlisted the help of someone who knows about fitness. Paul Winsper has joined the rest of the staff as strength and conditioning coach for two weeks while they're in Sunrise, Fla. A big part of his job is to help whip this team into shape.

Winsper has a long list of credentials, including working with England's national cricket team. He then moved on to Premiership giants Newcastle United, where he's worked with some of the world's best players like Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Keiron Dyer and Patrick Kluivert. The list goes on.

Johnston and Winsper hooked up on the coach's scouting tour of England.

"I sat down with Mo when he came to the UK a while back," said Winsper. "We had a chat and he asked if I would be interested in coming down."

At the start and close of every practice, the players are put through the paces under the sharp eye -- and Geordie tongue -- of Winsper. From stretching and sprinting to core work, he's got everything covered.

"It's always important to see the other side of soccer in terms of the fitness level -- looking at certain guys bodies, and getting them into shape," said Johnston.

It's still very early in training, but so far Winsper is impressed by what he's seen.

"The team's looking good," he said with a smile. "A lot of them are in shape this early. Players come into the game in great shape these days. Some people think they show up to training and that's it, but it's not like that anymore."

Before Winsper goes back to the UK, Johnston says he'll have him write up some programs for a few of the players to follow. Winsper has been working a lot with Toronto's No. 1 MLS SuperDraft pick Maurice Edu, who's patiently working through a pelvis injury.

"You know, it's not holiday camp. This is for real," said Johnston. "It separates the men from the boys. And listen, if it's good enough for Shearer and Dyer and these kind of guys, then it's good enough for us."

Winsper says he may return later on in the season, giving the players something to look forward to. Namely, it's those killer abdominal workouts at the end of practice.

back to Toronto FC menu