My father told me that he sometimes helped Cramer with translation. He also told me how glad he was that, when he went first to run a training session for Cramer's critique, he set it up by memory. The next coach carried a clipboard with him, prompting an emphatic reprimand from Cramer.
When years later I took a much lower level, entry course -- I wasn't impressed. Flipping through the pages of the curriculum I searched in vain for the word "play" amid the complicated drills the adult coaching students struggled with -- yet were supposed to inflict on 6- and 7-year-olds. I preferred the presentations my club gave, and better yet, talking soccer with Manfred Schellscheidt.
In 2018, however, I was impressed by U.S. Soccer's new Grassroots courses, because they advocated Play-Practice-Play training sessions. I always thought it absurd that children who enthusiastically looked forward to playing soccer would instead be forced into drills -- and have to wait until the end for some real soccer-playing. Like dessert for eating your broccoli. Worst was when the "scrimmage" or any games-to-goal were just a sliver of the practice session.
Having goals set up when the kids arrive and getting the game going as the first ones show up makes kids eager to practice and eliminates the wasted time while waiting for everyone to arrive. When the first player arrives, it's one-on-one with the coach, who can step aside when the fourth arrives. Playing first also enables players to expend some of that pent-up energy from sitting in a classroom all day -- and they'll be easier to guide into a slightly more structured (game-like) activity. Practice finishes with another game.
What's most fun about soccer is what children should spend the most time on at practice and it's never been a secret that great players spent lots of time playing soccer as young children.
The Grassroots Courses, which replaced the F and E licenses and emphasize "learning through play," consist of an online intro, and 4v4, 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11 online and in-person courses. The online introductory module is available in Spanish and the in-person courses are being rolled out in Spanish, jugar-practicar-jugar.
The process to also make them available in Spanish was led by Sammy and Sebastian Geraldo (South Texas Youth Soccer Association), Alex Pavon (Illinois Youth Soccer Association) and Alex Perez (North Texas Soccer Association).
"We're excited to announce these courses, as they will help us reach more coaches and impact more players across the country," U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Education Barry Pauwels said in a press release. "Our goal is that licensed coaches are available for every player in every community. This is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to expanding this initiative in the future."
U.S. Soccer says that the Spanish-language courses will continue to improve with feedback from members across the country. And that the coaching education department "aims to continue growing its courses for Spanish speakers in the coming years."
In the mid-1990s, U.S. Soccer hired coaching instructors to be "liaisons" to the Latino community in what was called "Multicultural Outreach and Development," and offered courses in Spanish. More recently, the F license online course was available in Spanish.
The 20-minute online Grassroots introduction is free, while the four online courses cost $25 apiece. The in-person Grassroots courses range from $25 to $95. They are hosted by U.S. Soccer member associations, which those interested in taking a course should contact. Minnesota Youth Soccer and U.S. Club Soccer are hosting the first Spanish-language in-person courses this month.