As some of you may know, I recently started a Futsal Academy. The academy, KP Futsal, was set up to create interest in Futsal in the community and to improve the soccer skills and game intelligence of soccer players. There are only a handful of Futsal Academies in the US so I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. About 60% of soccer coaches today in the US do NOT know what Futsal is, amazing I know, considering it’s one of the best tools to improve soccer skills.
I knew that educating soccer coaches, players, and parents would be difficult based on the popularity of Futsal in the US. However what I learned today was very depressing. I have started to put together a few teams with skilled players that can compete in the newly formed Futsal Premier League. I did not want to just collect money from players and show up with any team. I want to train a good group of motivated kids and have a good base to compete in league play. There are no Futsal teams in my area, so none of the kids are committed to Futsal for the summer.
The first thing I did was contact a few players that are very good and I knew personally. I started with 3 players. Futsal is only 5 v 5 so we don’t need many substitutes. After getting 3 good players, I set out to recruit a few more at the local soccer fields.
I then sent an email out to all of the soccer coaches in the area and explained to them that I may speak with one or more of their players. I tried to do the right thing by explaining that the Futsal academy was not associated with any club and poaching players was never a goal. I also offered postings for coaches who were interested in coaching with the Futsal Academy. The goal was to work together with all the clubs in the area to create the best teams to compete in the Futsal Premier League.
I saw a very good player and gave a flyer to the parents about Futsal. I didn’t want to recruit until I spoke with the soccer coach personally. The following day I contacted the coach and explained the Futsal Academy. That it would help the player with game intelligence, quicker feet, and movement off the ball. I explained that the Futsal Academy would not interfere with any of his soccer training and/or club season. I explained my goals again about uniting the clubs and creating a Futsal Academy and why it was important to work with all the clubs.
The answer from the soccer coach is what led me to write this article. He explained that his club was tired of losing players to teams in the area. He said that he would not be discussing anything with the player because he didn’t want to lose the player. Although I appreciated his honesty, I could not help but feel disappointed. Not because the soccer coach wouldn’t speak on my behalf, because I can always reach out to the player and family myself, but because it reminded me of how soccer coaches and clubs hold players back so that they can look good as soccer coaches and clubs.
The clubs and soccer coaches, who should be advocating and promoting player development with players, are willing to hold players back so that they can benefit. They look at players as numbers and dollar bills. They may find programs or services that can help the player reach new heights, but soccer coaches are willing to hide these tools from players for fear of losing them. How selfish is this? Think about how many players have been hindered because the parents don’t know any better and the soccer coach refuses to actually help this player so that they can keep them. And I have seen this over and over again.
In case you are wondering, I have personally sent players from my smaller club to a larger club where I thought the player would flourish and I can prove this. Why have I done this? Because I know it’s about the player, not the club or soccer coach. The players give everything they have for the club and the parents pay for their child to play there. Why do soccer coaches feel like they own these players? Why aren’t coaches and clubs actually serving their players like the loyal customers that they are? The best players pay the same fees that the bench players pay, yet these skilled players make your team look really good. These players are repaid by thwarting their soccer player development.
I was upset, but again very grateful that the coach was honest with me. I know his fear is real and it demonstrates what the priorities of the club are. Clubs are fighting over kids, not because they want to serve them, but because they want to look good with wins and grow the bottom line. The truth is that the more kids in a club, the more money it is generating. What’s the big deal with this? Well clubs in other countries are actually developing players, that’s their main priority. They want to develop a player to play on the first team and they will do whatever it takes, including exposing the players to new ways of training.
I hope parents realize what is happening in the “club scene”. Unfortunately many of them have very little soccer player development knowledge and are being taken advantage of. This is sad not only for the parents and the kids, but for the soccer community as a whole. How can we ever create world class players when everyone is trying hide them from from each other in fear of losing them?
My E-book on player development for parents will be coming out soon. If you would like a free copy, send me an email.