June 07, 2007
What the Future Holds for Youth Soccer

By Mike Woitalla (From the June issue of Soccer America Magazine)

Let's look into the future of American soccer, shall we?

Major League Soccer had been going strong until the coaching shortage, the top guys having moved to youth soccer, because that's where the real money is.

The Dallas Diaper Demons won the first Under-2 U.S. National Championship in a hard-fought victory over the Chicago Crawlers, whose star playmaker was ejected at halftime for tossing his sippy cup at the referee.

"He didn't deserve more than a two-minute timeout!" complained the Chicago coach. "The cup was empty!"

The Dallas coach was unavailable for comment because the Diaper Demons had to catch a flight to the West Coast, where they're competing in the College Coaches Super Showcase Invitational. But the club's director was on hand to praise the new national championship.

"Without the incentive of a national crown," he said, "a lot of these kids would just keep playing rec ball. Then they arrive at our club with all sorts of bad habits that are hard to un-teach when a child is already 3 years old."

In fact, there are few recreational leagues left around the country, having been replaced by Soccer Academies, Soccer Schools and Soccer Factories.

The number of volunteer coaches has dwindled to 18. Some cite the new requirement of completing an 82-hour H license course to coach above the U-5 level. Others credited the demise of the volunteer coach to the good sense of parents who really care and love their children.

"Parents have finally comprehended the fact that it's foolish to trust their children's soccer development to someone they're not paying lots of money," said the director of the Super Star Soccer Factory for Infants & Toddlers, one of the 191,870 professional trainer programs for kids around the nation.

The impact of the booming U.S. youth soccer business has been felt globally. The migration of British coaches to the USA leaves so many UK kids un-coached that Prime Minister Richard Branson has asked the U.S. government to cap H1-B work visas. U.S. Congress responded with a curt "no way," citing a new surge in demand for coaches to fill positions in the rapidly expanding Prenatal Soccer Camp industry.

(This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Soccer America Magazine.)