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Growing the Game

By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Tim_for_WebAssociation

Occasionally in fulfilling my role as Director of Coaching for the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), I am lucky enough to get invited to some very interesting engagements. The night of September 7 in Manhattan was one such event. The US Soccer New York City Development Group hosted a fireside chat with US Soccer Men’s National Team Coach Gregg Berhalter. The event itself was a fundraiser to help gather funds for US Soccer’s coach in the community program. The fact that the whole event was designed to support coaching education was incentive enough for me to want to go and that fact that ENYYSA were kind enough to get me a ticket sealed the deal.

The evening itself obviously had some interesting footnotes. The 2022 World Cup is only 70 days away and, in my house along with many others, excitement is growing. The World Cup will be another great opportunity to grow the game. A golden opportunity for hundreds of thousands of teams to arrange viewing parties that can both help their players develop a better understanding of the game and provide an opportunity for more people to fall in love with the world's game. The US Soccer coach in the community program is a great program designed to offer a glimpse of coaching education into places that are yet to start formal clubs. 

Gregg Berhalter dealt with the questions surrounding the World Cup, the team expectations and potential along with selection conundrums well, with honesty and well-thought out reasoning as his foundation. The highlight of his comments, at least for me, was his promotion of Coaching Education. He talked eloquently about how coaches had impacted his coaching trajectory. He talked passionately about his US Soccer Pro License when many MLS coaches came together for the first pro license and the impact the course had. When 71 days before the World Cup, the men’s head coach takes time to highlight the importance of every coach making efforts to improve it is a good day for coaching education.

For years, I have been promoting the fact that we must make efforts to professionalize coaching. With this I mean that every kid deserves to have a coach who cares deeply about his craft and has appropriate licensing that shows they have bothered to at least learn something about the game and how to teach it. I absolutely believe that those that get paid to teach the game should be held to a higher professional standard than parent coaches. That they should constantly be trying to improve their craft and progress through appropriate coaching education programs. I believe US Soccer with its recent changes to the coaching education pathway have started the ball rolling. The days of coaching instructors (educators is the new term) being selected to teach because of  someone they knew or the fact they excelled on one course is no longer enough.

Now to become a course educator a coach must attend a formal 3-pronged training program:

• A base course designed to deal with many of the fundamental skills a coaching educator should know

• A content-specific course where they spend time learning about the specifics of the course they teach

• A course apprentice experience where they show they can meet the standards required to teach

The CED (Coaching Educator Developers) who lead these courses are required to attend constant professional development to continue their own journey in learning about teaching the game.  I consider all these evolutions essential in growing and improving the game. I still harbor a hope that someone will create a soccer coaches union, a group that will help provide coaches with much need benefits, health insurance being the obvious one BUT one that will also help secure some identity of professional standards for the hundreds of thousands of trainers making a living via the game. It is noteworthy that the USA  is the only major country yet to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and remains an outlier in that respect. Perhaps the more we all work to protect the sporting rights of our kids, the more we will consider the fact that all teach the game should also be growing in the game. 

With approximately 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and 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 10 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA 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 Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer. For more information, please log on to