By Mike Woitalla (From the April 2007 issue of Soccer America Magazine)
LEADERS OF THE NSCAA Black Soccer Coaches Committee hail the increase of black players in mainstream American soccer -- but now await an increase in opportunities for black coaches. Hylton Dayes, the chairman of the BSCC, is the head coach of the University of Cincinnati and a Region II ODP coach.
''I got here in 1982,'' says the Jamaica-born Dayes, ''and I think the African-American, or player of color involvement, has increased ten-fold.''
Forty percent of the 40 players in the U.S. U-17 residency camp in Bradenton are black, including nine from the African immigrant community.
''You look at the percentage of those at Bradenton,'' Dayes says, ''the percentage playing college soccer, the percentage playing in really good club teams, and it's definitely worth noting.''
Besides Caribbean and African immigrants' affinity for the game, organizations like Soccer in the Streets, America Scores and Starfinder have helped spread soccer in the inner cities, says Dayes.
BSCC senior advisor Lorne Donaldson, a former APSL head coach and now director of coaching of the youth club Real Colorado, says youth clubs have made greater efforts to discover talent and scholarship players who can't afford the fees.
''It's so competitive now, the youth clubs are so highly structured and it's such a business now, they're trying hard to find players who can help them win,'' Donaldson says. ''And most of the top clubs are not in the hood, so they even help the players with transportation.''
Donaldson commends the U.S. U-17 coaches who are identifying talent and says that the quality of American coaches has risen to a point where they can overcome the skepticism of African and Caribbean fathers who in the past wouldn't trust their sons with American coaches.
However, Dayes and Donaldson lament the lack of black coaches in the U.S. national team program and in MLS. Not a single black coach has been among MLS's 59 head-coach hirings in 12 years.
Dayes said the BSCC has worked to educate coaches, encouraging them get their licenses, network, and put themselves in a position to get an opportunity -- but frustration is building.
''Look at how many ex-professional players we have in this country of color,'' Dayes says. ''We're talking about qualified coaches who deserve a chance.''
Donaldson says, ''I don't think it's intentional. But I think it's in the subconscious. Year after year we sit around wondering when someone is going to get hired. We've gotten to the point where we believe we have to at least start saying something.''