By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
May 21, 2014-The East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) is one of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s (ENYYSA) largest leagues, covering a vast area of six counties. So how does the EHYSL get its philosophy about behavior and game operations to the teams, parents, players and referees in its 54 member clubs?
They send out the Scouts!
This spring, the EHYSL initiated the Scout Program. Every Sunday, up to eight Scouts are assigned to visit selected venues and observe plus “be a presence” at all the games at that venue.
“The response we have received to the Scout Program has been fantastic from both parents and coaches,” commented EHYSL President Jim Purdy. “And if the Scout Program keeps all on their toes at matches, there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”
The Scouts are jointly selected by EHYSL and the Hudson Valley Soccer Referee Association from long-time (10 years or more) referees, coaches and administrators active in youth soccer, and knowledgeable about its goals and procedures. The Scouts bring knowledge, of course, but also a fresh, objective view of the venue and the operations there, from coach organization to touchline behavior to referee performance.
In their mandatory weekly reports, the Scouts give the EHYSL an excellent sampling at what is occurring at every field complex. Such as answers to questions they ask of the spectators and participants at the matches. “How is your child enjoying this year in youth soccer?,” “What are your impressions of this season’s opposing teams and coaches?” and “Do you have anything you’d like to see changed?” It’s natural for people having ideas and concerns not to initiate a discourse if they believe their thoughts to be theirs alone, but if asked, they are very willing to answer.
What have the Scouts found?
• On a couple of auxiliary school-owned fields, they have found incorrectly measured features such as mismarked penalty areas.
• In two separate cases, they saw players’ younger siblings climbing on, and hanging from, unused goal structures. The Scouts saw what was happening and had the dangers eliminated before tragedy strikes.
• They have found some newer referees mishandling the administrative procedures and were able to instruct them.
• They’ve found great joy and pleasure in the youth soccer experience by the vast majority of children and parents. And, they have found that a quiet word, to a coach, about an “over-enthusiastic” parent, from an unbiased observer, prevents the escalation into something the referee might have to address.
President Purdy added, “Certainly, we still have the occasional game that does not go as well as we would hope but when we learn of those involved, we make sure to visit those teams in the near future. Our membership is very appreciative that the league took the initiative to work toward making this great game of soccer a truly fun and enjoyable experience for all, week in and week out.”
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. Eastern New York exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. Eastern New York is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.