As the soccer community has grown, the Comox Valley United Soccer Club has responded with positive initiatives aimed at the development of players and coaches.
The United Development Program is piloting a Competitive Stream for keen players younger than the normal age for select soccer.
Part of the pilot is redefining the notion of competition.
“We want to encourage a competitive mindset, and sometimes that means giving them tasks on the field where they can battle it out and be successful regardless of the score,” says Jeff Howe, VP of Development for the club. “As coaches, we need to instil in these [youngsters] our own competitive mindset and notions for what it means to strive against our competition.”
Another side to the pilot strongly reflects the professional development side of the UDP which is mentoring coaches.
Recently, 97 players from U10 to U13 gathered on the Highland fields for the club’s first internal jamboree.
With a wide range of ages and experiences there is a risk that games can be lopsided. Younger players battled older players, girls battled boys, teams were split up and reassembled to do battle with one another, all in the name of setting up truly competitive matches. Players were encouraged to take on specific targets for their own performances and give it everything they had to accomplish their own tasks. Each player experienced the struggle and sense of accomplishment that comes from competition. Twelve games were played, stations for skill development were set up around two playing pitches, youth officials called the matches, and parents encouraged and supported the action at both ends of the pitch.
It was a positive start to the club’s new pilot initiative, the UDP Competitive Stream.
Players tried out and were selected for the pilot program in June. It is meant to provide keen players between U10 and U11 with a focused training program, easing the transition into select soccer. The program is not just about the kids, though, as coaches are introduced to the select stream of soccer and the nuances of managing a program with longer term goals. Further, parents are introduced to a more competitive environment and how best to recognize and support the needs of their children. These threads coming together in this new pilot mean we need to be clear on what it means to train for and experience competitive soccer.
“In the end, we are looking to develop players who have a true sense of what a great competitor does. They work hard to improve themselves, they work hard to improve the players around them, and they work hard to improve the game. In its most basic sense, a great competitor will strive with their competition to improve their performance,” a CVUSC spokesperson noted.
“We want the players to embrace the notion of competition as a mindset that strives for improvement, recognizes success, embraces failure as a tool for learning, and celebrates the smaller and bigger sides of accomplishment,” says Tony Dickson, VP of select for the club. “What the UDP has done here is amazing, and I think right on track.”
The next big jamboree is scheduled for the Labour Day weekend. Details will be posted at www.cvusc.org.
– Comox Valley United Soccer Club