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ON THE WEB: Arizona youth soccer over the top
December 24th, 2008 8AM

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Phoenix New Times reporter John Dickerson provides a long expose on the state of youth soccer in Arizona. The warm weather provides year-round opportunities for youth soccer, and the state's recent growth has fueled a cottage industry that feeds off the youth soccer boom. At the heart of the problem are over-the-top coaches and an obsession with college scholarships, particularly on the girls side. For Dickerson's report and what organizers, parents, coaches and players have to say ...

Arizona Club Soccer Produces Scholarship-Backed Players, but At What Cost?

"It's ridiculous. It's jealousy. Those parents pay all that money, and they want to be the best because they're paying all that money. As a parent, you get obsessive, I think," he says. "When I see somebody saying a 10-year-old kid shouldn't even be on the field, that's going too far. These parents are way too competitive."

-- Alec Gefrides
, director of the Ahwatukee Foothills Soccer Tournament.

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"In my opinion, youth soccer has gotten out of control. It's become a cottage industry. My other girl is going to [a tournament in San Diego] this weekend. We're being forced to stay in certain hotels, pay more than we would at other hotels. We have to prepay for three nights, no matter if we stay there or not."

-- Jim Dougher on the commitment to tournaments that drive the costs of travel soccer to $8,000 to $12,000 a year.

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"Some of these people - who usually talk with an accent by the way - are supposed to be God's answer to coaching. That is the biggest joke in the world. They come to this country and have an opportunity to make money. And they're just waiting for the next check to come."

-- Arizona youth coach Hugh Bell on foreigners attracted to Arizona youth soccer because of the money to be made in coaching.

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"Now I see more pressure from parents to get scholarships. A guy approached me in the gym and asked if the So Cal Blues helped prepare me for a scholarship. I was like, 'Yeah, they helped.' Then I found out in the stream of the conversation that his daughter was 9 years old. I was just blown away."

-- Former Arizona State player Kyleyn Felts on the increasing obsession with soccer scholarships.



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