By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Education, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
Over the last 20 years, I have sat in meeting after meeting with club boards, league boards, state boards and representatives from major national bodies and listened to all sides of this discussion. I have listened to arguments based on fear, based on hope and, of course, ones based on the statistics on the number of youth players that leave the game at a very young age. I have been forced to listen to parents who judge success purely on win-loss records tell me that coaching education is worthless and then claim differently when a few results go against them.
To further complicate the discussion, I have listened to discussions on volunteerism and its pitfalls and the counter arguments on the sins of professional trainers. I fully grasp the thought that the debate CAN be a long and drawn out one that is multifaceted. Perhaps it is because of my background in teaching or my love of the game or perhaps it is because when I consider complicated conversations that need an answer, I do my best to simplify it as much as possible to make it clear that I can sift through all the issues quickly.
So, to be clear and transparent the answer is YES undisputedly EVERY KID DESERVES AN EDUCATED COACH. Gone are the days where the initial grass roots courses require volunteer parent/coaches to give up huge amounts of time and money. Introductory licenses and diplomas along with associated lesson plans are now readily available from both US Soccer and United Soccer Coaches. Both sets of courses are low-cost, require minimal time and are user friendly. People argue that volunteer parent/coaches do not have the time or inclination to get educated but I do not buy it or believe it. I also do not agree that being a volunteer comes with no responsibility. Whatever you volunteer for, you agree in a non-contractual way to meet all the demands of whatever the role entails. For youth soccer coaching, this means that every volunteer coach in my opinion agrees to
1. Arm themselves with the basic information required to do the job well.
2. Care about all the players within their charge.
3. Ensure that each kid gets to enjoy practices and games.
4. Be prepared to evolve with their players or pass them onto a more appropiate enviroment if they feel they can no longer develop the player.
It is my hope that all clubs and leagues take notice of the accessibility of grass roots education courses and as part of their club vision, club charter or core value document, place as number one the following:
XYZ Soccer Club operates on the core belief that every player within the club has the right to be coached by a coach with some type of formal educational training.