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The continuous soccer battle between High Schools and Clubs.

I recently read this very interesting article: Youth Soccer "The Battle Lines Seemed To Be Drawn" By Graham Ramsay Maryland Director of Coaching.

For coaches like me, who came from Europe just a few years ago, to understand High Schools soccer reality takes a little time, because, it’s something unknown across the ocean. Sports at High School level is something deeply rooted in American Society. The curious aspect is that a few decades ago, these sports where only American Football and Basketball. The unbelievable explosion of soccer in the new generations, forced the High Schools to open to soccer.

But, even if it’s absolutely true that for foreign coaches it’s a reality that we didn’t know, it’s also true that many American coaches, I said many not all, don’t have the vaguest idea about what a soccer club is, FOR REAL, in the rest of the world!

So, in 8 years, I’ve leaned what soccer at High School level is, by coaching there, and I believe it could be better if the American coaches learn, in their turn, what a soccer club is FOR REAL, otherwise, we continue to perpetuate a great misunderstanding! Please read:

What a soccer club is in the rest of the world (part 1)
What a soccer club is in the rest of the world (2d and last part).
Here and There. Two different ways to create a Youth Soccer Club.

Many American coaches deeply agree that players play to many games, but often they fall into the trap of believing that they play to much because they play at Schools and Clubs. They tend to forget that they play 3 games a week, NOT because they play at High Schools and Clubs. They play 3 games a week, almost never PRACTICING, because that is the CALENDAR of the High School season, that forces them to get injured, by playing 3 or 4 different seasons of sports a year, compressed in an impossible and absurd calendar! This has nothing to do with playing in clubs, too!

Why in this country is there dualism in High Schools and Clubs, only about soccer? Because there are not too many clubs of basketball, volleyball, baseball or football! Obviously, the students play these sports at school or not at all.

The new generations, run away from these other sports that are historically ’American’.

My proposal, so that High School soccer and Clubs don’t collide is, let HS take care of these other sports, and continue to ’pretend’ that they develop the character of the students through sports, and let’s develop soccer at Club level (REAL CLUB LEVEL) even creating Clubs that are under the supervision of the schools so, players will play soccer for real, practicing 3 times a week and playing 1 game a week, in a season that lasts 6 months, playing against traditional clubs, in the same Leagues.


Soccer, like any sport, is supposed to UNIFY people, not create barriers that are only in our minds! (And probably in the bank accounts!!!) How is it possible that the 11 catholic High Schools in San Francisco play soccer in a CATHOLIC SOCCER LEAGUE (just among themselves!!!!) and, in the mean time, form an open, modern, tolerant, and international way of thinking in their students?

Creating real Soccer Clubs in the High Schools, players will play for ONLY ONE SOCCER TEAM, and not 2, if not 3 (a girls keeper that I coached at High School level, plays in 4 teams!!!!!), and will develop their character for real.

They will learn to LOVE the ONLY jersey that they wear.

They will learn to fight for their team, that represents their school, their team mates, their families, their coaching staffs, their little towns or cities, and if they are really good, even their country.

These are values that last forever, and don’t have anything to do with religions, nationalities or the wallet of their parents.

If the HS doesn’t want to create the soccer club inside, they can merge with a real soccer club so, with a name that involves both, the Club and the School, their students will represent the school anyway!

And because I used the word ‘pretend’, referring to the High Schools, I’d like to underline an aspect that all (WE) Americans pretend not to see.

In our country (please notice ‘our’) High Schools offer scholarships to talented soccer players, very often APART from their school grades. Often, means ‘often’ and not always, so don’t jump on me!!!!

I said OFTEN, the schools are only interested in having victorious teams, that win championships, to attract other students and, incidentally, the money of their families and alumni! But they forget to say that they DIDN’T FORM these soccer players. What can you form, with a 2 or 3 month season, with 2 or 3 games a week?? They just BUY them, like the Colleges and Universities will do in the continuation of their academic careers.

The result of this? Ignorant students, that are great goal scorers, basket scorers, touch down scorers and home-run scorers, will have, apparently, an education at the expense of the very smart, but poor, that will become plumbers and electricians (with all do respect for these workers!!) instead of engineers, doctors, and so on.

And, let’s not forget the economic aspect. For millions of parents, to have a scholarship, is the ONLY way to send their sons and daughters to College so, it’s obvious that parents will push them to succeed in soccer or other sports, which permit them to find the few hundred thousand dollars for educating their sons and daughters, forgetting that they are just good in scoring goals.

In life, even if I love soccer, there are other ’goals’ much more important to score! So, tournaments after tournaments in the endless hope to be seen by the right talent scouts who can suggest to them the right schools!

This tournament ‘nightmare’ aspect, was greatly underlined in this NSCAA article:


Tournaments, tournaments, tournaments. They are overwhelming youth soccer in this country. Everyone wants to play in tournaments. Soccer America has an entire issue devoted to tournaments. Every soccer publication in this country lists pages of tournaments for our children to attend! Every year the biggest decision a club team makes is "which tournaments do we attend?" Most clubs have a person or three who do nothing but prepare for tournaments.

Stop the tournaments, I want to get off.
Tournaments are hurting America's soccer playing youth………………


Please continue to read this NSCAA article, by clicking on the link above.

So, as I said, in my opinion, the solution could be creating clubs INSIDE the High Schools, or MERGE with existing Clubs, that play against other external Clubs, without forcing players to play on 2 or 3 teams, and listening to the instructions of 2 or 3 different coaches that, sometimes, are different and deeply in contrast, and will only confuse the players, the rare times that they are practicing.

Coach Gianni
Posted on 27 Apr 2007 by coachgianni
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