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Changes Afoot For Youth Soccer

POSTED March 30, 2011 1:29 a.m.

Dear Editor,

The Oakdale Youth Soccer League (OYSL) is in the process of creating a premier soccer academy program, which will undoubtedly produce some of the highest skilled players in the Central Valley. Soccer academies have been in existence for years throughout Europe, and have started to become popular in the United States. The Oakdale Soccer Academy (OSA) will be a developmental program focusing on players under the age of 10 years old. The academy will be run under the guidance of a professional Director of Coaching, who will oversee player and coach development.

The OSA will provide a program that specializes in the development of both competitive and recreational youth soccer players by providing a quality learning environment that focuses on the following:

• Teamwork, gamesmanship, and character development

• The highest level of professional training available in the area

• Clear communication lines between the academy staff and parents

• Promoting passion for the game

While this is a new concept for most parents and players who have been involved with youth soccer programs, this unique program focuses on “playing to learn” instead of “playing to win.” Minimizing the pressure to win in youth sports creates a less volatile atmosphere during games, and ultimately produces the highest skilled athletes. Unfortunately, coaches also feel the pressure to win from parents and their peers, so they tend to make decisions that do not encourage true player development. This typically results in the best players playing all of the time, and the weaker players sitting on the sidelines.

There are several misunderstandings about an academy program. The OSA is not a soccer camp. It is a progressive program where every player will be constantly challenged with weekly training sessions followed by a play date each Saturday. The play dates are small sided games with fewer players on the field ensuring more ball touches by each player. The OSA is not a competitive program. Instead, it provides an excellent training process for players who want to play competitive soccer at a later date, as well as providing a non-threatening environment for players who simply want to learn a little while kicking a ball around.

OYSL will still provide a traditional recreational program for players 10 and older. The real change is taking place at the younger ages where formal player development has been nonexistent. We understand any type of change creates a level of uncertainty for most people. We expect many questions and want to make sure all parents receive answers and detailed information about the OSA. We will have a scheduled parent meeting on April 6, at the Magnolia Elementary School auditorium at 7 p.m. During this time we will have a short presentation about the academy, as well as an open forum for questions. If you are unable to attend the meeting but still have questions, please email coachescoord@oakdalesoccer.org.

The changes the OSA will bring to our soccer program can only benefit the children who participate. If you are interested in registering for the 8-week spring academy, please register online at www.oakdalesoccer.org or at the parent meeting on April 6. The spring league begins on Saturday, April 9.

Bob Crossman

President, OYSL

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