How would you spend $100 million to grow the game of soccer?
It was recently announced that the US Soccer Federation has upwards of $100 million sitting in the bank. Most of that is from the profit of last summer’s Copa America Centenario. It appears that most of the money will be spent on a national training facility, as reported by Sports Illustrated.
Our LeagueApps FC team has four ways ideas on how to spend that $100 million to improve the game.
Invest in Parent Education
One of the biggest pain points of club directors and coaches is finding ways to communicate and educate parents better. Director of Soccer Bryan Alcantara believes that an investment in communication and education tools for parents will help long-term growth for player and club development.
“Things like sideline behavior, rules of the game, and player pathways can be easily taught en masse through technology,” he said. “There can be an open dialogue and more transparency for parents to learn how certain programs are doing in respect to advancing their athletes on to the next levels.”
“It’s not about wins, losses, or trophies for kids under the age of fourteen,” Soccer Partnership Consultant Brian O’Hara added. “It’s so important to inform parents that it’s about learning to play in the right way and develop all aspects of players’ games.”
More Field Space for Clubs and Town Programs
Some of the best soccer in the country comes from the grassroots level. US Soccer could really benefit long term by allocating funds to clubs and town programs to build field space that is accessible to everyone of all ages.
Many European countries have seen considerable success in building both outdoor fields and mini-pitches. As an added bonus, programs will now have more access to players that they may not have before by creating a safe area for young athletes to play.
Support Club Development
US Youth Soccer has already developed a player curriculum for clubs, but there doesn’t seem to be any real way of enforcing it. An easy solution to this, according to Bryan, is to give clubs access to best practices.
“Start by creating how-to’s on running a club’s administration and business operations,” Bryan said. These can be easily shared through digital media and other technological infrastructure that eases the burden of management. “After that, the focus can shift toward making realistic expectations for parents of players, creating less sideline chaos, and installing a larger respect for referees.”
An incentive program for model clubs would also help long-term growth. Rather than using win/loss record as a benchmark, things like participation, attendance, player development, and scholarships granted can be used. And of course, it’s easier to get the club’s parents on board through communication and education.
Subsidize Coaching Education and Licenses
“Without a doubt, US Soccer needs to spend more money on coach and referee education,” Soccer Development Specialist Alex Weaver said. “Improvement in those areas will improve the level of play in youth soccer.”
There are some gaudy numbers to support Alex’s claim. According to the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, the dropout rate increases fivefold by players who are not coached by a trained coach versus those who are. An investment will not only improve gameplay at the grassroots level, but it will increase participation rates as players get older.