Soccer is a lifetime sport

May 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

I got this in an email from the Utah State Soccer Technical Director, Greg Maas. He recently attended the US Youth Soccer Association conference in San Jose where the NSCAA Technical Director, Jeff Tipping had this to say about soccer as a lifetime sport:

“My take on youth development involves developing a soccer
culture….something which all of the player development organizations can
work together on. One of the issues I would have referred to in this
regard is age bracketing at the older “youth” age groups:

1. Age bracketing at the post 16 year old age bracket. It has always been
my view that you learn best from playing against better & older
players…..yet, due to our age bracketing we have players who only play
against players their own age….for life! We have college graduates who
have never played against a 35 year old until they graduate from college.
Being excluded from adult soccer is an issue with the Premier League &
other international Academies – which was the topic you asked me to speak
on. The second point goes with it.

2. Lack of adult teams at the pinnacle of the American club pyramid. The
vast majority of our clubs are like a headless body….youth teams with no
senior teams at the top. I think one of the indications of a healthy soccer
culture is the presence of large numbers of adult leagues & although that
is not exactly your mission i t should be a focal point in player
development as it gives younger players a goal, helps create a soccer
culture &, possibly, serves as an excellent modeling experience for young
players. This leads me to the third point.

3. Modeling. A huge aspect of player development is modeling….watching
older players play & mimicking them. This is particularly important in the
9-14 year age group. We all know our kids don’t watch enough soccer & part
of the reason is because younger players don’t get the habit of watching
soccer from older players. There seems to be a huge dividing line between
“Youth” players & “Senior” players & they rarely seem to mix. This is a
great pity & a significant aberration compared to other countries.”

I could not agree more! One major component missing from today’s clubs is the adult league. Why should it be that only our kids play for a club? Why can’t our clubs have an adult league. All European clubs have this component in all major sports. Why not America? Are we too busy? Are we too lazy? Do we think that soccer is just a kid’s sport?

I think it is, again, a mindset that we think “Well, I support my kid in soccer. I’m too busy/old/tired, etc. to play the game myself.” Bullshit! Get out on that field and show your kids that you can play! They will look up to you and respect you just for trying! A lot of the kids on my team come to watch me play indoor soccer. Whether it is comic relief for them (“come watch coach make a fool of himself”) or they come to cheer me on, I don’t care. They are coming out and seeing that I am, at least, trying to do what I am teaching them how to do. And a lot of them help me by giving me coaching tips just like I would give them when they are playing. It builds camaraderie between us and helps them understand what it is like trying to coach a player and helps me understand what they have to go through on the field.

I will be submitting my ideas to my club for a formal adult league. Maybe we will have to change our charter to include adult teams. But it is something that needs to be done to create a culture of soccer in America.

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