Recently I wrote about the structure of soccer in the USA and the fact that there was no clearly defined path for youth clubs to follow. Another problem is that, as a Director of Coaching, you have no backing unless a board comprised of parents supports you. The problem with this is that most parents are interested in their child and his/her team, so there is almost always an angle.
Parents want their children to have a positive experience, so winning is highly valued. Player development takes a back seat, because if a team is not winning the players leave to find another club with a better team. This is especially true with smaller clubs where the talent pool is shallow.
I think it would be so much easier to keep players, if there was a place to send your special talent on a regular basis to train without cost. The Olympic Development Program (ODP) really only identifies players, who can afford to tryout. If you make the team, then it cost more money to participate. The USSF Academy Programs cost $2500.00 and you first have to tryout to be identified.
The youth club also has a charge attached to it, so we are not much better, but we try to find a place for everyone to play. We try to develop players despite pressures from parents about playing time, winning games, playing in tournaments to showcase their children. What they fail to realize is that it takes time to produce players. There is, therefore, a hindrance to player development with the current structure of youth clubs, because job security at the club level is predicated on parental satisfaction.
Club Directors last an average of 23 months. They are voted out by a board who wish to go in a different direction, or they fold to the unrealistic demands of parents. This is why I say there is no backing. Directors should have to answer to subsidiary of the USSF. We should also be paid by USSF because we are dealing with talent at the grass roots level and this is where the next special player will come from, if developed properly.
The current system is looking for players at the age of 15 and older. By this time it is too late, if players have not been in a training environment conducive to development. More time, respect and funding showed be allocated to the youth system. The national team coaches have all said that we must do a better job developing players, because the national team players are deficient technically and tactically.
This will only happen when the soccer culture changes and the emphasis is placed on developing the youth structure with more diligence. Too many decisions are made at this level by people with little or no soccer background. The end product will, as a result, continue to fall short of the desired standard.