Below is a link to an excellent article written by Jason De Vos, and posted on http://www.tsn.ca on December 1st, 2015. As the title suggests, this article discusses some of De Vos’ opinions about why we have not been able to develop “talented” soccer players in Canada over the past several decades.
Among the reasons De Vos lists for our inability to develop talented players are:
- “from as young as six or seven years of age, players are routinely grouped based on their ability”
- “we do not have an assessment-based coaching qualification for coaches who are working with youth players”
- “we have far too many players given the number of trained and experienced coaches we have”
- “talented young players are courted and recruited from the time they take their very first steps in competitive soccer”
- “when a season comes to its conclusion, many coaches use the off-season to upgrade their players – they discard the weaker players on their team and recruit stronger ones from other clubs”
These are all, of course, valid concerns, and problems that need to be solved if we are to develop more talented soccer players in this country.
Probably the best point De Vos makes in this article, however, is one that really resonated with me when I read it (probably because I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work at the university, professional club academy, and Canadian National Youth Team levels, which he refers to, in the past few years of my career). He says very succinctly:
“winning championships and trophies doesn’t matter. Ask any university coach, professional club academy coach or national youth team coach to list the 10 most important factors they look for when they are trying to identify prospective players, and I guarantee you that not one of them will put trophies won on their list.”
When I think back to conversations I had with the different head coaches I worked with in these environments, I can literally recall several examples of them making this exact same point to me. De Vos summarizes his position with a call to action; that the adults involved in youth soccer in Canada (parents and coaches) need first and foremost to be teachers of the game. Only if we completely stop emphasizing the pursuit of championships in youth soccer, can we truly focus on the development of essential soccer skills.
I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did, and of course I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.