Starting this year, the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association (KYSA), in accordance with a BC Soccer directive, will not be publishing scores or keeping standings in its under-11 and under-12 divisions.
This directive is a mistake.
Here are a few of the arguments for the directive, taken from a memo sent to KYSA members: It diminishes the incentive for coaches to concentrate solely on winning; it reduces the pressures placed on young players by coaches and parents to win, to perform and to avoid making mistakes; coaches will pay more attention to giving more equal playing time to all the children on their roster, rather than playing their better players all the time; and it may reduce the verbal abuse officials receive from coaches.
It appears many of the problems that led to the BC Soccer directive, which brings the organization in line with the Canadian Soccer Association’s (CSA) Long Term Player Development model, have to do with one thing — idiot coaches.
At those age levels, bench bosses shouldn’t be concentrating solely on winning, their players should be seeing equal playing time and they should not be abusing officials.
Agreed, but I’m not sure taking standings out of the game is going to correct the problems.
(I skipped the part about pressuring players to win, perform and avoid mistakes because I think athletes at that age should be pushed, to varying degrees based on their goals, to do each of those things).
But, if you ask me, league titles and championship victories should not be taken out of the game in those age divisions.
That hurts player development.
Young soccer players in Canada need to know it’s OK — in fact, it’s imperative — to make winning a goal.
They also need to learn about the agony of defeat in big-time matches.
I’ve lost a lot of big games (see Earl Marriott Mariners vs. Semiahmoo Totems high school rugby Sandcastle Cup grudge matches, 0-2) and, believe it or not, I’ve racked up the occasional W, too.
It’s impossible to understand how much an athlete can learn from each situation — a massive victory or a crushing defeat in a championship-deciding matchup — until you’ve been on both sides.
Some of the best coaching moments are borne when the final whistle blows — especially when games really matter, like when a league banner is on the line.
How do you handle the anguish of defeat? How do you win graciously? How do you better handle the pressure next time around?
There are at least a few KYSA parents who agree with me. They went so far as to unregister their children. I wouldn’t have done that, but they felt so strongly about competitiveness that they took a stand.
The directive nixes the presentation of trophies and medals in those divisions.
Here’s another piece of the KYSA memo: “We are concerned about how this initiative might affect our KYSA Cup entries in May. Will teams be prepared to travel great distances to come to Kamloops to participate in a “Jamboree-like format” with nothing at stake?”
After speaking with a high-ranking member of the KYSA brass, I understand it’s simply impossible to weed out all the idiot coaches.
The KYSA cannot force its parent-volunteers to go through coaching-certification programs (even if it did, I’m not sure that would keep idiot coaches off the sidelines) and, like in many minor sports, there is a dearth of people able to take control of a team.
It’s either have idiot coaches or have no coaches at all and, therefore, no team, which is unacceptable. The kids need to play.
So, what’s the solution? I don’t pretend to have the all-encompassing, ingenious answer, but some of it might have to do with non-idiot parents being vigilant, keeping their idiot coaches in line.
If you notice your team’s idiot coach playing the heck out of the best players, focusing only on winning or yelling at referees — report it.
I’m sure that’s happening already, but maybe some folks have been shy in the past about voicing their concerns. Now is the time.
Again, I’m well aware this is a very, very complicated issue and there’s more to it than what I’ve discussed.
I just don’t think the CSA — our men’s national team is ranked 113th in the world and hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986 — needs to crack down on competitiveness which, despite what its board members will tell you, is exactly what this directive does.
The Tattle of Hastings appears in KTW on Thursdays. Email Marty Hastings at email@example.com