Bilingual Reporter Program: Interview with Gavin Wilkinson

Somos Timbers provides opportunity for youth to interview Timbers players & staff

The Bilingual Reporter program is designed to encourage Hispanic youth to be proud of their heritage and language. Students are nominated by their teachers and then apply to have the opportunity to interview a Timbers player or a member of the coaching staff. Following the interview, the selected students are required to write a report about the experience in English and Spanish. With a professional interview, the students are able to further develop their bilingual speaking and writing skills while exhibiting a passion for the sport. 

Q & A with General Manager Gavin Wilkinson

Written by Osvaldo Figueroa, Sunset High School

At what age did Wilkinson decide to become a soccer player?
Gavin played soccer for most of his life. He started at the age of 4. He’s originally from New Zealand where soccer was looked down upon and where rugby was more popular.

At what age did he decide he wanted to become a General Manager?
Once he grew older and decided to retire as a soccer player that’s when he decided to become a general manager, which was in his early 30’s.

As a General Manager for the Portland Timbers and a parent of two, how does Gavin manage to do both things at the same time?
It is a hard thing to do with all the traveling and time that he has to dedicate to his team. But Gavin said that with his amazing wife, it makes his job and life much easier. Since his children both love soccer he can bring the kids along so he can do both.

What made him decide to take on being General Manager for the Portland Timbers?
At first he decided on the coaching side as his job for the Timbers.  Over time, he built an interest in the business and managerial side for the Portland Timbers toward the end of his playing career.

As a former soccer player, what was the most difficult situation Wilkinson has had to overcome?
For Gavin the most difficult situation he had to overcome as a soccer player was facing Brazil in the Confederation Cup. And also the fact that in New Zealand, soccer was not as popular a sport in the country.

What is the most difficult part about being a General Manager?
Time has to be one of the most difficult things there is to managing a team. It takes over your lifestyle since all you’re around is soccer. Another thing that is challenging for a manager is the fact that he can only play eleven players at a time and he must keep the rest of the team happy and give them all a little time to play.

Given the choice of managing any team other than the Timbers, who would it be?
If Gavin could pick any team it would have to be either Barcelona or Manchester United because they are each one of the greatest teams in his opinion.

If Gavin could coach any player he wanted, who would it be?
Without out a doubt it would be Lionel Messi, but it wouldn’t be coaching him too much since he is already the best. It would be more like observing him and taking notes on what he does to become a great player.

Who has influenced Wilkinson the most throughout his General Manager and soccer playing career?
Many people have helped him throughout his career from coaches he has had to teammates he has played with, but he believes that his parents have had the biggest impact in what he does today. They were always there with him when it came to soccer.

What is some advice for someone like me who is interested in becoming a coach or a General Manager?
The biggest advice I can give for someone who wants to be a coach is to observe. Whenever you are near the pitch just look around and take note of what players are doing well, and where they can improve so you can help them get better.