Youth Soccer Coaching

What style of soccer coaching is best for you and your team?

Youth Coaching Main Graphic

Communication is at the heart of virtually every human endeavour and coaching soccer is no different. In this blog I will focus on what style of coaching will be more appropriate for you and the most effective communication techniques for dealing with the players in the world of youth soccer.

There are many different styles and ways to coach a soccer team and it is imperative that we choose a style that brings harmony and fits with your team’s culture and attitude.


How to tailor your strategy and attitude to get the most out of your unique group of soccer players.


Coaching is a multifaceted ideal… current youth coach training only address the most basic of these areas.

In Canada and in Manitoba, many youth soccer coaches attend initial coach training such as the community coach stream and perhaps later the advanced licensing stream.

For all their value, none of the courses on the community coach stream offer coaches a practical behaviour model for effectively coaching on game day, rather these courses demonstrate how to organize effective training.

Game day coaching behaviour is left to the coach’s imagination. Coaches are left to make up their own style without regard to whether it is effective or not.Coaches one

Hopefully the CSA and Jason de Vos will take notice of this oversight and make the adjustments to future courses. Game day coaching behaviour is an important aspect of a coach’s development, especially in the early years.

As well, the term coaching style refers to the overall direction of each session. A coach must determine which type of coaching style best fits them and their players and how they wish to get there.

Understanding the different coaching styles is key, so we can use and combine the most appropriate styles when coaching the youth players.

Remember even youth soccer teams adjust to the personality of the coach’s style. Continue reading

Together Everyone Achieves More

Corporate table with playersWhen Everyone Has A Seat At The Table, We All Win

Saskatchewan Soccer Association (SSA) broke new ground on Saturday when its membership moved to approve acceptance of private soccer academies as full, regular members of the Association, alongside traditional youth soccer clubs and associations. The SSA is the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally recognize private soccer institutions in this way….

“This is a truly pioneering decision that embraces the key stakeholders who develop our young soccer players,” said [Jason] de Vos. “It is encouraging to see soccer clubs and academies acknowledging that they are all in the same business of developing players. Our sport is about teamwork, and our clubs and academies in Saskatchewan are truly playing like a team.” 

Canadian Soccer Association, March 20, 2017


The decision of the Saskatchewan Soccer Association to treat private academies and traditional clubs and associations equally is truly a landmark decision. All stakeholders involved should be tremendously proud of themselves for the achievement of putting self-interests aside and collaborating for the betterment of the game and its players.

academies-equal.PNG


A Rocky Relationship

There has existed a long and acrimonious relationship between private academies and traditional community based soccer clubs and associations. A relationship based on fear, mistrust, hostility, paranoia and protectionism.

Private academies, generally for-profit, exist and are setup to be controlled by a single ownership entity. Thus owners could be an individual or a group of professionals as is often the case with many academies. Governance structure is decided upon and staffed by the owner(s) who employee them to serve the best interest of the academy. Membership in an academy is selective and is based on the academies interests and ability to provide services. Quality academies will effectively develop complete players in the globally accepted Four Corner Model for youth development (social, psychological, physical and technical/tactical). Thus players developed through academies tend to achieve gains much closer to their potential and often progress to higher levels of the game then those developed exclusively in the community club model.

Traditional community based soccer clubs and associations, hereafter referred to simply as clubs, generally holding a NPO designation, were originally designed to be community volunteer driven and operate for the greater good of the community to help with its youth sporting needs. As such, clubs are not allowed to be selective in its membership and must provide some form of programming to all interested community members. Relying entirely on volunteer coaches with varying degrees of coaching experience and understanding of the game, player development results over the past several decades have been very poor. This shortcoming stems from ineffectively training complete athletes in accordance with the Four Corner Model of player development. The club model satisfies the physical and social corners of the model fairly well as these tend to develop organically however it is the technical/tactical and psychological corners that really require a qualified coach to help develop players to their potential.

While clubs enjoy the many benefits of Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and Provincial Member Association sanctioning their private counterparts generally do not. On the flip side, while clubs are required to provide services to all, often within a specified geographic area, private academies enjoy the freedom of selectivity of its membership without boundaries.

While both sides bicker and argue over who is affected most adversely by their co-existence, the lack of effort to resolve these issues has harmed no one more than the PLAYERS!


Evolution of the Traditional Soccer Club

Recognizing our player development failures, the CSA worked very hard over the past decade with its Provincial Member Associations to implement Long Term Player Development (LTPD), a national program that represents a paradigm shift in the way youth soccer in Canada is delivered.

At its core are the following principles:

  1. Emphasis on technical skill development through the use of Small-Sided Games (SSG) and appropriately sized pitches and goals
  2. The de-emphasis on winning with the removal of league standings below U13
  3. Better coach education with the goal of increasing our qualified pool of coaches

This later morphed into the initial stage of the Canada Soccer Pathway which acts as a roadmap to guide players of all ages and skills through the soccer system and on to a life-long enjoyment of the game.

Another major initiative the CSA is in the process of rolling out is the Club Charter “Starting Eleven” program which seeks incentives for clubs to implement.

  1. Player development programming
  2. Coaching development programming
  3. Governance and administrative guidelines for Board members and support personnel

Of its eleven specified criteria some of the most significant impacts to clubs include requirements for a certified club head coach and a recognized professional administrator (both paid positions) as well as standard equipment requirements and the adoption of best communication practices which includes the maintenance of a website.

While bringing traditional youth clubs more closely in alignment with the standards of professionally run private academies, these changes represent significant new expenses to their operation. Expenses compounded by the much larger size of clubs relative to private academies as a result of their requirement to service the community and generally lacking selectiveness in its membership. These expenses get passed on to the players and their families and it is now common for club soccer to be more expensive than attending a private academy. Soccer registration fees over the past decade have soared, doubling even tripling over that time! Once considered a cheap means of summer exercise, soccer is quickly becoming a sport for the wealthy with far too many families no longer able to afford their children’s participation at a level commensurate with their skills and ambitions.


New Goals, New Initiatives & New Partnerships

sihouette two

The CSA has very clearly signalled its desire and intention to move the game of soccer in Canada from its traditional recreational status to one in which we want and expect to be competitive on the international stage in the future.

To accomplish this goal, serious changes were and remain necessary. It began with new initiatives like the LTPD player and coach development and the Club Charter programs aimed at moving the game from a recreational mindset to a more formal and structured environment for learning and development. Moving forward there is much to be done. While theoretically the CSA’s player pathway for competitive and Excel/Elite players has potential, it is largely dependent on High Performance youth leagues and Pro Club academies that don’t yet exist, particularly outside of the big three MLS centres of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Take for instance a smaller province like Manitoba that does not have a High Performance Youth league or a professional club with an academy, all of the Talent Identification and High Performance training is performed at the Manitoba Regional Excel Centre that is run by the Provincial Association and a seemingly arm’s length partnership with a professional club; in Manitoba’s case, the Vancouver Whitecaps. With limited staff and resources the number of players they can accept into their Regional Excel Centre is far less than the available talent that warrants the opportunity to be developed.

As a nation, our high-performance training has primarily been the responsibility of our governing bodies – the CSA and provincial associations. The problem with this approach – one that is not taken by any successful football nation – is that it affects far too few players. The end result is an extremely shallow pool of talented players from which to select our national teams. While the training and development for the select few in these programs might be sufficient, the size and scale of the program is not…. We cannot rely solely on the three MLS club academies to develop young players; we need 30 such academies, not three” – Jason de Vos, June 1, 2013

There is a new first division professional Canadian soccer league in the works expected to launch potentially as early as 2018. This will be huge as each professional club in Canada is mandated to operate a youth academy thus providing more opportunity to our youth to develop in some of the best training environments available in this country. It will also open up more realistic pathways for players to follow. Under the current system almost all of Western Canada’s youth are funneled toward the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy, in Ontario to the Toronto FC Academy and out east to the Montreal Impact Academy; yet less than 1 in 10,000 of these players will ever see the first team bench let alone game minutes! A new Canadian league will provide more academies, more elite training opportunities and more professional development with real game minutes.
With the CSA’s much welcomed new found ambition comes the necessity for these new initiatives but equally as important – new Partnerships to achieve them! We’ve seen the evolution of the objectives for the sport and we’ve seen the evolution of the structure and role of Traditional Soccer Clubs, now it’s time to take the final step and evolve our relationships and partnerships between the private and public service providers of soccer in this country. Like Jason de Vos has stated and the Saskatchewan Soccer Association has demonstrated, now is the time for us all to do our part for the betterment of the game and the achievement of our shared goals. We need everyone to be on the same page and realize that We All Play For Canada!


Together Everyone Achieves More

Team graphic.png

While the Canada Soccer Pathway is largely in place in the three big provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, it has holes like a swiss cheese throughout the rest of the country – namely in the lack of High Performance (HP) Leagues. It is not possible to have a truly HP league without including private academies many of which include the best local talent, highest licensed coaches and trainers and highest operational and training standards. To fill in these holes across the country, it will require TEAM work, from groups of people with various complementary skills, working together towards a common soccer vision. Team members must operate with a high degree of trust, accountability and interdependence.

Like in other areas of life, more competition requires that we raise our standards to attract the best. To meet the standards and be competitive, clubs and academies would want to hire, train and retrain the best coaches available, and to retain the best players, provide the best environments operationally and training-wise. Competition reduces complacency. As a result the entire soccer community elevates its game, but only by working together to create that environment.

About 4 years ago, Rob Gale, former Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA) technical director being a forward thinker,tried to bridge the divide within the community and introduce academy clubs to Manitoba similar to what the Saskatchewan Soccer Association board approved last week. In the eleventh hour, fear and mistrust won out and the program fell through. In the interim, while other components of the CSA Pathway have been successfully implemented, we are, as most of the rest of the country is still, lacking in a fundamental step in that pathway. Had the program implementation been successful, Manitoba could have been the leader and envy among soccer jurisdictions in Canada.

In Manitoba, it is critical that we don’t fall behind all the other provinces and we have to put structures in place to identify the best players and develop them in professional environments which in the past where only accessible through the provincial programs. We must continue to raise the level of the game in Manitoba so we can continue to send players to play professionally or in the Canada National youth teams. That means we must be willing to not just include academies in the Manitoba pathway but welcome their commitment to the development of both players and coaches to the highest standards.

Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Soccer Association for leading the way!

Please follow  the link below for a better understanding of my view of soccer development in Manitoba and Canada

https://wsawinnipeg.wordpress.com/category/soccer-development/

Governance of Soccer in Manitoba

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The Old Ways Must Change (Part Two)

Youth soccer in this city is suffering at the hands of what else… Politics!

Societal events tell the story of a political climate. The way people behave indicates their feelings, mood or comfort-level in an organization or community. The current soccer climate in Manitoba can’t be better stated than by Oui Truong, former Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association president.

“It has become very clear to me in the time that I have been with WYSA that the environment in our soccer community is toxic and not conducive to progress and collaboration, egos, grudges, hostility, stubbornness, and paranoia run rampant, and every action or decision is met with these barriers to success…”

In this political climate one of the biggest obstacles to progress locally is the failure to integrate the public club model with private clubs or private acdemies into a system where they can coexist. The “experts” will tell you that the district run soccer clubs are superior to private academies or private clubs in that they have the athlete’s best interests in mind since they offer services for the betterment of the athlete. “They” will tell you the private clubs and private academies over-train players in order to make money. This logic is simply loaded with inconsistencies.

The Breakdown

It has been my experience that all district soccer clubs offer extra training in their own “academy”, often the fees for which are in addition to club registration. What if, I want my child to receive some extra training from someone who has come highly recommended by a friend or colleague? It has come to my attention repeatedly this is highly frowned upon by the majority of the districts and the argument they will give you is this alleged “fear of overtraining”. Yet, it would be OK for them to over train my kid in their program? Seems hypocritical and downright dishonest to me. What difference does it make where I seek out extra training if I’m the consumer? I want to purchase the best product! If the district offered the best training perhaps I would choose the district. Sounds like they may be more concerned with lost revenue then the well-being of my child. I should be allowed to choose though, without penalty. Being a former club head coach and a parent, I have come to understand that if one wants their child to get noticed as an “up and comer” they better enroll them in some extra training offered by the district club and have them play for the district team in their neighborhood. Only then will they get noticed by provincial level coaches from the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA) and National level coaches from the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA). Since when is competition not welcomed in a free, democratic society? It encourages accountability for service providers. Again, EVERY group needs to be accountable for what they are offering and I as the consumer have the right to choose the best product available. The notion that “because I live here, I must train and play exclusively for this district club” is anything but accountable.

Finally and perhaps the most confusing issue of all is the MSA’s decision to take the National Development Center (NDC) program in a new direction. Before the changes were made, it was decided this program must use the highest licensed and most experienced coaches possible; regardless if they came from a district club or private enterprise. Now, two years later, the program is staffed with unqualified or inexperienced coaches from the district clubs ONLY!!! The female stream of the program is called REX and has a mandate to advance girls through to the National Team; however, the two primary coaches that actually do most of the training don’t even have Canadian B-National Licences and they have very little experience. Which way do you think works better? The best way to find out would be to look at the number of players that progressed to national youth teams when we used the coaches with lots of coaching experience and with the highest level of coaching available in Manitoba – now compare that to the new model of the last 3 years. Kind of proves my point!

The point is this, the MSA and CSA mandates should be to hire the best coaches (experience+licences) and identify the best player talent regardless if they come from a private academy club or a public district club.

In Part 1 of this discussion on Governance, we established that the CSA has admitted in their own governance model that they defer to the provincial associations. So it becomes all the more important to have good leadership at our provincial levels. I will continue with the idea that MSA and WYSA needs to govern and not to become a club by creating soccer teams. The CSA moved away from the provincial programs , the NTC programs etc., and have ask the private clubs Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, FC Edmonton, Vancouver Whitecaps, Calgary Foothills, Ottawa Fury…to manage high performance instead. MSA and WYSA should follow suit, not do the opposite and start their own soccer programs.

To Sum Up

The question remains…is anybody at the CSA or MSA listening? As a coach over the past 25+ years I have come to conclude that the Manitoba community based soccer system needs help. There is little regard for the customers (parents & players). A monopoly simply has no incentive to pay any regard to those who pay the bills when they are the only game in town. There is little in the way of oversight regarding government funds being utilized to pay very large salaries to one or two individuals per club, regardless of results.

The MSA needs to open up the competition. We need to use the most experienced and qualified coaches in the province and country, we must include them not exclude them because somehow the people in charge feel threatened by them and their knowledge. How can a province like Manitoba and a country like Canada for that matter afford to keep the private clubs and experienced Canadian A-licence coaches out and not get them involved? Somebody please explain to me the rationale behind that? The only one I can think of was best said by Oai Truong, former President of WYSA, in his resignation letter:

“That the environment in our soccer community is toxic and not conducive to progress and collaboration. Egos, grudges, hostility, stubbornness, and paranoia run rampant, and every action or decision is met with these barriers to success”

What is Meant by “Old Ways”?

First and foremost we need to move away from decision making based on personal agendas within associations and clubs. Remove the leaders of these organizations with agendas aimed at protecting their own spheres of influence. Move away from this mentality and these people who are detrimental to players and the game of soccer, move to a more supportive soccer system. A system where the athlete and the game are put above those of the chosen few presidents, board members or executive directors.

The MSA and WYSA simply need to govern the game, nothing more!

Our Soccer Governance Needs to Change.

All players in Manitoba, as well as Canada, should be allowed, even encouraged, to play as much or as little as they like. The elite player along with the grassroots player should be embraced with the same enthusiasm, each player should have their specific needs fulfilled. In this way the game of soccer is strengthened.

Under the present soccer system in Manitoba, there are countless examples where elite players are not allowed to return to their appropriate soccer leagues once they are finished with their elite level commitments. Meaning they want to play, but are disallowed! Who benefits? Not the athlete. Neither the league nor the teams within those leagues.

Players from Winnipeg’s PDL team are a perfect example of this foolishness. Arguably among the best players at their age, PDL players are not allowed to return to their appropriate leagues, men’s or youth leagues, once their very short PDL season is finished. This means that some of the best players in Manitoba must sit idle, waiting for these leagues to finish their seasons before joining a team. Players like Moses Danto who has just signed a contract to play professional soccer, could not find a team to play on in Manitoba once his PDL season had finished.

Absolute madness… an amateur star player is denied the opportunity to play soccer in his home town! Further, the fans of soccer in Manitoba are denied the opportunity to watch a star player. An amateur player that all Manitobans should be proud of playing the beautiful game. Sometimes the youth and the adult teams are playing short as they don’t have enough players and what do we do? We restrict amateurs and youth players from playing. Again, who benefits from this? Or rather who does not benefit? The answer is our sport does not benefit. Our youth have a tremendous number of options, sports and otherwise, competing for their time and energy. If the players do not feel they are being embraced by the beautiful game of soccer… they move on to something else.

The “old ways” must change. The petty self-interests, bickering, grudges and distrust that former WYSA president Oui Truong referred to must be eliminated. If Canadian soccer is to evolve and advance on the world stage and if we hope to improve our participation rates… look after our athletes… change our soccer governance and change our old ways of doing things!

Social Change Movement

The main theme of this blog has been to provoke discussion and hopefully generate change in the way our province and indeed our country do things with regards to the game of soccer. Social change initiatives may serve as a barometer of political climate or even shape it.Public sentiment about an issue can be a deciding factor in the importance of the issue. Mr. Truong’s comments, about the political climate and the need for change may alter the present course by instilling new public expectations or garnering mass support.

“It has become very clear to me in the time that I have been with WYSA that the environment in our soccer community is toxic and not conducive to progress and collaboration. Egos, grudges, hostility, stubbornness, and paranoia run rampant, and every action or decision is met with these barriers to success…”

THAT REALLY SUMS IT UP!!!

Solution

We need to move away from the old ways of doing things. There needs to be a new Canadian and Provincial governance system that works and not one that pretends it works! Everybody is moving in separate directions when they ought to be moving in a single unified direction under strong centralized leadership. Only once this happens will we have a shot at joining the ranks of of true footballing nations, but it requires true intelligent leadership.

The true leader serves people. Serves their best interests, and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the
price.

“As Mr.Truong before me I leave you with the message below and I hope you all will carry with you as I have”

LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT and
PARTNERSHIP.

WITHOUT INTEGRITY DEPENDABILITY AND
PERSEVERANCE NOTHING WORKS!

The Need for New Governance

Part One of Two

Part Two: Manitoba Governance will be posted in two weeks.

imageIn our sixth in a series of 7 discussions on opportunities for soccer development in Manitoba and Canada, we will look at the need for new Canadian Governance.
There continues to be a number of major problems confronting soccer in Canada. Governance of our local and regional soccer bodies is one of them. Good governance is necessary, but it alone, will not solve the major problems confronting soccer. Effective governance removes barriers, gives permissions, sets directions, and better allocates resources to enables change. It alone does not solve all the developmental soccer problems, but strong governance creates the framework under which problems become solvable.

“Development” is the key word in Canadian soccer; it is a clever word the “brass” use in order buys time. There are self-serving personal agendas blocking advancement at various levels. Jason Devos (TSN commentator, former professional and National team player) put it best when he said:

“At the provincial and district levels the game is still facing the same parochial challenges that have restricted soccer development for decades. Provincial boards of directors are largely comprised of district presidents, who are elected by their member clubs. Those district presidents are faced with an inherent conflict of loyalty. Do they do what is in the best interests of the game at the provincial (and by extension, the national) level, or do they do what is in the best interests of the clubs in their own district? Far too often, district loyalties trump the greater good. The result is a fractured, broken governance structure, where change rarely takes place – and when it does, it happens at a glacial pace.”

image.pngCSA and Regional Leadership

Good sporting governance begins with strong leadership from the top down. Titles are important, no doubt about that, but they don’t necessarily equate to being an effective leader. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. Leadership is not primarily a formal position. Being a leader in a mass of people is more than just having the name “captain “or “technical director”. In fact, you can be a leader in your family, in your neighborhood, or in your society, all without having a title. It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position. However, because of the inability of some appointed, awarded or assigned leaders to lead, problems ensue.

A leader infuses a sense of positivity and directs others to reach the specified goal. Leadership therefore is ‘that process” in which an individual influences an organized group (followers) to attain a common goal. The ends of leadership involve getting results through others, and the means of leadership involve the ability to build cohesive, goal-oriented teams. Knowledge is power and naturally, those who believe power is the essence of leadership will assume that those who possess more knowledge will make good leaders. Yes, a knowledgeable leader who understands what drives the bottom line is valuable, but the leader who gets others to perform their best that ultimately creates a winning team. Good leaders are therefore those who build teams to get results across a variety of situations.


Hockey’s Canada

Mission Statement
“Lead, Develop, and Promote Positive Hockey Experiences.”

Vision
“World Sports Leaders”


Tennis Canada

Mission Statement
“To lead the growth of tennis in Canada.”

Vision
“To become a world-leading tennis nation.”


Canada Basketball

Mission Statement
“We aspire to excellence in leading the growth and development of the game at home, and in pursuing medal performances on the international stage. “

Vision
“Recognized as a world leader in all aspects of basketball, and consistently reaching the podium in FIBA competitions and the Olympic Games.”


Canada Soccer

Mission Statement
“To provide leadership in the pursuit of excellence in soccer, nationally and internationally, in cooperation with its members and partners.”

Vision
“Leading Canada to victory and Canadians to a life-long passion for soccer.”


In reading these mission and vision statements we see three organizations committed to being leaders and one that wants to be a partner in the governance, growth and development of their respective sport. Thus it should come as little surprise to see that our tennis, basketball and hockey programs have been more successful at producing professional and elite level talent and have been more competitive in international competition then our soccer program. Those willing to bear the burden of leadership and make tough decisions usually reap the greatest reward.

Soccer in Canada is governed and delivered by the provincial member associations in conjunction with their leagues and clubs. Youth soccer across Canada is governed and delivered very differently. This lack of uniformity in structure, governance and direction leads to a disjointed and fragile system. This is evidenced in our lack of professional player development and various national program shortcomings.

On the upside Canada Soccer has made progress in exerting some semblance of governing control over the game in Canada in the past decade – most notably with its nationwide implementation of the Long Term Player Development Program (LTPD). The LTPD represents new guidelines for the development of our youth players between the ages of 9 -12 and the program was met with a great deal of opposition not only from parents and players but also from provincial member associations, their leagues and clubs. Many provincial member associations were late to come on board, only doing so after much persuasion; ten years later the program is now fully integrated across Canada.

Canada Soccer is now woruking on another major nationwide program called the Club Charter. It is a National recognition of Clubs with the assistance of Provincial Associations / Federations to provide an incentive for Clubs to implement the following:

1. Player development programming
2. Coaching development programming
3. Governance and administrative guidelines for Board Members and support personnel

Credit to Canada Soccer as player and coach development programming lie at the heart of the now implemented LTPD program and are moving in a positive direction. But governance and administrative guidelines are sorely lacking and a root cause for the state of our current system. Although the intent of the Club Charter to provide guidance and structure in this important area is admirable, the current “Draft” status of the Club Charter unfortunately misses the mark by a great margin.

First and foremost, the Club Charter is an optional “recognition” of specific standards being met by clubs. This must be a mandatory certification of achievement of high standards in player and coach programming as well as governance for all clubs and academies wishing to receive Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and/or Provincial Member Association sanctioning to compete in sanctioned leagues and competitions.

Secondly, the Club Charter covers a set of 11 criteria, most of which are aesthetic elements required for a club to present a well-groomed, professional image but fails to address any structural guidelines on the governance and operation of clubs and academies. It fails to provide guidance or address important issues like the long-standing for-profit versus not-for-profit sanctioning conundrum, Board of Directors composition, roles, terms of office, league standards, etc.

In a July 2016 interview with CNN, Jurgen Klinsmann talked about the rapid growth of soccer in America while outlining its many challenges ahead…

“The foundation in the United States is still fragile and disconnected compared to other countries,” he said. “The youth leagues do their own thing, the professional system is not really connected to the amateur system, and that’s not really connected to the college system….So there are holes in the system, like in a Swiss cheese, and there’s a loss of quality. We’re working on connecting those pieces, on connecting player development, and on continuing to build a pyramid in this amazing country….Are the coaches properly trained and educated? Yes, the game is growing, millions of kids are playing it, but I sometimes fear a lot of that doesn’t make it through the channels of communication, or it gets lost in things like the pay-per-play model in the youth sector….There are so many things that aren’t yet connected the way they should be connected. America is such a huge, fascinating place. I think it’s going to take years to get it all right….We don’t have a system in place like France or Germany or even South American countries. If you look at the FA in England, it’s more than 100 years old and they already have their infrastructure, scouting, coaches’ education, national training center, and the pyramid is connected. There’s relatively little infrastructure work to do in England because it’s all there.”

To summarize, everybody is moving in separate directions when they ought to be moving in a single unified direction under strong centralized leadership. Only once this happens will countries like the USA and Canada have a shot of joining the ranks of true footballing nations. But it requires true intelligent leadership.

WSA Winnipeg Endnotes

Congratulations to Jason DeVos on being named Canada Soccer’s director of development. In the newly created role, he will be responsible for the overall management, direction and development of coaching and grassroots development programs across Canada.

The need to play soccer the Canadian Way!

 

Soccer Flag“How should Canadians play soccer” 

In our fifth in a series of 7 discussions on opportunities for soccer development in Manitoba and Canada, we will look at the need to have a Canadian style of play.

At the International level, the best football countries in the world have always possessed a unique ability to mould the style of soccer they play based on their country’s image and strengths. A country’s soccer fingerprint, soccer DNA, which is intimately associated with the country’s core values. A country’s soccer DNA drives the behaviours and performance of the players and leaves a clearly defined legacy.

From Brazil to Spain, from Argentina to Holland, from Italy to Germany, from Cameroon to France, or Spain or Romania: over the course of history, the greatest countries tend to wield such influence that they are able to shape the entire organization into a reflection of their country, values and vision. Considering that we need to ask ourselves, “How should Canadians play soccer?” or in other words, “What should be our Canadian way to play soccer?”

Before we answer that, first we need to find out what are the Canadian values as a society with regards to sports. Every society has values that are important to it and that set it apart from other societies. This statement holds true for the Canadian society. There are values that are important to Canadians that are not be fully shared by other societies. Canadians feel that these values are what make Canada an attractive place to live.

Canada has long been recognized for its peace-keeping role around the world. Canadians are seen as polite, sometimes too polite. We often say sorry or excuse me even when other people bump into us. Canadian values include freedom, respect for cultural differences and a commitment to social justice.

The best way to see Canadian values in sports is to take a look at hockey and by looking at that we see that we are:

  • Hard working,
  • Physically fit,
  • Tactically Intelligent,
  • Never give up attitude,
  • Creative,
  • Disciplined.

We need to bring these attributes to soccer. However, is that simple? How do we bring our hockey attributes to the soccer pitch?


What should be our “Canadian style” of soccer? What should be the “Canadian way” to play soccer?

Now that we have responded to what we stand for we need to find a way to incorporate who we are into our Canadian soccer style of play.

This way we implement a vision that matches our Canadian DNA and Canadian core values, in short a vision that suits our nation and our players.

Based on this we need to look at which style of play will suit us best?

A style of play is the way in which the particular system of play chosen by a team is used. Like playing systems, the choice and success of the style of play will depend upon the abilities of each player and the overall qualities of the team.

However, one must not forget other external factors which can play a part in choosing or adapting a particular style. Different teams often have totally contrasting styles, depending upon a country tradition or the personal philosophy of the coach. Examples of the different styles of play seen in soccer are listed below.

ATTACKING STYLE 

  • Direct Play
  • Slow build-up play
  • Counter-attacking play
  • Total Football

DEFENDING STYLE

  • Block defending
  • High pressure play
  • Low pressure play – (Parking the bus)

One could say that at the end of the day it is down to the coach to define the team’s playing style in order to make best use of the abilities and knowledge of the players at his disposal.

Or

We can be revolutionary in our thinking.


Solutions

The Need for a Canadian National Soccer Identity and Revolutionary thinking

As a country, we have to know what we want from our athletes. To have a lifetime of sport and to be healthy, to be athletes in the limits of social life or to be high-performance athletes? Let’s take a look at them one by one.

The sport of “beauty” or “athlete for life” is done without goals. Pleasure must come from participation in training. Let’s face it, in nature we are not all endowed with all the same physical and mental qualities, not everybody is born a predator with a competitive spirit or as strong as some others. Sports halls are filled not only with national champions, but are also filled with people in which satisfaction that comes from participation and camaraderie.

Sport performance (not to say small performance) is the limit in which the athlete can devote themselves to the sport. Some of us do not have the good fortune of having a social situation which allows us to spend our youth in the gym and the soccer field.

We go to work, to school, to kindergarten, and so on. The athlete must be aware that the level at which they enter in competitions is not high and the results will not be as expected.

High-performance sport instead is more demanding. We have to make sacrifices and satisfaction comes only from the results. We cannot resist or exist to long in high performance sport if we don’t have results that please us.

Our goal as a country should be to give athletes the chance to perform at their maximum potential. “Maximum Potential” means that all the four important parameters to be at the highest level.

The four important parameters are: 

  1. technique,
  2. tactics,
  3. physical conditioning,
  4. mental (psychological) conditioning.

In my opinion, the most important parameters are intelligence, character and attitude which are included in the mental (psychological) component.

There is not one without the other and the evolution in a sports contest is a mean between these parameters. Obviously, each parameter has a minimum threshold above which the athlete must pass, and you have to cope with them as soon as possible.

Then you start to work to maximize the capacity within the 4 parameters. If an athlete does not exceed the minimum limit for a parameter, the median for all parameters will tend towards 0. It’s like the multiplying by 0. For example if your technique, tactics and psyche are at level 10 and, if your conditioning fails at 1 minute into the match. The inevitable result will be 0.

CONCLUSION: The level at which an athlete performs in competition is strictly linked to the four parameters: technique, tactics, physical conditioning and psychologically.

EDUARDO’S ADVICE:

  1. Increase the minimum limit in each parameter, and then try to maximize them and customized (parameters) according to the qualities of each player.
  2. Help the player to understand that in order to be a high performance player they need to make sure they perform well in:
  • Possession (when you have the ball)
  • Defending (when you don’t have the ball)
  • Transition from defensive to offensive
  • Transition from offence to defence

The need for a new player development principle of play and curriculum, from 10 years old to international players, that will help us reach our maximum potential as a nation. 

The Beginning – The Canadian Way Video 

The video is an example of how the new “Canadian Philosophy and Player Development Curriculum” should work. A detailed framework, aims, objectives and contents that will be a tremendous value and hopefully help to raise the standards, performance and expectations of the Canadian players from 10 years old to the International senior level. The curriculum should also include approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, quality of relationships between coach and the player and the values embodied by the Canadian Soccer Association, but most importantly to introduce the same or similar philosophies and styles of play across the provinces at all levels .


Final Words

We need a Canadian team that plays “The Canadian Way” with wide-eyed intensity; harrying and chasing in midfield to restrict space and suffocate their opponents’ attacking instincts, a Canadian team that demands assertiveness , determination and commitment from his players, a team packed with fast  players, playing a combative style. A Canadian team that plays compact, ruthless on the counter, but keeping possession if necessary and impossible to break down. The core beliefs should be based on the Canadian values in the strength of the collective, continuous striving for self-improvement, fierce commitment to the cause and approaching the game like there is no tomorrow. We need players that adapt easily to any tactics. Canada needs a collective group of hard working players who always want the best for the team and country, who battles for every ball during every minute of each match with a winning attitude that nobody wants to lose.

We need a Canadian team with a great team spirit, like a family who embraces the multiculturalism that Canada is well known for.

Barcelona remains the ultimate template for long-term team development, but their successful era was achieved thanks to a consistent philosophy over a few decades. In Canada soccer, such long-term thinking is sorely lacking.

What we need in Canada is a template for long term development that includes our Canadian core values and does not change from year to year. We can add the trends in soccer but not change our template .

We do not need to copy the Tiki –Taka method of play, because it does not match our Canadian DNA. We need one that matches how Canadians play. One that matches who we are and what we stand for. One that matches our demographics and then and only then we can say we have a Canadian style of play.

While Canada’s high performance athletes strive for the podium at every opportunity, their world-class performances will instil a sense of pride in our country and the maple leaf from coast to coast to coast.

We need to rethink and rewrite everything from scratch. We should pay attention to developing youth soccer and the academies should receive funding to allow players to play for free. Give the players specialized coaching to develop their skills in a professional environment. The soccer reforms should not just be words on paper but administered to the letter as other countries did it before us and then and only then we will have a Canadian way a Canadian Style of soccer and play in the world cup every 4 years. 


WSA Blog Footnote

WSA is pleased to offer these blogs on topics and issues of interest to our soccer communities.

WSA individually trough Eduardo Badescu and collective knowledge, experience and perspective, locally and internationally, prompts us to offer these thoughts for the consideration of all interested parties.

Our blogs are put forward in the interest of the betterment of soccer, from the local to the national scene. We emphasize that they are offered in the spirit of service to our community at large.

We hope these views will inspire positive and constructive debate amongst all who love our beautiful game ,and should these ideas find resonance within any of the many clubs and associations,

We are eager to be involved in the proceeding developments.

The Need for Soccer Specific Stadiums in Canada

Developmental opportunities

In our fourth article in a series of seven discussions on opportunities for soccer development in Manitoba and Canada, we will look at the need for more Soccer Specific Stadiums including a Canadian National Soccer Centre. As is well-known Canada is a leading sports nation. How sport is practiced in Canada today is influenced by a number of factors, including our four seasons, our geographic and social diversity. For example, lacrosse, our national summer sport, has been played by Aboriginal people for close to a thousand years. Hockey, our national winter sport, was invented in Canada in the 1800s, and basketball was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith in 1891 to condition young athletes during the winter. Today, soccer is the most popular sport among Canadian children. Our sport system allows Canadians from all segments of society to get involved in sport activities at all levels and in all forms of participation. From childhood to adulthood, sport is part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

More and more as the game has developed over the years, so have the training-ground facilities where the players prepare for matches, and play the official games. Whether it is to fine-tune a player’s skills, study the opposition in detail, recover physically from a previous game’s exertions, or receive treatment for an injury, the standard of a club’s training ground is often a reflection of their overall well-being in the game.

We definitely need to build a CANADIAN NATIONAL SOCCER CENTRE (a complex exclusive for soccer) and Provincial Soccer Centres if we want to move in the right direction. It is embarrassing for a wealthy, sporting nation like Canada not to have one already. Our governing offices are in Ottawa while our so call technical facilities are in Toronto. We need a National facility to serve as the home base for Canada Soccer and its national teams.


What Does a Canadian National Soccer Centre Look Like?

It needs to address the key areas of training, recuperation and rehabilitation, media and education support services as well as food and lodging hospitality services.

Ideally the technical training needs would include 6 – 8 official professional outdoor soccer specific pitches, one in synthetic grass, one climate-controlled indoor field, one small-sized outdoor pitch and a futsal court. The actual complex should also contain sports medicine and nutrition labs a media conference room as well as 2-3 classrooms with fully integrated audio, video and network capabilities for player and coach education.

The centre should be used by the Canadian Soccer Federation to prepare for major international tournaments. Currently it is not uncommon for the various national teams to hold training camps in the USA or abroad. This becomes VERY expensive. Transportation of team members, staff and equipment for a camp usually lasting about a week seems like a poor use of funds that could and should be redirected more productively back into our soccer program. A modern, state of the art national training facility gives us the ability to hold these training camps domestically, more often and at a fraction of the cost in an equal if not superior environment.

The centre should also have a media and medical centres, gyms, sauna and steam rooms and a hydrotherapy pool, as well as on-site food and lodging hospitality services. There might be an opportunity for a restaurant and hotel partnership on-site or in very close proximity to the complex. Which leads into the next area for discussion: “Who would be the anchor tenant of such a complex?”


Canadian National Soccer Centre – Home of a National Soccer Academy

A good use for The Canadian National Soccer Centre will be to host a National Canadian Academy.

We need to have a national, year round soccer academy. In order for a player to be selected to the national academy:

  • he/she must be at least 14 years of age,
  • have Canadian citizenship,
  • be living and playing within Canada.

Registration for new players at the academy could begin in October the year before players enrol at the academy when prospective applicants are 13 years old and up. The first set of trials should be carried out on each Province. Each Province selects a set number of players who will travel to Canadian National centre to attend a tryout. After the tryouts, the academy director and officials will convene to select a maximum of 22 players with three or four of the 22 being goalkeepers. Academy ages should be U14, U15 and U16 boys and girls. Players who are selected to attend Canadian National Academy would live in residence and train at the centre during the school year. Youth development at the Canadian National Academy should incorporate many principles on football with their students,

THE CANADIAN STYLE of SOCCER …THE CANADIAN WAY!


The Need for Provincial Soccer Facilities

A smaller scale but similar soccer facility should be established in every province. It may not have to be entirely soccer specific, that is, the complex may be configured for the ability to be multi-sport friendly but the specific needs for a soccer excellence centre must be met. These “child“ facilities would include at least four high quality turf fields, one of which is covered, one natural grass pitch, a small-sided pitch and a futsal court. The centre should be open at least 5 days a week for a minimum of 8 hours per day and have a medical clinic. Perhaps once these goals and aspects are achieved it will be easier to have a Pro league, a U-23 league and Inter provincial youth leagues come to fruition.

Goals of these centres include:

  1. To give local, national and foreign players a place to meet, play and communicate with other players.
  2. To have a place to train your local amateur and/or professional team for international competitions.
  3. To build a better sporting image of the game.
  4. To support clubs and local private academies in developing soccer in their province

This may sound like a huge and financially unfeasible undertaking but the reality is most of the infrastructure already exists in many provinces. Take Manitoba for example, the University of Manitoba already meets just about all the requirements for a provincial soccer center of excellence. It has 2 high quality outdoor turf fields, three when you count Investors Group Stadium, one covered turf field and a natural grass pitch. With a simple addition to the Winnipeg Soccer Federation building, a futsal court, gym and medical services could quickly make the complex a leading provincial soccer complex in Canada.

Indoor Outdoor Facilities

Figure 1: University of Manitoba soccer complex


How Can We Make it Happen?

The Solution

We need a Public-Private Partnership (P3) approach to building and maintenance of sporting infrastructure in Canada. As the single largest investor in Canada’s amateur sport system, the Government of Canada plays an important role in this system. Through Sport Canada, it develops programs and policies to help the sport system meet the needs of Canadians. Provincial and Territorial governments, as well as the private and not-for-profit sectors, also provide programs and funding that support participation and excellence in sport. Thus, a collaborative effort between all three levels of government, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Provincial Member Associations are required to make this happen.

The common thread between the governments, institutions and organizations that are part of our sport system is the Canadian Sport Policy. The current Canadian Sport Policy, effective from 2012 to 2022, sets a direction for all governments, institutions and organizations to make sure sport has a positive impact on the lives of Canadians, our communities and our country.

Through five broad objectives, the Policy aims to increase the number and diversity of Canadians participating in sport:

  • Introduction to sport: Canadians have the fundamental skills, knowledge and attitudes to participate in organized and unorganized sport.
  • Recreational sport: Canadians have the opportunity to participate in sport for fun, health, social interaction and relaxation.
  • Competitive sport: Canadians have the opportunity to systematically improve and measure their performance against others in competition in a safe and ethical manner.
  • High performance sport: Canadians are systematically achieving world-class results at the highest levels of international competition through fair and ethical means.

Sport for development: Sport is used as a tool for social and economic development, and the promotion of positive values at home and abroad


 Final words

Each day we are dreaming about our goals. Each day we are moving forward, step closer to the success. Sometimes we are so focused on our objectives that we don’t have time to think why we desire success.

It’s important that the CSA invests in soccer specific stadiums.

We definitely need to build a CANADIAN NATIONAL SOCCER CENTRE (a complex exclusive for soccer) and Provincial Soccer Centres if we want to move in the right direction. Knowing that there is a purpose, a goal we want to achieve, it stimulates us to act. The more challenging goal, the stronger success feeling is related to it. This way, we can get a better motivation to achieve bigger goals and we get additional stimulus to improve, grow and learn to handle challenging goal. Our governing body needs to understand that this is another necessity if we want to progress and eventually succeed in soccer.

We need a National facility to serve as the home base for Canada Soccer and its national teams.


WSA Blog Footnote

WSA is pleased to offer these blogs on topics and issues of interest to our soccer communities.

WSA individually trough Eduardo Badescu and collective knowledge, experience and perspective, locally and internationally, prompts us to offer these thoughts for the consideration of all interested parties.

Our blogs are put forward in the interest of the betterment of soccer, from the local to the national scene. We emphasize that they are offered in the spirit of service to our community at large.

We hope these views will inspire positive and constructive debate amongst all who love our beautiful game ,and should these ideas find resonance within any of the many clubs and associations,

We are eager to be involved in the proceeding developments.

The Need for more Qualified Soccer Coaches

Opportunities for Development

In our second in a series of 7 discussions on Opportunities for Soccer Development in Manitoba and Canada, we will look at the need for more qualified coaches. In 2014, the Canadian Soccer Association produced a document titled, Leading A Soccer Nation: Canadian Soccer Association Strategic Plan 2014-2018. It outlined four strategic priorities for Canada Soccer in 2014-2018:

  1. INVEST in Technical Leadership by supporting our players, coaches and officials at all levels of the sport.
  2. ENSURE consistent, World-Class performances by our National Teams.
  3. ENCOURAGE the growth of the game in our country.
  4. GOVERN the game in Canada professionally in collaboration with our partners.
Pyramid without descriptions

Pyramid for Coaching Certification

Keeping the four objectives in mind, coaches and coaching education has a big role to play in order to achieve them. Considering this we will look at where we are, and where we need to go! It should be kept in mind these are ideas meant to be a part of the conversation and hopefully some of them implemented, and are not meant to deter or damage the hard work done by the CSA Director of Coaching & Player Development programs. Over the last ten years the Canadian national staffs have dramatically improved the philosophy and curriculum of our Coach Education Program. In order to improve even more the coach educational program in Canada, there has to be a full scale financial investment to add new coaching staff and programs.See the results of Iceland for the Euro-Qualifying and they will tell you that the main reason for their success is the improvement of the quality of coaching at the younger age

In my opinion, there are significant opportunities for improvement in our soccer coaching education and to ENSURE consistent, World-Class performances by our National Teams similar to Iceland but we need to invest heavily in coaching education and we need to take care of the following:

A – The Need for more Coaches
B – The Need for a New Pathway for Certified Soccer Coaches
C – The Need to retain our Coaches
D – The Need for Qualified Coaching Instructors

The need to establish a SOCCER Coaches Association!

We also need to move our training focus beyond simply acquiring soccer skills and knowledge. Success in games is about the application of new knowledge and skills – it’s about behaviour change. It’s about good soccer habits. Unfortunately, at the youth level right now we are failing in this mission: only 10-20% of what players learn in a soccer training session is transferred back to the game. The reason? Recent research shows us that there is a distinction between a ‘motivation to learn’ and a ‘motivation to transfer’, and while most coaches are good at tapping into the first source of motivation, the second is often left unaddressed. I think the CSA needs to introduce into their soccer curriculum what it takes to tap into habits and ‘motivation to transfer’—and highlight a strategy to close the ‘gap’ between learning and doing, and ensure successful application of the knowledge gained in soccer practice is transferred to the official game.


A – The Need for more Coaches

Where we are – The need for more Coaches

Trained, Certified, Qualified and MOTIVATED soccer coaches are the mainstay of any soccer development program. Who else can ENCOURAGE the growth of the game in our country more than the Coaches with the appropriate skill set for the level of soccer that they coach? Most community coaches became involved in coaching because their children play the sport. Those coaches are likely to drop out of coaching once their children are no longer involved.

Our coaching education program, especially in the early stages, must MOTIVATE the coaches to progress and stay in the game even after their kids are no longer involved. There are three different kinds of motivation: (1) extrinsic (stemming from external forces), (2) intrinsic (stemming from internal forces) and (3) a motivation (a state of lacking any motivation to engage in an activity, characterized by a lack of perceived competence and/or a failure to value the activity or its outcomes). As famed football coach Homer Rice noted, “You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward” but both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation. We need to identify those who have the “soccer bug”.

Solution – The Need for more Qualified Coaches

  1. As mentioned in the past by several coaches and officials “In order to attract new coaches we must make coach education accessible to as many coaches as possible, by eliminating the fees of these courses or by providing financial support to attend from the Clubs, Provinces or CSA.(If CSA or the Provinces or the clubs increase the registration fee by $1 or $2 should be more than enough to cover the cost)”
  2. Do not mandate coaching certification for youth soccer coaches at the U4-U7 entry level (attendance based training required)
  3. Once the coaches join the organization we need to develop, engage and MOTIVATE them by providing them with the skills they need. In order to grow the sport of soccer. We need to identify the players and coaches that are self-motivated and are passionate about the game. “Motivation is a fire: a fire which is ignited by a dream and fuelled by passion, a passion to prepare and to know-how, when, where and why you do what you do.”

In understanding what motivates people to get involved as a coach it is important to realize that most do not get involved because of the rewards and recognition, but without it most people will not stay involved. We definitely need more coaches (Especially self-motivated coaches, who love the game, want to succeed and make a difference).


B – Certified Coach Education

Where we need to go – The need for a new pathway for certified soccer coaches

Coach education in Canada should be free of charge as mentioned above. Coach education should give time to coaches to put in practice what they learn. Attendance based Certification may be sufficient to get a Community Fundamental License but it’s the personal experience one gains from actually coaching that really helps them develop as a coach – That experience is even more important as you progress through the coaching levels. For every license you get after the Community Fundamental Licence, there should be a Performance Based Certification with a minimum amount of practical experience gained before moving on to the next level. For that reason, I strongly suggest that Mentoring coaches should be reintroduced.

Our coaches need time and experience to develop their craft and the reintroduction of mentoring should help with that. Having coaches with a high level of coaching education will give Manitoban and Canadian children the opportunity to receive a strong foundation. This is something that is not the case at this time in North America and in many provinces in Canada including Manitoba,- where at the provincial, club and community levels the coaches are often under-qualified and lacking in basic training principles. Higher level experienced and certified coaches will give our players the best chance of becoming good footballers.

In my opinion, it is obvious in Manitoba and Canada that you need to get your education in a good private club or academy if you want to become a professional footballer. In Manitoba for example, almost 90% of players that are moving on to Universities or Professional environments have used private academies to supplement their training because this is where most of the qualified coaches are found.

The outlook today on coach education is not much different than 5-10 years ago when the system was based correctly on recreational needs – we didn’t have professional soccer in Canada or North America. Today we have professional soccer in Canada (3 MLS teams, 2 NASL teams, 2 USL PRO, League 1 Ontario/Quebec) with private academy and club representation. There are also 6 USL/PDL teams that are part of the four North American divisions. (MLS, NASL, USL/PRO & USL/PDL)

We must develop coaches who can be involved at the highest levels of the game.

We need a High Performance Based Certification , a PRO licence for coaches who want to make a living coaching and to help our players reach those levels. We need a vastly different outlook with an intelligent, common sense based overhaul of the system that will include PRO licences and support those wishing to achieve this level of coach education.

The education of coaches is one of the key factors in the development of soccer players that go on to achieve national, professional and International status.

Solution – Coach Education

  1. If the game in Canada is ever to compete with the best footballing nations of the world we need clear pathways. Much like player pathways, there must be a new pathway for coaches.
  2. The introduction of Soccer specific Physical Trainer & Goalkeeping Licence: Basic and Advance.
  3. Mentoring coaches should definitely be introduced.

 

Opportunity for Development - With descriptions

Opportunity for Development – With descriptions

 

The graphic above outlines my ideal pathway for coaches culminating with the PRO license, the highest level of coach education. These are the certified licenses coaches and instructors ought to be required to obtain by Canada Soccer and its Provincial Member Associations.

We need a revamped pathway for certified soccer coaches

As part of the coaching education for those who are interested you can view my presentation on “The Profile of the Modern PRO- Coach” that I presented to the PRO LICENCE coaches when I was invited to be an instructor for the Pro licence course in 2011.

This is a short version of the Power Point. If you want the entire presentation please e-mail me at eduardo@world-soccer-academy.com


C – The Need for Coach Retention

Where we need to go

We need to find a way to keep ALL the quality coaches in the game, especially those with National B and National A qualifications. Locally, there are several good National B and National A- licensed coaches who are not involved in the club or provincial systems. How can an emerging and ambitious province afford to have some of its most valued resources sit idle? I’m sure the same is true for other parts of Canada.

You could say the Canadian and Manitoba system is like a lottery. If you are lucky you can get a good education but if you are unlucky you can get a coach during your first years of learning football that has no education or experience – or even worse – you get that throughout your playing career. Canadian clubs tend to allocate a lot of their resources in the youth system to pay for their administrative staff and equipment but very little for coaching development. The reality of running a small business tends to push the Long Term Player and Coaching Development plans to the back shelf. Many in the system, especially when they are appointed to a new position, are intimidated by knowledgeable or high level licenced coaches. Too often it is the “Yes man” coaches and staff preferred with limited knowledge and experience so they can achieve their personal agendas. Their thinking is not long-term with the fundamental aim of improving the coaching sphere.

Solution – Coach Retention

  1. We need to keep ALL the quality coaches in the game, especially the National B and National A. We need to embrace their knowledge and experience and to engage them.
  2. The best way to retain coaches is to ensure these three key words:
    • Acknowledge
    • Recognize
    • Reward
  3. As with other things in life (such as our career and our community involvement) if we feel valued and appreciated for what we do we are more likely to stay involved and our enjoyment factor is increased. So it is with our coaches. We need to give them a sense of being valued and appreciated and the hopeful outcome is continued involvement and commitment to the club and the game of soccer.

D – The Need for Qualified Coaching Instructors

Where We Need to go – Who is Coaching the Coaches and the Instructors?

Another opportunity for improvement is in the coaching instructor department. Our coach facilitators need to be of the highest level with experience in both coaching and being a facilitator. These facilitators must at minimum hold the Canadian A licence and must attend a continuing coaching education program. Do our facilitators have the skills required to coach our coaches? In order to achieve the highest level in any profession you must ultimately learn from those with the highest level of education.

Someone once said “Do you get a university Master’s Degree from instructors also holding a Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees? No, you learn from people with PhD’s who have already been where you are and can best help you get to where you want to go.” We have the PhD soccer coaches in Canada we just need to get them involved and leave the politics out for the betterment of soccer!

Solution – Coaching the Coaches and the Instructors

  1. Our coach facilitators need to be of the highest level with experience in both coaching and being a facilitator.
  2. These facilitators must at minimum hold the Canadian A licence and must attend a continuing coaching education program.
  3. The instructor of the facilitators should hold a Pro-Licence and also must attend a continuing coaching education program.

What Next?

  1. The value of planning for the future (succession planning) Another measure of a successful club or association is its ability to hold on to coaches, and the planning it puts in place when a new pool of coaches is required. This is called succession planning. A succession plan is a way of making sure all the good work a club or an association puts into practice is not wasted. It is a way of planning for the future by putting in steps and processes to “keep the good work kicking on” not to start from Zero.Until now, the lack of emphasis on ensuring qualified coaches in our youth soccer system has affected the quality of players and coach education. We recently introduced a national curriculum for coach education and it is a vast improvement from what we’re used to, but as with everything, there’s room for improvement. We need to continually evaluate what we need our coaches to learn, who are going to teach them, and what role continuing education will serve in maintaining our coaching skills. This way our children would have structure and commitment from qualified people whom will guide them in the right direction.
  2. The establishment of a Soccer Coaches Association, with a local and national presence, would be useful improving coach development and retention.Another significant opportunity for development of the curriculum of our coaching education is that it fails to match our Canadian identity; it should emphasize our strengths while matching our Canadian Way to play soccer!
  3. This however leads into another topic for discussion at another time when we will talk about “The need for a clear vision, philosophy and curriculum” in more detail later in this series.

 

U5/U6 Developmental Plan

U5/U6 Developmental Plan

 

Final words

“It’s important that the CSA as they proclaim in their strategic priorities , invests in Technical Leadership invest in Coach Education so that players, of all ages and at all levels, can be adequately supported in their development with proven technical programs and well trained, knowledgeable coaches and educators. We should be able to add much quality to the work that is being done inside the clubs and provinces, make better players and help the national teams, and club sides, get better. The work is therefore more purposeful.” Having coaches with a high level of education gives Manitoba and Canadian children the opportunity to receive a strong foundation.
One suggestion will be to take a look at the coaching education in Iceland

PS- Check our Resources for Coaches page for more info!

 

WSA Blog Footnote

WSA is pleased to offer these blogs on topics and issues of interest to our soccer communities. WSA individually trough Eduardo Badescu and collective knowledge, experience and perspective, locally and internationally, prompts us to offer these thoughts for the consideration of all interested parties. Our blogs are put forward in the interest of the betterment of soccer, from the local to the national scene. We emphasize that they are offered in the spirit of service to our community at large. We hope these views will inspire positive and constructive debate amongst all who love our beautiful game.

And should these ideas find resonance within any of the many clubs and associations, we are eager to be involved in the proceeding developments.