Girls soccer: Are we really trying to play? (updated)

“These games, these track meets with jostling, they just don’t look very enjoyable to play in.”

Part 1

Even Pellerud nailed it when he came here. He was hired to get the best results for the women’s national team possible and he looked around and saw that there had been no real attempt to generate a base of technical, smart players who could make good use of the ball. There just weren’t enough of them to base a team around that could beat the better women’s team. He knew that if he played against those teams, they would not win if he picked based on technical ability. So he hung his hat on picking athletes. Fast, strong women who were capable on the ball but and probably still among the best technical players we had. But if it came down to a player with ample speed and strength versus a smaller player with a bit more touch and finesse, the bigger player was going to get picked because that fit better with the plan.

The game was based around overwhelming the technical ability of other teams with Canadian physical prowess so that mistakes were generated and capitalized on. There was no interest in using the ball to dictate the pace and direction of the game. No room for individual creativity to unlock defences and no way was a Canadian back four going to be caught playing out from the back. And that was fine. Pellerud was paid for results and he was right in his assessment of how to best get them with the players he had at his disposal. It’s just very unfortunate that through this process, several promising players were likely passed over for selection and drifted away from the game. It’s also unfortunate that it became obvious what you needed to look like, as a player, to move through from provincial teams to junior national teams. Those that were big, strong and fast and demonstrated an ability and willingness to play very rudimentary, very direct, very disciplined soccer were moved to the head of the class far more often than players who were more diverse in their game but not as physically dominant.

What Pellerud knew was that this approach would almost certainly always win them games against the minnows of women’s soccer and and those countries who still had growing women’s programs with a small base of good players but a lack of depth. What he no doubt hoped was that by building a team based around juggernaut pressure and physical play it would occasionally throw enough of a scare into the elite women’s teams at the right time and they could steal a result they had no other way of garnering. This did happen but eventually as the women’s game evolved not just amongst the middle tier nations of women’s soccer (think Mexico putting Canada out of the 2004 Olympics) but as more and more younger players came up through the ranks in Germany, Japan and the USA, the elite teams started pulling further away from us.

So it was time for the Pelleruds of the game to move on and bring in a coach with a determination to have our women’s team play with technical ability and value possession of the ball. Carolina Morace talked the talk and walked the walk and despite the many stories leaking out about the means, methods and culture she pursued that took the team into some strange territory, the team definitely was on a path to playing better.

The problem was that the cast remained much the same and those that were brought in really have not shown anything like the technical proficiency and head for the game that would allow us to compete with countries like Japan, Germany, the States… France…Nigeria. Initially, I thought this was a mistake on Morace’s part; sticking with much the same players that Pellerud had picked for their physical attributes rather than getting the best players, with a ball at their feet, in the country. Now I see the problem may well have been that she looked and couldn’t find enough of these players and opted to go with experience even if it meant she could only ask so much of the players from a technical point of view.

It cost Morace her job which was already on a knife’s edge due to her relationship with the CSA. Now we turn to John Herdman. The best thing Herdman can do short term is curry enough favour with the CSA that they give him a long, long leash. Morace was not politically savvy enough to realize that bringing her brand of soccer to this country was a long term endeavour and she would need the understanding and patience of the CSA because we simply do not have the players right now to fulfill that dream.

Part 2

We live in one of two or three parts of the country where the game is considered a hotbed for female players. Ontario is clearly way beyond BC in terms of number of players but arguably also in terms of elite players per capita. I’ve heard those numbers argued before and I’m not really interested in that at the moment but it’s fair to say that BC, and more specifically the Lower Mainland, is known as one of the few places in Canada where female players are known to thrive.

But the more I see of what is supposed to be a factory for player development the more I feel bad for John Herdman. While I haven’t seen any of the girls BCPL games yet, I saw many Metro games last year and I’ve just been to another recently and I still see the same things that have plagued high level girls soccer in the province.

If you took the average height and weight of a top level U16 to U18 (ie. post-pubescent) player, they would be markedly taller and heavier than the average girl their age and even the average player in the province. They would also be faster. I’m not an enemy of big, fast athletes. The problem is that the differences in these players physical attributes is far more noticeable than the difference in their technical ability when compared to players a level below them. The primary signifier of an elite player has got to move from being physical attributes to actual ability.

Are the absolute best players being identified and playing at the highest level? Yes, almost entirely. But just as certainly players who are in the lower half of teams at the highest level are more often that not being picked for outdated reasons.

If you assess play critically, you will consistently see that player are still strongly encouraged to approach the game from a Pellerud state of mind.

The girls game is a ghetto of overly physical, overly fast players who are actively discouraged from possessing the ball and taking progressive touches that establish possession and a deliberate attempt to maintaining it. The game I saw recently (I missed the first 20 minutes) contained one instance, ONE, of a team making three consecutive deliberate passes. I didn’t count it if the ball was simply hoofed up the field without a look and a teammate managed to corral it. They are playing at a pace they can physically manage but their technical abilities cannot sustain so there is very little skillful play able to surface.

Every free kick inside the opposing half saw someone called over to take it who could launch the ball as close to the opposing goal as possible. Every corner (and there many in addition to the hundreds of throw ins as the ball seemed to be out of bounds constantly) was launched to the middle of the goal despite a lack of any sort of success getting on the end of them.

The ball in such games is chased. Territory is the goal rather than possession. Launching the ball towards the opponents goal and hoping to pressure the other team into a mistake with speed and physicality is the one discernible tactic. It’s awful to watch. There is no thought to using possession of the ball to control the pace and direction of the game. It’s all about forcing the pace of the game faster and faster until one team makes a mistake that results in a goal scoring chance.

We, as coaches, are simply doing the easy part. We’re talking the talk about wanting to develop players. We are not walking the walk and undertaking a willingness to take that long path, fraught with mistakes that will cost your team goals and points, towards making girls comfortable with the ball and really moving towards a model of play that will create a critical mass of players that will truly enable us to create national teams that can break through the ceiling that allows us to compete for titles and medals. Morace wanted that but her firing was seen, not entirely accurately, as a statement that we have little patience for that and need results now.

But beyond that, it will also create a critical mass of girls who actually enjoy playing the game and will want to keep playing as adults. These games, these track meets with jostling, they just don’t look very enjoyable to play in.

Obviously not every coach is out there running practices that consist of trying to lengthen the kick of their players, timing them on 40 yard sprints and yelling “Pressure!” in every ten seconds during scrimmages. There’s some excellent coaches working on the girls side. Just not enough.

To be fair, the players have to share a bit of blame for the mode of play themselves. Girls simply, on average, do not spend nearly as much time per week with a ball at their feet as boys do. I see it at schools and parks after school. Boys are engaged far more in unstructured soccer than girls. That, again on average, gives them a considerably higher technical ability and that allows coaches to feel a bit more comfortable trying to get their players to base a game around keeping the ball rather than thumping it down the field because there’s a much greater chance that they will be able to control balls that come to them rather than have errant first touches that bounce off shins inadvertently to opponents. How often do you see opponents lunge in on Xavi, Busquets or Iniesta? Not very often because they know there’s a high risk/reward ratio in that behaviour. Lunge in and their first touch will be into the space they should have patiently held. No defender ever made a living underestimating the first touch of Zinedine Zidane. Until a player’s first touch can demonstrate that it has an ability to take advantage of undisciplined, lunging pressure by playing it through it consistently, they will be subjected to undisciplined, lunging pressure. Many women’s national teams have evolved to this level of ability. We are still grinding gears trying to move towards that goal in a two steps forward, one step back kind of way.

Wish I had more answers. As a Technical Director, I go out of my way to laud not just the coaches I work with at our club but any opponents that I come across that you can see are really trying to teach the game to girls, goals against be damned. It’s not an easy path. Most parents really don’t understand much more than a scoreline when it comes to the game and apply an analysis on how the coach is doing based on that.

As a parent and coach of a daughter who enjoys playing and an advocate of girls soccer, it’s frustrating to see the difference in the girls game compared to the same age and level on the boys side. It just shouldn’t be as big as it is. While the boys game and the girls game will never be indistinguishable from each other, there’s definitely a stronger need on the girls side to embrace a path that will lead to better soccer being played and more players enjoying it.

UPDATE: Further to Julie’s comment below about her daughter quitting because all soccer was to her was kicking and chasing and that was boring. When I was writing this I intended (as the opening quote infers) to make the argument that this brutal hack and hope style of play doesn’t just stunt the development of elite players who we hope will go on to represent Canada and compete with the best women’s teams in the world but also that it increases attrition in the more recreational levels of play. It’s hard enough being a teenager (boy or girl) what with homework, peer pressure, parental expectations, hormones, etc. Their youth soccer experience should be rooted in enjoyment and having a comfort with all the aspects of the game. To be urged to get rid of the ball as early as possible and to boot it as far as you can away from where  you are is not enjoyable. The game loses its appeal for most as they are only tangentially connected to it.

Re-reading it I don’t think I made that point clear enough so I wanted to reiterate it here.

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76 Responses to Girls soccer: Are we really trying to play? (updated)

  1. Julie says:

    It must be so frustrating for you as someone who loves and studies the game. My daughter quit because she concluded the beautiful sport was dumb: You just kick the ball and chase it, she says. But that’s what she learned from her coaches.

    My observations: it really is all about the coaching. Lots of coaches former players but they can’t always teach. And lots of practices on touch and passing but the players don’t know what to do on the field. The main difference in practice is there is a pecking order–the best players know how to get around the bottom players–but despite all the practice the best players don’t necessarily learn how to battle opponents in a real game.

    • Gregor says:

      It’s frustrating to watch and that’s definitely what that post was born of but it’s even more frustrating to hear stories like your daughter’s. Players who quit because their concept of the game is that you just kick and chase.

      It’s definitely all about the coaching. The pecking order you mention is best mitigated by effective tiering of players. I’m a big believer that tiering isn’t about just identifying the best players and providing them with an environment. It’s a leveller so that you create playing environments that are conducive to the enjoyment and development of all players. If you have players who are much better than others on the same team and in the same division it bores the stronger players and erodes the confidence of the weaker players.

      Give players environments that suit their abilities and give them a reasonable chance to contribute meaningfully to their teams’ success. By doing so they have a platform in both training and games to gradually improve and strengthen their connection to the game. This will keep them playing and keep them improving.

      • Julie says:

        The tiering is one reason TSS and others like it work well. Tiering is what HPL, metro, gold, etc. are for, but sometimes there’s still a wide discrepancy on teams.

  2. Julie says:

    What do you think about skill over speed? I’ve seen girls with great skill that are too slow to get to the ball. Is slow-footedness a sign of athletic ability? Can you overcome being slow in this game?

    • Gregor says:

      At the highest levels of the game, there are minimum thresholds related to speed and strength that all players have to meet in order to be able to compete. That can’t be denied. You can however mitigate differences in speed and strength with technical ability and movement off the ball (support) that allows you to maintain possession of the ball as a team and thus control the pace of the game. Again, I point to the examples of the decidedly shorter than average Messi, Xavi and Iniesta as well as the Japanese women’s national team that just won the World Cup.

      Those that want to be stronger can make themselves stronger. It’s more complicated making yourself faster but developing quickness over 5 yards is a very important asset and the ability to improve that lays closer to developing strength than a speed over 40 yards.

  3. K says:

    Don’t feel too bad Gregor, and don’t rush to laud the boys’ game either. I’ve seen exactly what you are describing in the girls game in every district in the LM from u11-u13 on the boys side over the last few years at the “elite” level.

    • K says:

      Apologies, I realize you were referencing the older age groups and I referenced the younger one….the point remains however.

      • Gregor says:

        Funnily enough, I draw great hope from the way that I see the majority of U11 and U12 coaches trying to work with players so they become comfortable on the ball. That actually goes for the girls as well. The problems (as all parents know) come with the teenage years once their physical attributes are set. Teams then seem to be picked too much based on those physical traits and tactics are then based around them too much.

      • K says:

        There are plenty of coaches trying to coach the right way at younger ages. There are far more who are trying to get results unfortunately. This is supported by clubs that keep physically dominant players at their own age rather than moving them up an age.

  4. Colin Elmes says:

    There is a team you should come and watch. They play in the Metro Womens Soccer League. They are all grade 12’s and each and every week they try and “play”

    It can be done

    • Gregor says:

      I would actually really like to see your U18 team play. I know that you and Brendan would insist on certain style of play. Like I said there are many excellent coaches working towards positive learning outcomes for their female players. Just not enough.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        We posted some video highlights at:

      • Gregor says:

        There’s lot of impressive stuff in that video. It does make me want to launch into another screed though about how we should look at having goals that are only 7′ high in the women’s game as there’s still a massively disproportionate number of goals scored from long range chips that would never beat taller (ie. male) keepers. As long as girls and women (and their coaches) know they have way more room to chip smaller, female keepers they’ll look to play to that rather than having to break down defences and create more sophisticated paths to goal.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        Jesse Symons is also someone who deserves lots of recognition. We played his 96 team last week and they played very nice football. Even when things weren’t going their way on the scoreboard, they continued to try and play. I’ve seen some girls teams over the years who play good soccer but the moment they’re losing, it becomes route 1 football. It’s easy to believe in something when you’re winning but the true test of your belief system is when you’re losing.

      • Gregor says:

        “Even when things weren’t going their way on the scoreboard”
        Sly way to say you beat them 😉

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        That’s funny. When I posted the video link, I honestly said to myself “I bet Gregor notices all the goals scored over the keeper’s head.”

      • Gregor says:

        I guess that’s why weeks 4-7 of the TSS curriculum are entirely devoted to “Chipping Keepers” 😉

      • Gregor says:

        The winning goal yesterday as Slovenia beat Serbia 1-0 to put Serbia out of Euro 2012. Someone’s been watching their Kara Lang videos…

      • Colin Elmes says:

        yes. make nets smaller.

        plus please teach the girls how to read spin on the ball and how to head with purpose in crowds of players.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        On a similar note, what about goal kicks for young kids? My son plays U9 and it’s ridiculous to watch teams get ripped apart because they have the misfortune of being awarded a goal kick.

    • K says:

      Too true! There are some great coaches or at least coaches with excellent theory…trying to “play.”

    • Colin Elmes says:

      Cause of course i am all about winning I get my young players to kick the ball off the end line on purpose so the opposition has as many goalkicks as possible. they are actually worth more than corners at the youth soccer level(young ages). it is actually a set play for us 😉

  5. Brendan Quarry says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I think you nailed it when you wrote: “We are not walking the walk and undertaking a willingness to take that long path, fraught with mistakes that will cost your team goals and points, towards making girls comfortable with the ball…” That’s the essence of it. When starting our U18 girls program at TSS last spring, I inundated the players and parents with emails explaining what we were trying to do and warning them that we were going to lose games – badly sometimes because we’re going to try to play proper football. Sure enough we continually made mistakes as we played out of the back and gave up lots of goals. Some parents and players I’m sure were quietly questioning the wisdom of what we were doing. At the end of the PCSL Reserve league, we had one of the highest number of goals against. And yet still managed to finish 3rd because we started to attack better and better. The interesting and depressing fact is that many of the women’s teams that are populated with many ex-college players simply smash the ball in the air over and over again. It has to be seen to be believed. As you said, we are not willing to make mistakes and lose games in order to embark on the long term path of development. Too many coaches feel that their worth is measured in their win/loss record. Parents also need to share some of the blame as they put pressure on the coach if scoreboard results are not immediately evident. At TSS, we feel that the first step is to educate the parents and players beforehand and make them understand the path we’re taking. Without their understanding and buy-in, it’s very difficult.

    • K says:

      ^BQ’s post. Exactly.

      Somehow it needs to become important for coaches to develop their worth by how many of their players “move on to bigger and better”. Whether that is moving them simply on to age groups above what they should be at, university/college, Whitecaps, or playing metro women’s or premier men’s while still youth-aged … or whatever it happens to be.

      I guess that promotion will start with the TD’s, as well as the Whitecaps and other “big programs” stating over and over again they don’t care how many wins a kid has but rather how good they are – I am sure this is very true of the Caps and other “big programs” but it needs to be stated for all to hear.

    • Stuck in Bridge Traffic says:

      And some of those ex-college players move on to become HPL coaches teaching their kids to just smash it up there. Arghhh! the things I see on Sunday. It makes me want to stay home and watch Real Housewives, reality entertainment with plot progression, play from the back, no actors puking on the set cause they didn’t want to leave knowing they won’t get back in later, and a lot less teef gnashing and hair pulling on my part.

  6. Colin Elmes says:

    get back to work Brendan…..

  7. Luis says:

    My daughter has tried out for Metro and Gold for 2 years. The first year she made the final tryouts over girls we knew and played with. One of them was picked for Gold last year and she ended up playing silver., Now the other 2 girls are playing Gold and she is still in Silver. She is not of the kick and run but is very skillful and is a team player with the help of one year in TSS. She stands out in her team this year. Fortunately her coach this year believes in the TSS philosophy so it maximizes her game. Now it’s just a matter of getting more of the girls up to speed which is coming. I just hope she does not give up on the game.

  8. Rasta says:

    Passing is great, attacking quickly is also a good thing to learn. We find that when we play some of the ‘better’ teams, their speed of play is ‘slow’. The pendulum should not swing too far by Sacrificing speed of play for lots of passing and looking beautiful.

    Not hoofing it but attacking quickly and keeping the other team under pressure….and scoring goals because that is also what it’s all about.

    Players have to be technically sound though as the game will turn into kicking it down the field.

    Also Gregor you are right on about the advice for getting stronger. Girls soccer is pitifully weak in the area of advising girls to do strength training. There is no way many girls can be quicker in their weak physical state. Even the big girls are quite weak and you will find that by doing a bit of agility work to see how they are hampered by weak ankles, thighs, etc.

    Some of my players attend Crossfit and it has made a huge difference.

    I believe our Richmond Red Hot Selects play some of the best girls soccer in BC – fast, technically good. and moving the ball very well.

    Looking forward to playing anyone when we return from Nationals.


    • Gregor says:

      Fully agree that good passing and build up play doesn’t have to be done at a snail’s pace. Best example of that was the Real Madrid goal v Ajax last week in Champions League play:!-cristiano-ronaldo-ajax-15464482/

      Good luck at Nationals Clive. Looking forward to checking the results over the long weekend.

      • Colin Elmes says:

        More importantly, how many players do you have on the roster now Clive?

      • Colin Elmes says:


        Didnt you know? Everyone must periodize except for the people who are monitoring the periodization. They can be as reckless as they want. Cause they are in charge!

        Glad you have 13 now. Make sure none of them change their diets while you are away. lots of ice baths. Good luck.

    • Brendan Quarry says:

      Yes, there’s no question that Clive’s team plays good soccer. They keep the ball well and they’re very dangerous up front. He’s done a great job with that team.

      • Rasta says:

        Hello Colin

        I have a huge roster of 13 players. Played with 12 all year so the extra player is going to be huge:)

        By the way. Can someone tell me why, in this age of Periodization (damn I said it), why the Nationals asks the teams to play five games is five days. I know clubs get lectures from the higher ups about how we do not understand Perio….oops almost said it again…rest periods and they ask the players to play five games in five days.

        Can you imagine the World Cup or U-17 quailifying doing that????

        And instead of 40 minutes of play like we’ve been doing all year, they are requiring us to play five 90 minute games in five days. I hope my girls can hold up.

  9. Rasta says:

    Also have a great group of U-12 girls coming up right behind them.

    Watch the All-Star A girls play sometime.

  10. TM says:

    In the boys side:

    “game is a ghetto of overly physical, overly fast players who are actively discouraged from possessing the ball and taking progressive touches that establish possession and a deliberate attempt to maintaining it” – Check (e.g. BCSA’s PTP teams)

    “playing at a pace they can physically manage but their technical abilities cannot sustain so there is very little skillful play able to surface” – Check

    “Every free kick inside the opposing half saw someone called over to take it who could launch the ball as close to the opposing goal as possible.” – Check

    “Every corner … was launched to the middle of the goal despite a lack of any sort of success getting on the end of them” – Check

    “The ball in such games is chased. Territory is the goal rather than possession. Launching the ball towards the opponents goal and hoping to pressure the other team into a mistake with speed and physicality is the one discernible tactic. It’s awful to watch. There is no thought to using possession of the ball to control the pace and direction of the game. It’s all about forcing the pace of the game faster and faster until one team makes a mistake that results in a goal scoring chance.” – Check, check, check.

    My comments:

    When I began to watch boys (and, why not, men’s) games here, my first impression was that their game tempo was clearly off. It was as if you were listening to someone playing a rock ballad with a speed metal beat to it, it sounds just bad. Granted, my internal gauge of what the tempo for soccer should be is conditioned by a lifetime watching and playing soccer in Brazil, which is definitely slower than say the EPL, but still….I frequently go to games and (try to) count successful passes (with purpose, not hope) without relinquishing possession and 3 is generally the ceiling for most teams (MSL and BCSPL included). And that is IMHO a direct result of the tempo they are trying to impress into the game.

    And please don’t let me get started with the long ball into the box approach to free kicks or the absolute incapacity of teams to play a short corner. My personal pet peeve is the throw ins taken always “up the line”, generally to a guy surrounded by a mob of defenders. Want one more? Defenders booting the ball to the sidelines when the keeper is there free for a pass back. Somewhere along the line these boys have been learning that you never ever move the ball in any other direction than up toward the other team’s goal and that should be done in as fast a pace as you possibly can.

    So I make K’s words mine: don’t rush to laud the boys games, my friend. With few and far in between exceptions it is tough to watch…..

    • Gregor says:

      Looks like it’s up to the hermaphrodites to show us a decent game of football 😉

      I suppose it’s relative and maybe I need to see more U16 to U18 BCPL and Metro boys games but my experience has been that kick and run, hit and hope, hack and whack, whatever we want to call it, is far more prevalent on the girls side.

    • RR says:

      A refereshing change….they may only be U11, but you can see here that the seeds of understanding the game have been sown already. Not polished yet of course, but all the elements are there… First 5 minutes are enough to see it.

      • Colin Elmes says:

        Who is this coach Doug guy?He is brilliant. I want to hire him to work for us 😉

        I particularly enjoyed the non stop commentary of the opposing teams coach. While coach Doug proudly observes his boys in calm silence.

      • RR says:

        Didn’t he train on pad 2 under you a few years back? 🙂

      • Colin Elmes says:

        I have run about 6000 sessions in that bubble. Its quite possible he was lurking.

    • Rasta says:

      I totally agree.

      I know the game can be played proper at the boys level as well. I coached a pretty good team in Richmond at the 1993 level and I did see some good teams at 1992 – Surrey and Coquitlam come to mind.

      But my Richmond team played some ball back then. So the boys can do it as well.

      But even more so at the boys, I saw teams with big boys using their physical prowess and air balls to win games early on at my age group. They weren’t so successful at that when all the teams started to even out physically.

  11. TM says:

    I have my own theory and the culprit for me is: Hockey…
    Boys go play soccer here coached and cheered by folks who have themselves grown watching a sport which has a natural tempo that is way faster than football, where dump and chase is a normal and valid way to play and where the goalie is there only to block the other team’s shots,
    Translate all that to the football pitch and what you have? Canadian soccer…

    • Colin Elmes says:

      good analogy TM. Dont forget the gladiator part of the story as well. Part of the tempo and constantly re proving your courage etc.

      I have always wondered why, with goalies like Marty Turco, that NHL teams havent played the puck back to their GK with purpose to re route an attack or to relieve pressure.

      • TM says:

        LOL. I have asked the same to one of my hockey-loving friends and exposed my theories on how I’d play his sport and he just rolled his eyes.

        Same way another one does when I tell him that I’d love to try being a (American) football coach and see the results of kids playing it all loose, complete freedom to ad lib on the spot, no set “routes”, lots of pass backs, etc. In summary, free-flowing play closer to rugby or to (the real) football.

        To my point, if you dump either sport in the middle of Brazil or Spain with local (parent) coaches, what style of game you think they’d teach?

      • Gregor says:

        An interesting case study in that regard is Ultimate. When I was playing about 12 years ago it was still tactically in its infancy and play was very rudimentary with most ‘plays’ starting with a ‘stack’ or a rigid formation. Nowadays, it’s progressed to a much more free-flowing game that is closer to soccer than American football.

      • K says:

        Always wondered why hockey teams don’t pass back to the GK who is unmarked….

      • Gregor says:

        Because there’s ten Luongos for every Turco in the NHL when it comes to goaltenders handling the puck!

    • Rasta says:

      Disagree about the hockey theory.


  12. Colin Elmes says:

    Get better at it then 14 year old budding NHL GK

  13. Outsider says:

    Watched a couple of boys U-13 BCPL games last weekend. Kick and run is alive and well. I saw 3 passes in a row once or twice. We still have work to do!

  14. Rich says:

    I suggest you watch sky sports tonight. Some interesting chat on this topic albeit in the boys game.

    Outsider, interested to hear which U 13 BCPL games you watched last weekend.

  15. Outsider says:

    Rich, I watched both Surrey games. Hopefully we will see improvement as the season moves along.

  16. Gregor says:

    This seems to have touched a nerve. 1000 page views for this story in three days. Makes it one of the best read non BCPL stories I’ve put up.

  17. Colin Elmes says:

    my pet chimp has been clicking on it for days

  18. Phil Hernandez says:

    Very, very few parents get this. And I’m not even talking about those whose daughters toil in the rank of file of the many house teams that populate both the actual house leagues and “Select” or Gold (or Metro…or…). No, I am referring to the parents of girls who are “players” and who compete at a bonafide elite level. An anecdote: I am sitting in the lobby of the hotel where the bulk of the TSS Academy U12 Red (i.e. top) team is staying on the eve of the start of a Spring tournament in Washington. I am chatting with one of the other dads who is telling me all about the success of his daughter’s club team that season. “We didn’t lose a single game. In fact we scored over 100 goals and only allowed 7 all season!” As it happens, there were several girls from that unconquered team on the TSS squad, who, as it turned out, did not win the tournament despite trying to play soccer. Fast forward a couple of days to the next team practice at the bubble and I again find myself chatting with dad on the sideline. He is unhappy with the style of play he observed at the tournament: “our team would destroy this Red team”; unhappy with passing the ball back: “we would have kicked the ball diagonally up the field if we’d have been stuck in the corners like that”; etc. Now I know one anecdote does not a data set make nor a theory prove, but I have heard many, many similar comments from many other parents (some of whom are also coaches).

    So why does what parents think matter on this important subject? I can think of several reasons but the largest is surely this:
    No coach spends as much time with the players as parents do. The opportunities to communicate the right message to the players are far greater for a parent who spends hours each day with their daughters than for a coach who gets only a few hours per week. This is, incidentally, why I have never understood why coaches don’t make a concerted effort to let the parents on the sidelines hear what they are saying to the players. We can be very persuasive (or at least try to be) if given the right information. Because, and here’s the crux of it, it’s not just the players who need the information. If the wrong information, or attitude, or instruction is being passed by a coach, who, as mentioned, only has a few minutes each week with the players, think of how much more “damage” misinformed, wrong-headed, 100-goals-a-year! dads can do.
    Bottom line: educate the parents, and the children will follow.

    There are a few organizations that provide this ‘education’ (and some do it very well). This blog is one example; TSS’ Near Post, another (well the jury’s still out…:)). (I’d include TTP but those guys are, you know, mean:)). TSS goes one step further by providing report cards and by communicating directly with the parents either formally or informally about their philosophy towards training, team play, etc.

    Sadly, our parent community needs more of this ‘push’ mentality vs, pull. Very few parents even know about this blog, others like it, soccer websites, blogging, websites, or soccer. OK those last few are a stretch but you get the picture (I did say “very few parents”). In addition, many parents are to some extent intimidated by their daughter’s coach either because the coach cultivates an attitude of unapproachability or because they don’t know how to articulate their concerns or because they don’t care. (Yes I know there are quite a few in that last camp to which I respond: why are there seemingly so many coaches that don’t care? Door swings both ways. I’m just sayin’.)

    I don’t have a quick fix because this is not a problem that can be solved overnight. But for a start, I’d say clubs and coaches need to take a more proactive approach in spreading the word to the people who are in the best position to reinforce the message. Email, team pages, handouts, post-practice in-person summaries. These are all relatively simple, easily implementable improvements.

    From my side of the fence, I do what I can to raise awareness of the issue, to explain to the extent that I can, the bigger picture. At every practice and every game, I find myself talking to some less-informed but no less intelligent parent about the reasons for the game strategy, etc. I even tried to get 100-goals-a-year! dad to see the other side and I think by the end of that sideline chat, he started to. I am able to do so only because I have sought out the information. To be sure there are others like me. Some just don’t know it. We just need to help them realize it.

    If you educate the parents, and they, in turn, their children, you will have gained a huge ally in the pressure that can be brought to bear on coaches/clubs who subscribe to Pellerud-based soccer paradigms.

    • K says:

      I had an issue earlier this year with parents coaching on the sidelines. I asked for their feedback at a parent meeting and invited them to ask any questions they had. All their questions were re: poor refereeing. I am aware however, they have since stopped coaching on the sidelines. I have been and will continue to be more than inviting of parents being on my sideline (as long as league rules allow) at games and training so they can hear the message. Notably, it was the players who alerted me to their parents coaching them and confusing them during games. When the parents were made aware, they stopped immediately – knowing full well they just want the best for the son. Which is really nice to see, if you look at it the right way.

      It’s my opinion no coach should have a “parent’s not welcome” rule – transparency is absolutely key. Especially in this day and age. Also it makes it easier for the parents to support the coach if the player is upset or bothered with something – the parent has no choice but to support their child if they aren’t given access to the field and hear what the coach is preaching.

      Needless to say parent-education had been ongoing for well over a year. The parents will only learn if they want to accept being taught. The education will be ongoing. The best learning lesson? Dealing with a losing season! Fortunately a number have approached myself and the TD stating how happy they are with the “Style of play.” So that’s nice.

      I will refer my parents and players to this blog.

    • J Larkins says:

      I suppose I agree with Phil and K – I think it is a bit of a stretch to think that any (or even any significant number) of parents involved in soccer at any level will come with the perspective that seems reflected on this and other blogs, or having engaged their kids in this sport will educate themselves through the resources available. That really only leaves TD’s and coaches that buy in – not all do, but those that do need to be a better job of educating parents as to what is trying to be achieved (in a culture where all sports are generally played to win). Just a matter as to whether any of us have the time granted by parents to see good results come from long term thinking – and not just in relation to some future world cup.

      I have spent close to ten years now coaching in one particular age group in boys and have seen many of them, frankly, grow-up. I must say it went from the halceyon days of U6 to perhaphs U8, to the hellish days probably after and up to U14/15, before the more settled days thereafter where I think most of the boys I coach play for themselves and not their parents (and this is not an “elite” team – perhaps parents carry more expectations of their teenagers at the elite level, when they are paying that much for it).

      Must admit, I had to smile last weekend. Coach on the other team yelled (among many, many other things) “they are trying to pass the ball up from their backs! put pressure on the fullbacks!” Actually took that observation as a bit of a compliment. We won the game as well – perhaps I have managed to last long enough to see the long term benefits, perhaps no other parent wants my position or will pay someone else to do it. Who knows.

      I think a shift is slowly coming and educating those involved is, as Phil and K have said, the key.

    • Brendan Quarry says:

      These are all very good points from Phil. I’ve seen quite a few coaches who remain very distant from the parents. They view the parents as the problem so they try to cut them off. And while it’s true that parents can be part of the problem, the solution is not to cut them off but rather to bring them onboard and educate them. Make them allies in what you’re trying to accomplish.

      That being said, coaches themselves should not be let off the hook. Many of the “style of play” issues on the girl’s side of the game remain rooted in the approach taken by the coach. Let’s just make sure the parents don’t become the scapegoat for why girl’s are not “trying to play.” I remain convinced that the primary problem is coaches who don’t want to take the long-term approach to development, a path that is initially fraught with mistakes and losses – all of which are too unbearable for the coach who only wants to win today.

      • K says:

        The key then is hiring dedicated coaches. If you have volunteer parent-coaches it is very true – all they mostly do do is try to win “today.” Volunteer parent coaches are extremely valuable, for sure. But it’s true – what do they care about long-term development though? They want the girls they coach to have fun and that to them may mean winning. So they coach the girls in a way they believe will help the girls win right away.

        I guess we have to be clear though – are we talking about Tier 1 and 2 or is the discussion that at every level it should be about “style of play.” Ideally you have house coaches wanting kids to “keep it on the floor” and all the rest of it but those are also rec teams so how much “coaching” is actually happening there? How much coaching is “expected” there? I can’t answer as I’ve never coached that level.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        K, believe me even “professional” coaches are not immune from the “win at all cost” approach. Some of the teams I’ve played over the years who played the most direct form of football have been coached by “professional” coaches. In fact, some may argue that “professional” coach in particular are susceptible to this type of approach because they feel the need to win in order to protect their reputation.

      • K says:

        I think it becomes easier to teach a “possession-technical” style over a “win at all costs” style if the coach themselves doesn’t particularly care about wins-losses. If the coaches goal is to develop players “for the next level” and be pleased to “lose players to bigger teams” then teaching the game in the way we are discussing becomes easier.

        It is also easier potentially if the “pro” coach isn’t “just a coach” but has another job….if it isn’t their livelihood…..but even the “pro” coach who does rely on coaching as their livelihood needs to have a supervisor (be it TD, be it club chair, be it paying customers – in Colin’s case) that understands “technical development is more important” and reminds the coach that “losing is OK if my kid is learning and having fun…if my kid is getting prepared for the next level” and that coach then of course can show they are sending kids on to the next level.

        I can definitely see how a “pro” coach might fall into the trap of needing to get results to justify their pay cheque….but unfortunately that is the antithesis of “youth development” and only applies to university and beyond….

  19. Colin Elmes says:

    Phil is correct. Education of the adults is one of the key variables in changing the culture. The kids are easy. I spend more time (sometimes during a game episode) speaking to and directing parents. Then two weeks later I ma back at the same topic because behaviours have sliipped back to the default. It is a steep climb up a slippery slope and the adults fall back down just as easily as the players.

  20. MJ says:

    After reading this I stopped and watched a little of a girls Metro game today that was a study in the issue you raise here. Team A tried to play the ball on the ground and had a relatively quiet coach; Team B relied on 2 tall forwards and pounded every ball forward at the urging of 2-3 screaming coaches. They relied on the afore-mentioned track meets and jostling, usually to poach the ball from panicking defender. A nasty rain forced me into the car and home. There I found the team of rocket launchers won the game 2-0, and was in first place whereas the other team was mid-table……!

  21. Rob says:

    I have been monitoring this post for awhile now and agree with most comments. My question to you all is how do we as parents find a coach willing to teach our boys and girls to play this style of soccer? The club which my kids play for have ex TSS coaches,ex whitecap palyer who now coach, ex England player who now coach, none of them are teaching our kids to play this style of soccer all the care about is winning and where there next pay check is coming from. This summer my oldest son played on the TSS traveling team and for this first time in his soccer career I noticed a great improvement in his play, he didn’t care if they won or lost he was enjoying the system they played and thrived playing this way, so besides going to TSS and being apart of the traveling team how do we release the boy and girls back to there clubs where all they do is kick and run?

    • K says:

      Go to their coach and ask their playing philosophy. Go watch the coaches training sessions. How many touches are the players getting? How active and appropriate are the sessions? What are the coaches expressing verbally as their expectations of the players? Once you’ve gathered all sorts of information like that, you can then have a more informed conversation with the coach. You can also speak to the club technical director and ask them a lot of the same questions. How often is the TD out at training or games?

      How do you find a coach that teaches substance and development over winning? Well, watch how the other teams in your league play. Listen to how their coaches converse with their players. Watch for the players’ attitudes on the other teams. Gather all that info because the grass isn’t always greener.

      • Gregor says:

        Excellent comment.

        Just as we aspire to have informed voters at election time and most take the time to learn the issues before casting their vote, even the casual soccer parent with little knowledge of the game can educate themselves along the lines of K’s comment. Particularly in environments that require a big commitment of time and money, parents really should be trying to get a handle on what constitutes good coaching and a good approach to development if they want their kids to prosper.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        I would also make a point of watching the coach in the game environment. Often there’s a disconnect between how a coach runs a training session and how he/she coaches in a game. Training sessions can be well run from a technical perspective but often there’s a contrary message on game day – namely to get a result and to not make mistakes.

  22. Coach Greg says:

    I first want to say that this blog is not only proving to be interesting and insightful, but extremely educational and informative. My thanks to not only Gregor, but to the many contributors as this post has continued to grow. I have a perspective and comment to share that is not entirely unique to the readers, but one that I hope will add to the thoughts already shared.
    I am currently a coach for a U12 Select B team, and this is my first year of coaching at the Select level. I have been a high-level soccer and hockey player my entire life and have coached since my daughter started playing, minus her first year playing Select level soccer last year. I am coaching this year for many reasons, but as it pertains to this blog, one is because of the experience my daughter had last year.
    My daughter is a talented and skilled player who, like so many girls she plays with, has the raw potential to become a much better player. She loves the game so much, as I do, and the comments I have read strike very close to home for both of us. She is smaller in stature than most players at her age level, but is a fierce competitor who plays ‘much bigger’ than her size. She is very fast with and without the ball, has good control, but we continually refocus on ball control, passing and receiving, and decision making. Her coach last year played strictly a ‘dump and run’ style with an emphasis on ‘high and long balls’ into the offensive half. It was a style that not only contradicts everything in this blog, but also puts most girls at great risk of collision and injury – something that we often forget to consider. This isn’t the place for details, but it was a difficult year for girls and parents alike, and was not a good experience.
    My own coaching philosophy is entirely focused on skill development and control for every player – and I opened this year’s season with both the players and the parents with the comment that ‘Results are our SECOND priority – Player Development is our FIRST.’ That comes from years of my development where I can look back and know beyond doubt that the coaches that REALLY made the player I was, and the coach I am becoming, where the ones that didn’t let me compromise my development for wins or individual stats. We are a team that has some very good players and they are all very keen to be better, as evidenced by the fact that half of my team is also registered with TSS, including my daughter of course. Every player and parent is bought into this philosophy after our first month because A) they are seeing the results in HOW we play – win or loss, and B) we engage the girls AND the parents at every opportunity to reiterate and emphasize our goals. The importance of this is critical because we are a team that COULD win nearly every game if we reverted to dump and run soccer – we have strong players throughout the team, and we have a lot of speed up front. At current, we are not at the top of our division because we are making this transition, but as a coaching staff we know that winning will come as a result of better individual and team play, and we will take the short term losses for long term wins. Many of the girls and parents are already used to winning, and so altering that focus requires constant interaction and reassurance by us as coaches, both in person and throughout the week by email.
    I’m not sharing this to get a pat on the back however. I’m sharing this because so many of the teams we play, including the team we played yesterday, continue to ignore most if not all of this by playing physically dominant players in a ‘deep ball’ system. We played a team that had talent and was competitive, but focused on one very tall and athletic forward, who when confronted with controlled play by our defense and midfield, simply turned to physical intimidation. Here’s hoping her coach will learn in time that she would be near unstoppable if she was supported by a passing midfield that could feed balls into space….
    I am very thankful to have moved to a club (Burnaby Girls Soccer Club) that not only supports these initiatives, but is actively training and educating the coaches, parents, and players at every opportunity that player development is their primary focus as well. The technical director and team are available ALL the time to every level, and every fourth team practice for our U12 Selects is run by the technical team WITH the coaches. Every month there is coaches training, and the club really focuses on how to make US better, so we can make the girls better.
    The reality of girls soccer development in Canada, like ANY other sport, is that it all comes down to coaching. As an coach, I know that the girls’ development hinges primarily on MY development as a coach. I take my education and improvement as a coach as seriously as I hope my players will take their role. Then I make sure that the parents always understand the short and long term goals we have for the players both individually and as a team. I read, I study, I watch video, and I have opportunities every single week to watch the coaching – in action – of both the TSS coaching staff and the Burnaby technical coaches. I then take that to practice twice a week and develop players that will not hit their peak next week, or next month, or even next year. It’s great to read blogs like this one and others that remind me that I am not alone in this thinking, but rather part of a changing community in this sport.
    Here’s wishing that every coach and every parent reads posts like this one and this is message our girls (and boys) are receiving!

    • Gregor says:

      Thanks Greg. As I’ve said before there are many very knowledgeable people who post in the comments hear and I, like you, appreciate them taking the time to share their thoughts and ideas. I’m glad to hear Bby Girls is providing the sort of support you, as a coach, find helpful. I think most clubs with TD’s are realizing the benefit of coach development and looking to support their volunteer coaches with a range of ideas and programs.

  23. Colin Elmes says:

    Job posting:

    TSS actively seeking community soccer coaches and parents to assist in public relations for our soccer business, in particular if your name happens to be Greg 😉

  24. Neil (Coachrich) says:

    One thing I’ve not seen here yet is to have the youth players help develop their team through player mentoring and social dynamics.

    One of the biggest problems we face as coaches is the constant roll over of players due to the select nature of the system and kids interest. It’s a system I’m somewhat at odds with due to how it’s politically controlled vs development controlled and a failure to understand it’s a player pay structure for program services. As a sport we are not yet providing membership.

    With players coming and going every year, there are ways to help new players become part of the team or family in the case of females 😉 What I have done is after tryout selections, I assign each long term or core players who have moved up or been with the team the longest a new player to mentor into the team. It helps new players and players of different levels become part of the team quicker and socially too. Also, it helps with player security as everyone has a buddy they are looking out for going to the washroom or hanging out with at big tournaments and makes it easier for their parents to share rides and volunteering.


    Gregor’s comments about EP and the CANWNT are very accurate. Further, one of the reasons EP didn’t want to stay was that the CSA wasn’t willing to move to the next level which was to change the national development model, supporting the existing CANWNT pro players and the constant fight over funding. Note, EP had 2 jobs, one as head coach and one as TD of the female program but the CSA only supported him as the head coach.

    When CM (Carolina Morace) came onboard she was limited to head coach of the WP but she had asked for and got certain commitments from the CSA about moving the program forward. She knew as much as EP knew that time had run out on the female game of direct play. The only way to support a change was to change the national development model so the existing CANWNT which the core is based on players in the 1980-1985 age range can be gently rolled over. Most CANWNT pro players were being better provided for in Euro pro leagues plus those already in the WPSL. The funding battles raged on even though the CANWNT is funded on a majority bases from restricted funds outside of the CSA (COC, Sports Canada, Own the Podium) Also, program struggles between the CSA and Morace over programs that were approved by the restricted fund sources as being good programs ie: training in Europe to have access to the resources and teams there.

    The killer for CM was the over hyping of the team’s potential in the press against the rest of the global game. There was a HUGE misunderstanding that Canada was competitive against nations that had been developing a technical passing game in a pro and semi-pro model leagues for decades where Canada has zippo. The closet Canada came to getting a model like the other nations was at the end of EP era when there was a majority funded offer to make the CANWNT into a WPSL team so the players could stay together rather than playing out of Canada. CSA said no. CM’s comments about a Canadian women’s league or a team in the WPSL where not out of the blue but based on common knowledge of one of the key problems of Canada.

    The CM and player issues with the CSA where not major problems as they are consistent problems within the CSA and have been since the EP era. The player issues of commitment with no compensation will come to a head again shorlty.

    For John Herdman (JH), the success of EP era insured the funding for the CM team which they enjoyed and same will be true for the success of CM era for JH’s era. Outside of funding, JH will have the same problems as EP and CM due to the CSA and how Canada lacks a similar development model to other countries. Thankfully the club levels in Canada aren’t waiting on the CSA but someone still has to connect the dots. Player compensation for appearances will be a big issue as other nations continue to support their players and programs better.

    Even though Canada is home to the FWWC in 2015 it will be hard to get and pay for teams to come to Canada for friendlies. Why? the host pays.but the time involved and travelling is the real killer for anyone outside of NA. The other nations in the global game have their players playing 12 months solid like the men. They are either in a league or playing for the national side. More importantly the players are embedded in pro development/academy programs that are inside pro men teams clubs or extensions. ie: Germany this past run up didn’t even bother coming out to travel. The French team in the end was composed of Olympique Lyons players with a couple of other players from the next best French pro team.

    The FWWC 2011 success of the Nadeshiko (Japan) took decades of development for their players in the JFA and pro leagues elsewhere . They like other global nations changed their national development system decades ago to have all the dots connected from bottom (youth) to pro/semi-pro to NT’s. Canada OTOH hand just continues to be segmented due to self interest and lack of leadership over some basic sports structure organization challenges that makes it hard to connect the dots let alone give paying players and their families value for their money.

    There are great coaches and others with great comments here on the MMC who make changes on the field too. It’s refreshing to see some of the dots coming together even though the bigger challenge is a national model. Well done 🙂

    • Gregor says:

      I still contend that connecting those dots needs to involve an acceptance that a lot of kids play the game who have no desire to be one of the dots. We have a large base of recreationally minded players who have no desire to haul themselves up a development ladder until they get to national team territory. To that end, having a club structure that’s more like the American one with a clear division between recreational club and elite clubs withe “travel teams” would be a step in the right direction.

      Both these groups need support in various ways but the level, intensity and type of support is quite different.

      • RR says:

        Good points, Gregor. I find the “all in one pot” philosophy doesn’t most players well.

        For some, soccer is a pastime, and for others it’s a pursuit. Both constituent groups need to be fostered from an early stage if the sport is to grow as a recreational activity, and if quality players are to be developed. I would hasten to say that I believe there should also be a certain degree of “permeability” between the divisions — allowing those who develop later the opportunity to cross over onto the “elite” side, should they so wish to enter the more competitive sphere — and vice-versa, of course.

        The questions that springs to mind are:
        1) Are there any clubs in the Lower Mainland that have explicitly pursued the American model? Do you know what their experience with it has been thus far?
        2) Does the BCSA mandate precisely how soccer programming is to be delivered by its member clubs/associations? i.e. Are the CSA/BCSA open to this American model idea?

  25. Neil (Coachrich) says:

    Gregor and RR,

    Dots –

    Let’s clarify that for me connecting the dots in Canada is about amateur paid programming (not for profit and profit entities) that services both the Elite or High Performance and Rec verticals/depth and width of the sport. Also they should be of both genders, not age and geographic restrictive.

    IMO for the sport to separate at the paid programming at the level HP from Rec is the wrong development model. Without full service paid programming the developmental funnel is too shallow and narrow especially when it involves child and youth that are still maturing mentally, getting their social roots and physically developing. The current landscape we have has all to do with programs and nothing to do with sports clubs. Basically the sport is a community sports program rather than city or metro cities sports clubs. Academies and schools are a limited exception due to Rule 23, their limited player pools and access to leagues but note in Toronto they have their own leagues and are OSA members.. Soccer in Canada at the amateur level does not have a club structure and it’s one of the many reasons we succumb to petty politics, wallow in development due to lack of experience and have no sports culture for families to make life time choices to commit to clubs and the sport.

    Further a basic principle of successful sports development is to have a deep and wide membership and to run it like a sports business. Districts have too many clubs in such a small geo footprints, have clubs that are just Metro/Selects, clubs that are one gender or age restrictive and separate amateur clubs for BCPL . It all points to and reeks of politics, duplication, poor use of funding resources, hiding subsidies and etc. The worse is for the families who for decades have gotten poor service for their dollar and no consumer choices (academies, schools and BCPL being the exceptions)

    America Model –

    The America model can’t work in Canada for the simple reason of how sports in Canada are funded by various levels of government in exchange for the power given to the NSO by the government who only wants 1 NSO for each sport. This power gives the NSO the right to only deal with 1 PSO for each province or territory and to restrict the membership to a very limited group or family of who they can control. Add to that the lack of players numbers and the American model is unreachable.

    Sports Canada SFAF / Summer sports NSO Eligibility Criteria –

    CSA Member Directory –

    In the USA there are 4 national youth affiliate/member’s (USYS, AYSO, SAYS & USCS) that function under the US Soccer Federation (USSF) which is sort their NSO. These 4 national youth affiliate/member’s also work with Charter State Associations who are members of the USSF as well.

    USSD Organization Structure –

    The USSF ultimately is controlled by the USOC who was given the power to do so under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (Ted Stevens Act). The Ted Stevens Act was codified and enacted as US law in 1998 to protect the rights of amateur athletes in amateur sports organizations. The Ted Stevens Act covers amateur athletes from the very bottom right into the US Olympics.

    Ted Stevens Act –

    Besides the Ted Stevens Act, another reasons the USSF system has grown fast in both depth and width is that their membership eligibility for their various levels of governance are quite different than the CSA governance.

    The membership of the Federation is open to all soccer organizations and all soccer
    players, coaches, trainers, managers, administrators and officials without discrimination on the
    basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, or national origin.


    CSA Bylaws of 2010 on page 5 in summary, t’s members are PSO and territories, DI and DII Professional Leagues, Pro or Semi Pro Clubs of a Canadian or other Pro League, Associate Members (Toronto Area Academies) and Life Members.

    – Note if the CSA had the governamce of the USSF, the members of the Alberta Soccer Association could have avoided years of BS in the board room, battling with the CSA and FIFA, going as high as the Alberta Appeals court and almost a million dollars volunteer, parent and kids money flushed down the toilet. Btw the ASA rogue board members were all replaced at a SGM, CSA and FIFA were told they have no standing with the ASA or their members as they are not members of the CSA or FIFA. –

    The success of those US national youth affiliate/members is that they get to run their national youth organizations and more importantly, they get to keep the majority of the player fees that come from players in the clubs, academies, programs and etc in those organizations. ONLY about $1 per player goes to the USSF compared to almost 1/3 or $10 that goes to the CSA from youth players via PSO.. By getting the lions share of the youth players fees these US youth national organizations fund their own structures and develop models that dovetail into the USSF model. USA youth clubs decide which national youth organizations they want to belong to based upon what services suite their members the best.

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