Youth soccer and how the reward system is whacked
There are plenty of examples to choose from but I will write about one that is near and dear to me. Not really.
I wrote about this team in another post. This is a team whose last year’s success was defined by one player. I don’t want to name names but for the sake of this post let’s call this player ‘Magalie’. They won their league, the cup and fell just short of winning nationals. Without ‘Magalie’ they definitely would not have achieved what they did. I did not watch one season game but u don’t need to be a math whiz to see that if u removed all of her stats the team record would have been drastically different. I did watch all their matches at nationals. Some a couple times. Watching those matches only confirmed what I already knew which is that the team isn’t really that good. During the matches ‘Magalie’ was off or shut down, the rest of the team had no solutions and were rendered ineffective. In the final, BC exposed them for what they are which is not very good (more later in this post). It was a one sided match and had BC had good finishers the score would have been a rout. In the end the team was awarded ‘team of the year’ and the coach got ‘coach of the year’. Deserving? Maybe on the team level, maybe, but coach? Why? Because he acquired a star player? Certainly not.
Anyway, flashback a few years when a certain coach was asked to take the reigns of a team that also had a ‘star’ player and that over the years was winning because of this star player. The only difference here was that once he accepted the coaching gig he was told that the star player, along with a 2nd star-ish player would be moved to the older team and that he’d have no access to them for the entire season. 👀… oh, I see what you did there Mr Technical Director! Ok, challenge accepted. Could this coach convince this team that they would be just fine without the star players? He sure did. He made them believe and they achieved greatness. Undefeated. First place. Championship. Was this achievement recognized? Hell no. At the very least, at the club level both team and/or coach should have been recognized. Instead the team’s achievement was actually played down by the club technical director. Played down!!! Why? He obviously expected the season to play out differently without the star player. And there lies the problem. The reward system is misplaced. What shouldn’t be rewarded is and what should, isn’t.
This season ‘Magalie’ was moved up to the older squad that over the last few seasons has been nothing better than a middle of the pack team. This year they are in first and have already qualified for nationals with games to spare. Coincidence? I think not. In all likelihood this means a team of the year and possibly a coach of the year. Again it begs the question… Deserving? No. Atleast not on the coach side.
Btw the team ‘Magalie’ played for last season now sits at middle of the pack with a .500 record this season. Remember this is the team that had one loss last season, won the division, cup and got to the finals at nationals. Coincidence? I think not. Just saying.
Lack of commitment + lack of support = Difficult season
My daughters team is sandwiched between two age groups whose respective teams are having a great season. This team however is struggling. The last time this team had a stellar campaign was in 2015. I was their coach. Just putting it out there 😁. They have struggled since. As a matter of fact when the season started my daughter did not want me to go watch as they were struggling. At the half way point though we made a deal that I’d go watch only the home games. And if she felt she didn’t want me at any particular game I would not go.
Anyway, there is talent on this team. What it lacks is commitment. It doesn’t matter how good an individual player is, when there isn’t collective commitment it’s hard to succeed as a team. In a competitive environment, the biggest trigger to lack of commitment is lack of playing time. When a player doesn’t get playing time, their will to commit is nonexistent. In today’s generation it is very difficult to find young kids/young adults who are willing to fight it out and work hard toward achieving something. If they don’t get what they want, they won’t work for it. They either quit altogether or leave for ‘greener pastures’. There are very little values instilled nowadays. It’s want, want, want without working for it. It’s terrible.
Players, not getting the playing time you want? Parents, coaches, friends…Listen… @kobebryant talks about the mentality it takes to get what you want. @espnsbrother https://t.co/v7looolmpC
The other issue this team is facing is the lack of support from the technical director and also the coaches below and above this team. I was in the loop for many years. I know the drill. At the beginning of every season you get the defacto email from the TD that he and his staff will support any decision you make as a coach and will be there in general to support in any capacity. Bull, Fuckin’ Shit. The TD has shown very little interest in this team. I saw this lack of support back in 2015 when I coached the team. The difference then is that I knew what I was doing and the team was immensely successful 😁👍. The other issue is the lack of support coming from the other two coaches that could be helping but are not. Both the coaches of the younger and older team have players that they can send to this team to help support but they don’t. Another thing that happens at the beginning of each season (atleast I think it still does) is that coaches are told that they must support the other teams in the club when required. That as coaches they should not refuse a request for players when it happens. Another resounding bull shit. Both these teams have players that don’t get alot of playing time with their respective teams that could be sent to help this team but the coaches refuse. Why? Because they are chasing first place. Terrible. And do you think anything gets done about it? Of course not. Who are we kidding. I feel for this teams coaching staff. It’s a terrible feeling when you don’t get support from those that ‘promised’ it would be there.
I Retired, Un-Retired for a New York Minute and Retired Again.
A few months back I wrote about retiring from youth soccer after many, many years. During the off season I was approached to return for the 2018 season. After talking to my family I decided to go for one more season. Both my wife and daughter wanted me to. I gotta tell you it was very surprising that my wife was my biggest cheerleader since she’s been wanting me to get out for many years now. Anyway last November during a coach’s symposium I had a conversation with a coach who I consider a friend. We talked about a few things including my returning and he told me that I should return if I still have the passion for it. Otherwise I should never do it for someone else. Pretty simple, right? That really got me thinking about my last three years since I coached the U13s. I realized he was right. I returned not for me but for someone else. The fact is that since 2015 things haven’t really gone the way I thought they would go. That 2015 season was an eye opener and in the end thanks to this conversation I realize that I don’t have it in me any longer. So this past week I had a conversation with the technical director and current coach of the seniors team I was to return to and advised him that I want to stay retired. The conversation went well and he understood. Honestly, I feel so much weight lifted off my shoulders. So it was close. That expression ‘I tried to get out but they keep pulling me back in’ no longer applies to me! Phew. 😀
So i googled to find out how long a New York minute lasts… well, ok… my unretirement lasted longer but it adds to my post title, no? 😋.