How to Choose a Soccer Club
by CSC Club Technical Director Marcelo Gangotena
Choosing a Club
Tryouts are around the corner. The new Player Development Initiatives from US Youth Soccer will be implemented, and new age groups will be formed. Kids will be moving around from their existing teams, and parents and players will have to adjust to all these changes. Parents will be forced to make decisions as to where their kids will be playing next Fall. Some may have to choose a new club.
How do I choose a new Club?
The answer used to be as simple as staying close to home and taking into consideration your family's financial situation. Now this decision is getting more and more complicated.
When choosing a club you need to consider different factors:
Every well-organized club should have on its website the Club Mission Statement and Club Philosophy. These should follow the standards of the club's operations.
Leadership (Technical Director, Director of Coaching, Coaches):
This is a major factor to consider. These are the leaders, mentors and role models for your kids. They are going to shape their soccer lives and be a big influence on their regular lives.
Most Clubs now offer coaching education and require that their coaches be licensed, but just because a coach has a license doesn't mean he/she actually has the ability to coach well or run a team effectively. However, by earning a higher license a coach has demonstrated a willingness to continue his/her eagerness for knowledge. This is very critical in the ever-changing world of soccer.
Club Director of Coaching or a Technical Director:
Most organized clubs now have a TD, a DOC, or both. TDs and DOCs are responsible for hiring, training, and overseeing all staff coaches and also making available specialized training (goalkeeper training, strikers training, foot skills) They are responsible for the club's curriculum and its implementation for the different age groups, player and coach evaluations, and player and team selections. The TD or DOC should be highly qualified and have years of experience at all levels.
Depending where you live, families will spend an average of $2,250 to $4,500/yr. at the competitive level and on average of $185 to $325/yr. at the recreational level.
Consider the financial commitment and what those dues and fees cover, and find out any additional charges that will be incurred during the year.
In general a player's fee includes:
Training, games, club dues (administrative, field maintenance, on line registration, background check), and league fees. Some will include coaches' fees and tournaments; some will not.
Many registration fees will not include uniforms (mandatory and/or optional kits), additional training sessions, camps and clinics, additional tournaments, and coaches' expenses when traveling to an away tournament (lodging, miles, per-diem).
Some will offer a county scholarship or club scholarship (with proof of income); some will not.
It is important to know that soccer is getting more popular and more competitive, and some competitions and tournaments will require long distance travel and may include extra training sessions over the two regular weekly sessions.
Find out how many games are on the regular season schedule, along with how many tournaments (when and where), indoor training and games, and State Cup games.
Ask about volunteer and fund-raising requirements that are expected for you and your family. Make sure that the club doesn't ask the parent to pay if the family doesn't participate in these events.
This is self-explanatory and common sense. Find out what the club's reputation is in your community. See what the members say about the club, its professionalism, standards, vision, values, staff credentials, and league competition. Ask other parents about the organization and its coaching staff: do they emphasize wining or do they focus on player development? Do they have a curriculum to follow and is this curriculum in line with the national standards (US Youth Soccer/ US Soccer Federation)? How many players will be on your kid's team? Will your child have a fair amount of playing time or will he/she be a "bench warmer" to fill a roster for financial reasons?
Bigger is not always better. Bigger clubs will have a comprehensive pool of leadership and will attract a larger pool of players to form a larger number of teams, which affects the decision making when it's time for try outs. Larger clubs may tend to lose their focus and leadership can become indifferent and inclined to be divided. From time to time you see teams, coaches and players desert their large clubs and go to smaller clubs that will pay more attention to their needs.
Smaller clubs may be more focused on player improvement and have the ability to offer a more personalized program where you will receive quality over quantity. Smaller clubs can make you feel a part of their community, players will have more opportunities and feel more confident, and they are usually less expensive.
Decide where your child will fit, grow, and learn better, and opt for the club where your child will make a difference.
Try outs are the best time to explore and compare clubs to find which best fits your needs. Put together a chart (A - B - C Clubs), a list of your needs, what you want to see happen with your child, and include the financial commitment.
Plan the Try Outs:
Be prepared to ask lots of questions to Club officials, current members, and coaches. Introduce yourself to everyone.
Make sure your child has all the needed equipment for try outs: soccer shoes, shin pads, socks to cover the shin pads, shorts and a shirt (light colored shirts are recommended), and a soccer ball (size 4 or 5 depending on your child's age).