By Ken Gulmi, Eastern New York Hall of Famer
This article appeared recently in community newsppaers throughout Westchester and Putnam counties
September 14, 2022-Through the 1980’s, children mostly played sports for their own community-based teams and “professional” for-pay trainers were usually only found working in unaffiliated camps. Since then, however, the landscape has evolved and not always in the best interests of its youth athletes.
Currently, virtually every youth sport features paid coaches and/or trainers, usually charging substantial fees. Certainly, in some cases, these “professional” sports educators are well-qualified and have worked diligently to acquire the skills and credentials (licenses) necessary to give youngsters a solid foundation in which to optimize their athletic abilities.
Unfortunately, there are also many others who present themselves as having the expertise and education to serve as qualified to instruct youngsters without the credentials that entitle them to make that claim. How then can parents insure that they are actually spending large sums on their child's behalf and choosing the best person for his or her development?
Before committing their child to an “elite” team, or program and instructional staff, parents can insure they are doing everything to insure they are making the best possible choice as to whom to entrust with their son or daughter. Here are several steps that will assist them in accomplishing that goal:
1. Be realistic about both your child's desire and ability to make a strong commitment to develop in their sport. It's about what the player wants, not about what the parent wants for them. Be sure they understand and are enthusiastic about the amount of work for which they are signing up.
2. Has the instructor provided you with his/her resume of experiences. If so, check the references. If not, why not? This cannot be optional.
3. What license does he/she possess? If the sport offers ascending levels of licensing (for example, soccer), is it sufficient for your child's level? A license demonstrates their willingness to develop themselves as educators.
4. Has the instructor passed a background check? This is mandatory in many sports to weed out those with criminal backgrounds, alcohol/drug backgrounds and child predators. Never accept anyone who hasn't.
5. Has the instructor been certified CPR training and Concussion protocol? This too should not be optional.
Legitimate professionals will have no problem meeting these demands from a parent. Self-proclaimed experts with no real qualifications will dismiss their importance or offer excuses for why they cannot.
In short, do not be lured by anyone just because they are offering to make your child the next superstar in their sport. The real qualified instructors usually won't while the posers are really just eyeballing the balance in your bank account.
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 http://www.enysoccer.com/