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
Thomas Rongen returns to grassroots
by Mike Woitalla, April 3rd, 2014 10:20PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

Interview by Mike Woitalla

Thomas Rongen has been head coach of four MLS teams, coached the USA at four U-20 World Cups and is featured in a recently released documentary, "Next Goal Wins," about his stint as coach of American Samoa. He has returned to the youth game at the grassroots level with Florida's Treasure Coast Soccer League as Technical Director.

SOCCER AMERICA: Tell us about your new position …

THOMAS RONGEN: The Treasure Coast Soccer League is relatively small league trying to make some headway. We’ve created a Development Pathway League.

It’s a hybrid with rec and comp players to establish competition locally where players [8 to 16] can further develop at their own rate without having to travel long distances.

SA: It does seem that in American youth soccer even very young players often spend more time in the car getting to a game than they spend playing in the game …

THOMAS RONGEN: Exactly. The Development Pathway League really makes sense because we’re in a fairly remote area. We play all the games at one particular site, at one of the league’s clubs, each weekend, almost a festival kind of thing.

This keeps the players in their comfort zone, gives the rec players a little taste of comp, against opponents that are quality.

The games are competitive but in a positive playing environment where the emphasis is on development – not results, not standings. We’ve seen positive feedback from coaches, administrators and players.

We’re trying to make the game more affordable and make the experiences more positive -- and have a better training-to-game ratio.

SA: You’re also charged with educating coaches. What do you teach them?

THOMAS RONGEN: It’s very simple. First and foremost, we want this to be a positive experience. We want the coaches to set good examples. What we see here in an area where soccer isn’t predominant -- we lose a lot of players at ages 12, 13, 14 to other sports.

We want to make sure that this is an enjoyable experience. That this is fundamentals and we stress F-U-N more than anything else. I talk about creating an environment where players can express themselves, not a lot of coaching, let the game be the teacher.

We’ve got a variety of novice coaches and some with experience, but the coaching clinics are simple, geared toward a holistic development of players based on individual skill development, ball mastery, small-sided games.

SA: Having coached so long in the pros and at the international level, what’s it like to return to the grassroots?

THOMAS RONGEN: I’m an educator by trade. I studied at the Central Institute of Education Sports Leaders in Holland where Louis van Gaal, Dick Advocaat and also Guus Hiddink came from.

It produces coaches for the highest level and coaches who really enjoy educating at the grassroots level. I really derive a lot of enjoyment out of that.

Saying that, if there is an opportunity to return to higher levels I’d be interested because I get antsy, I love to travel, and I can be as competitive as anyone. But this is a nice phase where I can go back to my roots and teach again.

(Thomas Rongen left his native Netherlands in 1979 to play in the old NASL. He coached MLS teams Tampa Bay Mutiny, New England Revolution, D.C. United, Chivas USA and most recently served as Toronto FC Academy Director. His two stints as U.S. U-20 coach included four World Cups, including a quarterfinal finish in 2007 in which the USA beat Brazil en route to the quarterfinals with a team that included current senior national team players Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Tony Beltran.)


2 comments
  1. Xavi Hernandez
    commented on: April 4, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.
    What a great idea, I hope it takes off.
  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: April 4, 2014 at 3:19 p.m.
    It does sound like a good idea. Much youth club soccer in this country is for rich families who can afford all the time & travel. Rongen seems so wise, I wonder why he can't hold a job. Seems to change every year.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Should new refs be identified -- like in driver's ed?    
There are hundreds of soccer referee certification clinics held across the United States every year. Sadly, ...
Tab Ramos on new rules, U.S. progress, MLS and youth clubs     
Tab Ramos, a U.S. Hall of Famer whose playing career included three World Cups, is entering ...
Modernized NSCAA coaching courses have a touch of Mike 'Bert' Berticelli    
It was circa 1991 and I was a young high school teacher and coach in South ...
Boys Development Academy expands again -- adds U-15 division     
The U.S. Soccer Boys Development Academy, which launched in 2007 with two age groups, will be ...
Q&A with U.S. Soccer's top coach educator Nico Romeijn: On teaching the coaches    
The U.S. Soccer Federation hired Nico Romeijn of the Netherlands in June of 2015 as its ...
Troy Dayak leads thriving West Coast SC after 16 years of pro ball    
A hard-nosed defender during his 16-year pro career, mostly with the San Jose Earthquakes with which ...
Washington Youth Soccer reinstated by U.S. Youth Soccer    
In November, Washington Youth Soccer announced its aim to register its players solely with the U.S ...
The Best of 2016 in American Youth Soccer    
It wasn't all smooth sailing for American youth soccer in 2016. The turf wars between governing ...
Newcomers to USA get a boost from Soccer Without Borders: Meet founder Ben Gucciardi    
Ben Gucciardi is the founder of Soccer Without Borders, which is entering its second decade of ...
A major schism: U.S. Youth Soccer strikes back at Washington state for seeking sole USSF registration    
In response to Washington Youth Soccer announcing its quest to register its players solely with the ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives