Explore interesting and thought-provoking viewpoints from four experienced youth coaches dedicated to developing ALL players’ potential who responded to my article ‘World Cup Takes Backseat!‘
A Call for Clarity and Understanding
This was an excellent read, and the points raised are extremely important. I fear that the system and processes we have currently have taken root and are reaching the point where they are beyond questioning. There are a lot of contributing factors, not by design, but just lacking a clear vision and long-term understanding of what we should be taking into consideration. There is a complete misunderstanding of how competitive and recreational options work, but worse, we cannot even describe them with any degree of consensus. I want to throw a few things into the discussion.
1 – Do we understand how our decisions impact children physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, etc.?
2- Do we understand the long-term impacts and consequences of the actions and decisions we make today?
3 – Do we understand that “sport” is an all-encompassing word that is too large to incorporate all aspects it supposedly represents?
4 – Even recreational play has been scooped up into this juggernaut. We now assume that the only form of sport must be adult controlled and have a “pyramid of play” as operational guidelines.
A pyramid, by its structure, has a built-in attrition design. Everything is built from the top down. –
Striving for Holistic Development:
You’re not wrong. Placing labels on players and coaches holds some back from trying to play or coach at a higher level. Yes, you want your best coaches coaching at higher levels.
Players, on the other hand, should be taught to be “Total” soccer players. By that, I mean teach all players HOW to play by giving them the knowledge of how to defend and attack, and they should be able to play anywhere on the field. I’ve seen the difference in improvement in all my players as opposed to those that have been square holed into playing only a certain position. –
Balancing Competition and Recreation
Your article is great. The problem existing currently in the soccer world is the competition for players between the major soccer organizations. As it has existed for years, the theme is the push for competitive games/players. This has resulted in the piecemeal destruction of the recreational players’ advanced playing opportunities.
The spotlight on competitive players is purely based on marketing behavior, pushing high-level competition as being ‘that’s where the action is.’
The aspect of the ‘best,’ ‘winning,’ and being in the ‘spotlight’ is where the focus is. This appeals to many parents/players for the aspect of developing ‘superstars,’ gaining scholarships, and prospective careers in soccer.
The focus has come off the ‘FUN’ aspect of playing soccer and been redirected to ‘Win Baby Win’ in the competitive atmosphere for player attraction purposes.
Those who consider themselves ‘recreation minded’ need to look in the mirror and ask themselves what they have recently done to help advance the aspect of recreational play.
Divisiveness and Confusion
Creating recreation and competitive labels has created something other than divisiveness and confusion, especially with state associations.
I’ve seen the labeling used so players don’t have to make practice and game commitments because it’s only recreational – thus, it’s not a commitment to play. Then why do it?
Then you have the double rostering of players allowed in many leagues – how does that work with the coach trying to keep a team organized?
State association finances get hit with – “What about the poor kids playing recreational – what services do they get?”
I guess the mission has to be clear – why take piano lessons, guitar lessons, computer classes, etc. – To get better, I would assume 😊
Why would that mentality be any different with soccer? –
Embracing Change for a Stronger Soccer Future
“Thank You” Al Inns, Bill Howe, Jack Smith, and Tony Kuster, your voices remind us of soccer’s complex journey. In a world where labels shape young players’ paths, it’s time to reconsider our approach. The impact of ‘competitive’ and ‘recreational’ labels goes beyond the field. We must strike a balance between overall growth and inclusivity, preserving the essence of enjoyment. By reshaping our vision (together), we can create an environment where every child’s potential flourishes.
. – Koach Karl