By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
Despite all the screaming and kicking from those impacted by the new Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) trainer pass program, the 11 leagues agreed, and as of August 30, 2014, the new program will take effect. I honestly believe that two things are true and should be acknowledged by all:
1. 99% of parents want a suitably educated coach to help develop their child's love for sport.
2. This desire goes well beyond simply wanting an educated coach at their competitive games.
I have to admit that I really do not understand why people are surprised that ENYYSA is at last demanding that those professionals teaching the game to youth players have some sort of basic educational requirement. I would hope that any true professional coaches out there, who take pride in their craft, applaud the state for bringing some sense of professionalism to a multimillion dollar business.
How many of you reading this would send your child to a school where the teachers were nice, friendly and perhaps even cute, BUT had no teaching license?
Perhaps considering the current numbers of players (75%) that stop playing by age 13, and the rising percentage of obesity rates in the US, the same level of importance as having an educated and licensed teacher for a classroom should be applied to the principle of having a educated and licensed coach on a field.
The ENYYSA trainer pass program goes a long way to help raise the standards of the trainers in ENY, and helps parents know that the development of their child is in the hands of someone with some basic qualifications AT LEAST ON GAME DAY.
Unfortunately until every club within the 11 leagues adopts the program internally it does in no way guarantee that all training programs are conducted by qualified people. Without each and every club committing itself to the premise that all players deserve an educated trainer and adopting ENYYSA policy, many companies will simply send their staff with no basic qualifications to the U5, U6, U7 and U8 programs that they run. This policy of hiding underqualified staff in younger programs directly contradicts the advice given by both US Soccer and US Youth Soccer!
“…we must develop a culture and a way of thinking whereby highly skilled and qualified coaches are assigned to coach the younger players.”
- Jeff Tipping, Former NSCAA Director of Coaching
“Sports, when approached in the right way, can be as valuable as academics in the development of a happy child.”
- Dr. Edward M. Hallowell
“I don’t care if players at that age win a game. I want them to learn to love soccer and learn to deal with the round thing…”
- John Hackworth, Philadelphia Union, coach and youth development coordinator (talking about U10)
Perhaps the most crucial ages in developing the fundamental skills of the game and a love for the game is 5-8 year olds. These key years are the ones which set the tone for all to follow. I concur with the sentiment in the quotes above, these are the ages in which we need the most qualified, and gifted coaches, not a set of imposters trying to make thousands of dollars. If every club within the state simply adopts the ENYYSA trainer standard criteria, then these players will at least be afforded the same protection as their older counterparts.
I pray that the day will arrive shortly when our 11 leagues find a way to mandate a minimum standard of coaching for every coach within the state.
I admit to being somewhat ashamed that we are one of the remaining 18 states that have no mandatory requirement. Perhaps as a step towards this day, all clubs can at least impose some minimum standards on the professionals working with our most important age groups.