At D.F.C., we believe that well-informed parents are absolutely essential not only for the success of D.F.C. as a club but also for the the long-term success of soccer in our country. Youth soccer in the US has become a big business — with every passing day it becomes increasingly about money rather than about the children. Most youth soccer clubs are less concerned about teaching soccer and more focused on recruiting the best players, winning games, and then marketing the results so that the next level of the pyramid can be built. If that sounds like a scam to you, you are not that far off. Want to see a pay-to-play soccer club crumble? It happens much more quickly than you would ever imagine when they lose a bunch of games. Team and coach defections are standard fare in youth soccer today, lured away by the chance to win a few more games or make a bit more money. The entire “industry” is caught in downward spiraling vicious cycle.
The reality is that parents often grossly undervalue the importance of the quality of experience for their children (having fun while developing as a player and learning key life lessons) and simultaneously overvalue the importance of winning trophies and the prestige of playing on an “elite” team. Then there is the trap of college scholarships. In the 2012-2013 school year, there were 782,514 US high school student-athletes that played soccer (410,982 boys; 371,532 girls). During the same year, there were approximately 8,300 division 1 college soccer players in the US (roughly 3,300 men and 5,000 women). Do you like your odds? Don’t forget that a significant number of Division 1 colleges do not offer athletic scholarships for soccer and the others offer only a limited number to their student-athletes that make the team. One more thing, a significant percentage of US Division 1 soccer players are international students, particularly in the men’s programs. Our point is that you, and more importantly your children, should enjoy the journey — it should be about having fun, learning, growing, and playing for the love of the game.
Here are a few resources that you might find helpful.
This is a thought-provoking article about one coach’s view of what is wrong with youth soccer in our country.
This is a paper written by Mike Barr, the Director of Coaching for Eastern Pennsylvania — his message to parents is very cautionary.