Four components of club soccer – Part 1

By Dave Simeone

The growth of club soccer in the United States has surged in recent years. The continued development of clubs and soccer in the club environment is necessary in order to meet the increasing demands of player development. The importance of club soccer is even more magnified when considering that it provides players with their “daily soccer diet”. The four necessary components in club soccer: Organization, Planning and Leadership; Facilities; Staffing; and Programming.

The cornerstone for player development lies within the club system. Club soccer is very similar to other avenues for athletics; interscholastic, intercollegiate.

The components are:

I. Organization, Planning and Leadership

II. Facilities

III. Staffing

IV. Programming

Organization, Planning and Leadership

Clubs must organize themselves to serve the evolving needs of players; their development first and foremost. Take into account that within the club there are a variety of levels and needs. Most importantly it’s not a one size fits all approach. For instance managing the recreational component is an entirely different task than managing under 13 competitive players. The standard is different between recreational and competitive club soccer. The aims and outcomes of the programs also differ.

The organization, planning and administration of a club cannot be detached from the players and the game. Without a firm commitment to serve these needs first a club exists for the sole purpose to collect fees and pay bills.

The mission statement, the vision a club has of itself, should have aims and objectives to organize and structure itself to allow the technical experts (coaches) to operate with autonomy in issues relating to player development, team formation, player selection, try out format and organization, player placement. Coaches should be entrusted with the responsibility to make decisions on the technical and competitive aspects relating to player development. Board members, administrators and parents should understand the scope of their involvement in this partnership. The club’s organization and leadership should openly dissuade board members, administrators and parents from exerting influence or coercion in these issues which serves their own interests.

Planning needs to be comprehensive and includes a business plan and strategic plan in addition to a technical plan for player development. The economics of administering and operating the club should be geared towards achieving the aims and objectives of player development first. Cost effectiveness needs to be evaluated on the impact they have on player development, player participation and player satisfaction.

While the organization of a club must have policies and by-laws it cannot thrive without leadership. The leadership must believe in a long-term commitment to player development rather than “quick fix” for the short term on the fast track. Although clubs differ dramatically on an individual basis the club system, in it’s entirety:

I. Encourages the recruitment of players and parents versus retention and development.

II. Equivocates player development with results (winning/losing).

III. Sacrifices quality for quantity.

The next generation of clubs will be more comprehensive in their organization; a greater emphasis on continuity. This will include clubs based in large numbers of recreational players at younger ages with an opportunity for select programming, competition in older age groups.

Facilities
This includes:

I. Fields, lights, equipment storage

II. Changing rooms, locker rooms, and facilities for cross-training and athletic trainers

III. Clubhouse

Facilities have an impact on programming and also provide a physical home and identity for the club.

Next: Staffing and Programming.

Dave Simeone brings nearly thirty years of coaching and managing experience combined from youth, college, Olympic Development, U.S. National Teams and the National Coaching Schools. Simeone earned his “A” license and National Youth License from U.S. Soccer and the National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

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