I had the chance to read a great article from the GoalNation website - it reinforces our philosophy that we win when we properly develop our athletes..
Based on an interview with Mark Wotte, a Dutch football manager and ex-professional. After a series of injuries ended his playing career in the Eredivisie, he moved into coaching - his career has seen him manage in Holland, England, Egypt, Romania and Qatar. He also served as the first Performance Director of the Scottish Football Association, implementing several ground-breaking changes to their development scheme.
While the conversation was centred on youth soccer in America, so many of the discussion points are relevant to the Canadian experience.
Below are a few important excerpts from his interview with Diane Scavuzzo:
What is the biggest problem with youth development?
Inconsistencies with "Infrastructure (Club structure, youth league set up and proper facilities), Accessibility (Every kid should be able to play soccer all year round), Philosophy of the Game (Consistent philosophy and developmental approach), Level of Coach Education (Creating lots of soccer teachers to ‘educate’ all level coaches and drive the desire to learn)."
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
To make people realize that developing players takes time and a plan. One of the most prolific differences in my opinion is the approach regarding educating young kids to become world-class players. It takes a 15-year development plan for every kid with the right coaching during the ages and stages.
What is needed?
Coaches need to "develop the right technical skills and train the football brain to increase decision making. Developing intelligent, balanced and technical players who are ready to adapt step-by-step to develop to their maximum potential. There is a need to create more quality football teachers who are able to drill the skills but also train the brain - it is essential for success. There is too much emphasis on the physical development, this will follow consequently when the kids become mature and specialized training can be added at that stage.
Focusing on Individual technical training and all kind of small sides games (4 v 4 and 7 v 7) is not only smart but successful. It ensures that the players are also enjoying soccer as this is a lot of fun for the kids. Focusing on Best v Best from the age of 11 and 12 yeas of age accelerates development in a natural way. It is important that youth players are guided by soccer coaches with the right psychological and pedagogical knowledge how to teach that age group.
The Scottish United Soccer Club's development-first focus is aligned with progressive philosophies such as Mark Wotte and countless other soccer teachers, coaches and administrators. It is important we keep our decisions centred on the needs of our athletes.