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Fighting For Change in a Local Soccer Club: A Letter to the Club's President About the Effect of Cutting

  • By telling a child that he has been placed on a wait list, and hasn't made the team, you are basically telling him that he isn't good enough to "represent" our town. What kind of message is that to send an eleven-year-old boy? No-Name's attitude seems to be that travel soccer is only for "stars". That is not, as I understand it, the purpose of travel soccer. Let the strongest players, at any point in time, play on Spirit [select travel team]. Yes, the children should be on teams comprised of others of roughly similar ability. But, no, they should not be denied the opportunity to play travel soccer altogether just because, in the subjective judgment of those running the tryouts (some of whom, I suspect, are not even certified soccer coaches, and who appeared confused at times during the evaluations about the rules of soccer), they are less "talented" than some other children.

  • As the mother of triplets, I can speak from experience that children, even those born a minute apart, mature at differing rates. One fraternal triplet son, is 5'6" and 130 pounds, another is 5'2" and 105; Our son who "made" the travel team is 4'10" and 70 pounds. At this point in time my biggest son is growing so fast that his coordination can't keep up. When he begins to slow down in his growth, chances are he is going to grow into his body and quickly catch up in the coordination department. Who's to say that he won't turn out to be faster and more agile than my son, who, at this point, is the fastest and most agile of the three? That child A may a "better" athlete than Child B at age eleven does not mean that Child A will be a "better" athlete at age fourteen or seventeen. Yet implicit in the decision to place Child B on the wait list for travel soccer is the judgment of someone that he will never be a better soccer player than Child A.

  • To those who say that Child B will have just as much of a chance to make future teams, I say, let's not kid ourselves. Not only will Child B be likely to get discouraged and give up on soccer completely and permanently (because the Fun has been removed), so he will never have the chance later on to show just how wrong that evaluator was, but, as a practical matter, by not being on travel soccer, he will be at an extreme disadvantage in future tryouts, first, because he will not be a "known quantity" like Child A, and, second, because he will have had less of a chance than Child A to develop his skills by receiving the coaching and the chance to play with the better players. This is simply not fair, and it substantially reduces the pool of soccer players from which the middle school and high school can later draw. The town where I grew up wins titles in boy's and girl's soccer year after year. From speaking with board members in that town, and from personal experience (having grown up, coached and played soccer there), I know for a fact that some of its best players were not "stars" when they were ten or eleven. Yet because they were not discouraged from continuing to play, and were included rather than excluded from the travel soccer program, they were still playing soccer when they reached high school, where they blossomed into varsity players. Can the same be said for our town?

  • I also have some suggestions regarding the way in which the teams are selected. Like our town, the town where I grew up at one time used the 6 on 6 format of mini-scrimmages. They soon found out, however, that such a format only identified the boys and girls who, at that stage, were strong offensive players. The format did not identify those with the potential (again, remember, that is really all we are talking about when we are speaking about eleven year olds) to be strong halfbacks and fullbacks (which involve different skills). As a result, the town doesn't use this system anymore. My experience with the recent tryouts, at which I was an evaluator, proved my point. My biggest son, who was identified by his rec league coach has having outstanding potential as a fullback, is, as mentioned above, very tall and not as agile and cagey as some others. He probably was not viewed, perhaps correctly, as being forward material at this point in time (although last year, when he was six inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter, he was a top scorer for his town travel team)[Note: as things turned out, he ended up playing both fullback and forward in high school], but travel soccer shouldn't just be comprised totally of forwards; it needs fullbacks too. Also, what about goalies? How are they identified?