Soccer is Changing in Kemptville

Soccer Is Changing In Kemptville

For many years now Canadians have enjoyed the summer sport of soccer. A masterfully complex game at the highest levels also transcends to a beautifully simple game at the youngest age groups. No elaborate equipment required, just a ball and some friends. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the warm summer heat on your skin and hear the laughter of your kids playing. There really isn’t a better sound in the world than children having fun.

Somewhere along the path we took a detour. To be honest, I’m really not sure where and we probably thought we were doing the right thing at the time. Suddenly playing sports became less about recreation and more about winning the trophy. Coaching teams turned into which coach had the better game system with the bigger kids so we could beat the other ten year olds. We opted for high percentage scoring opportunities instead of skill development. We decided that yelling at the referee was supporting our team and dismissed it as being passionate about the game. We thought that it wasn’t enough our nine year olds played six months of the year but they needed to play one sport all year to become better. We thought we were doing the right thing.

Fast forward to our performance on the world stage and you start to realize maybe we weren’t doing the right thing. Our Men’s national team has qualified for the World Cup once for Mexico in 1986. Countries with similar success from our division; Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica. The men’s side are currently on the quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and although having what most consider the easiest path we’ve had to qualification, there is still some trepidation that we won’t make it out of this round in favour of Panama and Honduras. Flip over to the Women’s national team. Granted they are higher ranked than the men’s, the end results have been equally disappointing. The squad qualified to play the recent 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany only to finish dead last in the tournament. A glimmer of hope presented itself at the regional Olympic qualifying tournament, but then they were decimated by the American squad and finished second. Going into the London Summer Olympics the women have their work cut out for them.

Soccer is changing, as is every other sport in North America. In 2008 the Canadian Soccer Association published a document called Wellness to World Cup. It was a detailed analysis of the current state of soccer in our country, a comparison to our peers and global best practices, as well as a framework for our Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model. At the time it was globally recognized as the standard for Long Term Player Development models.

We are now entering the next phase and implementing LTPD. As a parent you are going to hear lots of new terms like developmental age, Soccer for Life, Active Start, Development League, guided discovery, and age appropriate. You will see more emphasis on letting the children enjoy the sport and fostering creativity. You will see less of the competition mentality and more focus on developing all the players.

Among the most visible changes you will notice will be during the Golden Years of Learning for our sport. This represents boys aged 9 to 12 and girls aged 8 to 11 in what’s called the Learn to Train phase of LTPD.

From a league management parents will notice both the Kemptville District Soccer Club and the Eastern Ontario Development League will not focus on scores, league standings, or tournaments. A common argument heard is that kids still know the score, which is more or less accurate. However, the real target for change here is the coaches and parents. All too often we see coaches’ screaming directions from the sidelines and parents yelling opposite instructions to their child. What will become of those talented players when the coach and parents are no longer there? Will they have the necessary tools to make good decisions for themselves when the voices are silenced? We need to foster their creativity and discovery of the game since they are the ones playing it.

From a player standpoint, Kemptville District Soccer Club will launch a new player development program called L2T. The initial launch will be focusing on 8 and 9 year old boys and girls playing in the Under 9 and Under 10 categories. KDSC with the guidance of the Club Head Coach will be running player development sessions for all children registered in these age groups. Sessions will be approximately one hour in length and will be on an opposing night to the player’s regular game nights. Players will be developing skills and building a passion for the game through LTPD strategies.

The end goal of Kemptville District Soccer Club’s strategy is to be player centric by building a long term sustainable organization that allows players the opportunity to be challenged in every age category, develop their skill to the best of their ability, and encourage a lifelong passion for sport and participation. I hope that you join us on this journey for the future of our children.

-- Alan Archer, KDSC Club Head Coach