Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Clubs Face Major Transformation
June 7th, 2007 11:30AM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys

MOST COMMENTED

By Jim Paglia

Youth clubs try to generate revenue to support their ambitions by appealing to players whose families are willing to pay higher fees. The competition for players and in some cases, "warm bodies," is exposing a major chink in youth soccer armor.

Club soccer is finding some growth through mergers and acquisitions. That path is likely to reveal that as clubs get larger, they become more like their competition rather than distinctive. Make no mistake - youth soccer is now big business. Some club administrators and directors of coaching have become wealthy from youth soccer. Revenues derived from youth soccer fund real estate acquisitions, indoor facilities, and major sports complexes.

I am not criticizing the fact that people have found ways to profit from their passion. My concern is how the profit motive affects the way clubs evolve. Some "elite" and "premier" teams exist to fuel revenue growth and to cater to parents whose egos insist their child play on a team of distinction.

It is my experience that teams that would have a hard time earning a "B" classification a few years ago are overrunning the highest level of play. Clubs justify the formation and placement of these teams by suggesting that "playing up" as a unit will make them stronger players. They contend the drubbing these teams take against legitimate elite or premier teams is a temporary condition overcome in a couple of years.

The launch of U.S. Soccer Development Academy sounds like a long overdue antidote.

U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) will rightly segregate the elite players, and provide them a reasonable training schedule. Although I have always been a critic of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) system, the USSDA should open the ranks to more children at the ODP level, and perhaps it will lead to the needed overhaul there.

I anticipate a "trickle down" affect to all this. USSDA is now the elite player territory. Non-USSDA clubs must create an experience that relies on something other than the promise of national prominence. I interact with many club presidents, coaching directors, and key administrators. Repeatedly, they state club goals in two ways - "To compete for national championships," and "To move the club to the 'next level." By today's standards, the "next level" usually means membership enrollment (revenue), won/loss records, and highly paid coaches/trainers.

These goals speak more to coaching and revenue ambitions than to the development of club programs. While many clubs will continue to seek this type of recognition, it will be clear they are doing so without the most elite players.

Revenue drives soccer clubs today despite claims of "for the love of the game." The challenge for any business is running it in a way that distinguishes it from its competition. Leaders of most soccer clubs are finding distinctiveness is not their expertise. They continue to chase the false prophets of "win more" and "recruit better" instead of delivering a unique experience to their members.

USSDA will separate the truly premier clubs from the "want to be." This puts enormous pressure on clubs that are not part of the USSDA program to do a better job of creating a meaningful experience for members who now clearly do not play at the highest level. The majority of players, parents, and volunteers fall into this category.

Clubs that address member satisfaction, and exceed expectations in stakeholder experiences are more likely to survive the shakeout that I predict will occur. Players and parents will express their loyalty to a club's brand for reasons beyond elite status, salaries paid to staff, won/loss records, or trophies acquired.

Jim Paglia is a nationally recognized brand strategist who lives outside Chicago. He has an extensive background in soccer ranging from the NASL, to NCAA Division I, to World Cup 1994, and 30 years of club administration and coaching.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Friedel's revamped U.S. U-19 men lift Slovakia Cup    
The U.S. U-19 men's national team, coached by Brad Friedel, beat Russia, 2-1, to win the ...
How refs work with assignors    
Assignors are the people who give referees their schedules. Depending on the league, some assign the ...
U.S. U-16 boys beat Brazil    
The U.S. U-16 boys national team, after opening the 13th Tournament Delle Nazioni with a 2-1 ...
Omid Namazi has done it all in coaching: indoors, women, Iran, now U.S. U-18s    
Omid Namazi, who took charge of the U.S. U-18 men's national team in January, started his ...
Toronto kid helps U.S. U-17s beat Canada    
The U.S. U-17 boys national team hosted Canada for two friendlies in Fort Lauderdale and won ...
What makes a player push through adversity?    
He was this player of mine who wasn't particularly talented. In fact, he barely made the ...
Road-trip games for a fun journey    
Whether your child plays select or recreation soccer, chances are good that in the next six ...
Benefits of heading ban are clear to see    
I have now refereed and watched several games since the elimination of heading for children 10 ...
Historic game against Iran awaits U.S. U-16 girls    
The U.S. U-16 girls national team, at the 1st International Women's Tournament of Gradisca in Italy ...
Is FIFA protecting or impeding Mexican-American players?    
Mexican clubs heavily scouting the USA for Mexican-American talent has been one of the greatest developments ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives