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American GM Leads Dutch Team to Brink of Promotion

SC Cambuur, a Dutch club managed by Bethesda, Md., native Alex Pama, is close to gaining promotion to the Eredivise and playing in the Netherlands' top flight for the first time in nine years, reports Steven Goff of the Washington Post. Pama, who moved to the Netherlands with his family at age 5, returned to America to coach youth soccer programs in Idaho, Arkansas and Georgia. He was preparing to give up soccer and enter the corporate world when, through a former player in the Netherlands, he was contacted by Cambuur about a front-office position.

Under his guidance, Cambuur has pulled itself out of financial ruin, and this spring has advanced to the final round of playoffs for promotion. As an American, Pama has had to prove his knowledge to a skeptical audience. "Americans in football in Europe are not easily accepted," he said in a phone interview. "You come from a third-world country in soccer. As Americans, we look at the possibilities, not the impossibilities. In Europe, they want to see it; they're more negative. I was working at a faster pace that they are used to."

Cambuur will play top-tier club Roda (16th place among 18 clubs) in a series that begins Thursday. In the Netherlands, top second-division teams battle low-finishing Eredivise clubs to earn a berth in the first tier the following season.

 

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