Youth Soccer Clubs: It’s a War out there!

Running a Goalkeeper Academy is like working in “Downtown Manhattan” in New York City. People come from all over the city to work in the heart of the Big Apple and parents drive their children up to 100 miles to bring them to my Goalkeeper Academy every Friday. Melbourne, New Smyrna Beach, Daytona, Port Orange, Ormond Beach, Titusville, Sanford, Deltona, Deland, Ocala, Jacksonville, Palm Coast. At this time I train with goalkeepers from 11 different youth soccer clubs.

I always interact with the parents as much as I can, even if at the academy time is short I really do as best as I can. We talk about their development, improvements and what is the next step in their training. Most interactions with the parents is via email or text messaging.

Since I started the Zee Goalkeeper Academy 13 months ago, I have worked with over 70 goalkeepers here in Florida, but also in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina and when it comes down to pointing out the negative of their youth soccer clubs, no matter what state their from, it’s always the same music!

Listening to the parents concerns and complaints is actually very useful, you basically get insights of those clubs without even having to interact with the club it self. However you have to tread softly, in the sense that a very small portion of parents sometimes tend to extend on the facts (and that’s all that is needed to receive diverted facts) and others have heard it from a source that was told by someone that knows someone that is a member of…

You also have to be very careful about what you say to other people in the youth soccer club ring. For example I told a coach here in Volusia county “in confidence” that I recently resigned from a youth soccer club because I found out about a coach that worked for a long period of time with one of the club directors and that coach got himself into a lot of legal trouble. Well, needless to say it got back to them at the club. Not that I care, as it is true (easy to track down on Google) and it is something that they don’t want anyone to know about… But it’s just to prove a point, that “Spicy News” travels fast!

Close by there is a war or words going on between two youth soccer clubs, on one side I hear parents claiming that their club pressed charges against the neighbor club for poaching, while the parents from the other youth soccer club say that the club down south is closing because of low numbers. It’s getting loud, loud enough for other clubs in the area to start talking about it. I’ve been to four clubs this month for clinics and training and that’s all I’m hearing, the war these two clubs are fighting.

Apparently it’s all about one club’s parents bursting rumors about the other club poaching in their back yard. Some parents claim that the first club seems to have proof that the second club sent out mass emails to their players and parents. I never looked into it but many parents have stated they received these kind of emails from the second club.

FYSA in its guidelines states:

Contact outside of the context of tryouts and follow-ups to tryouts could be deemed poaching.

1.1 An e-mail distribution list put together by an individual or association that includes players/families that are registered with another club does not constitute a mass mailing and is prohibited at all times.

1.2 Direct communication by club officials, coaches, and managers with players registered with other clubs to invite players to tryout for a club/team in person via phone, social media, text messaging, or any other method is strictly prohibited.

At the end it could will turn out with a “Whole-lot-of-nada” basically that’s how it always is! But, this is the atmosphere here in the area I live in right now.

But it is NOT just where I live, It’s not just in Central Florida, It’s not just in the Southeast of the nation… It’s all over the country!

I follow and read (without commenting) a very popular soccer forum. The forum is nationwide, from Washington State down to Florida, thousands of daily comments and hundreds of topics, you can find information about thousands of youth soccer clubs. I will stick around and read what people have to say about the “Network” soccer clubs, the branded clubs and yes! Attack, Attack and Attack.

Reading the Region 3 – Florida category there are attacks on Weston, Florida Elite, Coral Springs, GPS… Most of these attacks are also without any hard evidence at all and the direct attacks come from “Unregistered” members. This past Sunday I spent 3 hours reading and giggling while going through these threads, where hundreds of members lash out at one another.

I have said a thing or two in public, but I always make sure that I have the physical evidence to back it up. If you don’t then sit there and watch the others spread the rumors.

This is a sport for children, our children. Since when has it been grounds for an INCORPORATION WAR? I am one of them that believes that a local soccer club belong to the city and to the children of that city. The city council should also have a permanent member on the soccer club board, so that the city knows what is going on at all times “inside” the club. I don’t believe or trust incorporations and big mergers, in most cases they bring higher fees and unhappy parents/players.

YOUTH SOCCER is not about administrative dominance in your area. If you want to dominate do it on the field, let the children and the coaches do their thing! Some Soccer-incorporations claim to be the best youth soccer club in their state, then they lose 5-1 at home against a small town club and end up last in most of the tournaments they participate in.

All clubs that don’t put development first should close down, coaches that think more about how much they can earn at this or that club, need to get on the next flight available and go home!