So your child wants to start playing soccer and asks you to join a Soccer club. Amused and amazed you decide to entertain the idea. You start looking in the local papers and you ask fellow parents who have enrolled their children in soccer for advice. It is difficult to determine or even evaluate a soccer club based on face value. Their is no single right way to run a soccer club or organise a soccer team. So how do you decide which club your child will play for?
First of all, you must ask and understand your child’s needs. Does he want to develop into a superstar or does he just want to run around in the outdoors with his friends? Once you establish the goals of your child, you can start searching for the most suitable club.
In addition, parents must be realistic in choosing a soccer club. Clubs of varying sizes will have varying capabilities. It would be ludicrous to expect the same training facilities and coaching staff at the local club that is run by volunteers, compared to an academy that is endorsed and sponsored by a big name player. Having said that, I know alot of great players and coaches that give back to their own local community in preference to coaching at bigger clubs or academies. Remember the best coaches aren’t always found at the big clubs or academies.
Every soccer club in the world should have the same goal of developing happy and successful players. The club is just a medium so each player is helped to reach their goals, whether its to play for their Country or just enjoy soccer at a recreational level.
So you might ask, which club should i choose? To be honest, the answer will differ because of all the different variables such as the children, their goals, financial background, location and age. So ill try an answer this question generically so it applies to any child or parent.
The best soccer club for your child should have the following characteristics-
- The club should make their “Goal” known to all players and parents. They should distinguish which players they serve, premier, competitive or just recreational. Clubs should also make it clear if their ambitions are to win titles. Once you establish the clubs mission statement, is it suitable for your youngster? Do you share the same ambitions?
- Does the club offer a development program? Just like at work or at school, the players need to be assessed. The coaches should place most of their efforts on player development.
- Is the coach licensed? Does he hold any certifications as a coach? This one can be tricky, but the bare minimum a soccer coach should have is life experience in the game. You cannot have your children coached by someone who has never played the game or never been associated with the game, not negotiable.
- Parents should be given a forum where they can express their concerns not only to the club, but to the coach. This can be done via meetings or by Parent Evaluation Forms.
- Does the club offer some sort of support? No children should should ever be prevented from playing soccer because of money.
- Does the club have a win at all cost mentality? Winning should only be important as a by product of quality development.
- Does the club offer health insurance and are your children covered?
- If the club charges money, where does the money get spent? Is it re-invested for the benefit of the kids.
- Provide information and some sort of education on a healthy lifestyle. Provide nutritional advice to players.
- Players that show great ability should be exposed to all the necessary pathways to ensure the child is given every opportunity to advance to a professional level. Does the club promote players to the Regional, State or even National teams?
- Each team within a club should have a head coach and an assistant. Also a goal keeper coach is necessary to aid in the development of the goal keepers.
- Does the club have alot of volunteers? A soccer club with many volunteers usually creates a great family atmosphere.
- Does the club hold Social Events? Once again, the club that holds social events usually has a family atmosphere.
- Training should not involve coaches lecturing the players with talk and diagrams, players should never be standing around. Does the coach train the players, or does he lecture them?
Most importantly, do you trust the club? Do you feel comfortable leaving your child there unsupervised for a training session? Also remember that youth soccer can be stressful and challenging, is the club are happy club? The club’s leadership should always be nice and respectful under any circumstance. If they are not, time for the next club. Hope this helps.