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Great thoughts in Cony’s Down-to-Earth article! Also, I have noticed that soccer countries such as Holland are backing the supervised drop-in sessions for street soccer. No coaching, just playing. As you’ve said for years, Karl, intrinsically motivated players playing independently for the love of the game help players learn to solve their soccer problems and develop skills independently, as we see in the inner city basketball community.

Don Williams, Sports Recruiting USA – Head of Operations – The Americas

If we can’t bring the kids to the ‘streets,’ then let’s try to bring the ‘streets’ to the kids. This is where the rest of the world has a different culture than us- they are willing to play ANYWHERE.   Once on a trip to Jamaica in my early 20s, I saw kids playing barefoot, on top of a gravel pit, WITHOUT a soccer ball. I was so inspired.

   Many people in the U.S. are doing a great job of making something out of nothing or re-purposing old unused facilities. We need to keep pushing forward. I ride my bicycle past lighted tennis courts in Chicago that are almost always empty. We need people to recognize these opportunities and make municipalities “unlock the gate.  

We need places where children can play side by side next to adults to create a familial environment. We need to help inspire children to be lifelong participants. 

Zac Crawford, Technical Development Manager at U.S. Soccer Federation

Some excellent points in Cony’s article, as we’ve all experienced the frustration of field limitations. I had the privilege of playing in Denmark with Cony Konstin. It was a surprise for us young American players to see so many dirt fields to play on. It could be challenging to enjoy the game if young soccer players’ only opportunities to play are at structured practices where their natural inclination to express themselves is often suppressed.

Kids need more opportunities to PLAY and be KIDS instead of coming to a training pitch to stand in line, run laps, or listen to lectures. It’s just a part of a movement that I believe that we ALL need to do to keep fighting for children’s rights.

If players have places to play, it’s much easier to get out and have fun with the sport and, ideally, grow their love of the game. As the street soccer community knows, street soccer is an incredible opportunity to learn advanced ball control skills and express oneself.

More places to play with fewer restrictions + better understanding of the fun challenges that advanced ball control skills provide = a deeper love and appreciation of the game.

Louie Mata, Founder, Soccer in Slow Motion

Cony is not wrong, and I grew up in a similar environment, but more of a “good old days” statement. Parents now ask what fields or complexes will the kids be playing on. Do you try to convince them that playing on a dirt field will improve their child?

We know that today’s parents will pick the professional complex – because we all know their kids need the best conditions possible to become the next World Cup star.

A flat field is all that is needed – dirt or otherwise – clumpy grass fields are demoralizing. If in an “iffy” climate that periodically brings lots of rain – you get cancellations as well on a dirt field – that’s frustrating; in the U.S., most teams cancel when it rains, so training time is lost once more.

Solution? Artificial turf? And around we go – LOL.

Tony Kuster, Head Coach for Scott Gallagher Bayern & Dortmund

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Don Williams

Don Williams is a veteran college coach whose coaching career spans 30 years. He coached at virtually every level in the United States, including a pro stint in the USL, the NCAA, NAIA, and at the Junior College level. Most recently, he coached the men and women at Feather River Junior College in California, where he was able to transfer 92 players for $4,375,000 in scholarships having his players recruited by many distinguished schools such as Penn State, UMass, Florida State, UCLA, Lipscomb, New Mexico State, North Carolina, University of Washington and many more. Before coaching at Feather River, Don spent 12 years coaching at California State University at East Bay. Don has also been the men’s head coach at Ohlone College and the goalkeeper coach for the Bay Area Seals of the USL. There he coached such notables as Jon Conway, who went on to play for the NY Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, and Toronto FC of the MLS. Don also served as the inaugural Director of Coaching for the Northern Nevada State Olympic Development program, where he helped 67 players get invited to the US Regional Event. Don is Head of Operations with Sports Recruiting USA for The Americas, the most successful and connected college placement agency in the world. He has earned his "A" License from the United States Soccer Federation.