By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
I was somewhat amazed at the National Convention held last January when Sam Snow, the Technical Director for US Youth Soccer, explained to the 55 Directors of Coaching from across the country that only a total of 6% of the youth of America currently play soccer. It struck me that if all the coaches and trainers involved in the game spent as much time promoting its merits as they do fighting over players for teams, then 6% could easily be 12% and then 18% and so on. The problem is that far too many people involved in the game who claim to have its best interests at heart do nothing at all to promote it or even treat those within it in a manner which may mean that any future kids they have may wish to one day play the beautiful game.
I have been delighted that World Cup seems to have truly caught the imagination of all generations of Americans. The atmosphere in hundreds of local bars and restaurants as our US Men’s National Team fought through to the playoff rounds was really tremendous and great to see. This enthusiasm for the game gives all within it another opportunity to grow the game, to talk loudly and intelligently about the world's game and that many benefits it has for youth players. It’s time that we paid it forward!
Soccer is the world’s game for the following reasons:
1. At the most basic level it is easy for all to play, kicking a spherical object ( sometimes an orange, tennis ball etc.) is easy for all to do
2. You do not need lots of equipment (helmets, sticks, skates etc.) to join in the FUN.
3. Any space that is relatively flat is good for a game ( often not grass in parts of the world)
4. Because of 1, 2 and 3 above it is cheap and not just for the wealthy.
5. The fitness piece in both the aerobic and anaerobic areas is tremendous.
6. You can play with any numbers 1v1, 2v2, 3v2, 3v3 in street soccer around the world any numbers work.
It is the player’s game and should be a safe haven for all parents that wish their children to be involved in a sport where their kids get to think, make decisions and yes mistakes. A game in which they do not simply follow the latest command from a loud coach.
At the foundation of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association's recent trainer pass program was a desire to help grow and protect the game. It seems quite a number of the training organizations within Eastern New York were offended that anyone suggest that those teaching the games to our youth players maintain and acquire a minimum standard of education. I can’t help but think that they really should have had a minimum standard without anyone insisting upon it. Perhaps the first thing any parent searching for a potential training organization should ask is how qualified are the staff (as opposed to how many games did they win?). I am certain the second question should be what do you do to help grow the game?