By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
I think I understand the many influences and issues in youth sports better than most. I should. I spend every working moment and beyond immersed in youth sports. My role is not restricted to one specific area; rather it is one where I have to be actively engaged with players, coaches, parents, clubs and league directors. I'm lucky to add this group by having acquaintances with national and indeed international administrators and influencers in the game.
I say lucky because I've always viewed myself as a teacher, soccer is simply the classroom that I get to practice and perfect my craft in. My passion for the “classroom” is in no doubt driven by my personal experience. I was a troubled kid and teenager, full of self-doubt, insecurity, nerves (displayed with a horrible stutter) and confusion over the world and my place within it.
A soccer team came to my rescue! It gave me a place to belong where others valued my desire to try as hard as I possibly could no matter the score. I reflect now on the things my youth team gave me and the things the experience taught me-