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Interview with Kevin Payne, CEO of US Club Soccer
By Ian Goldberg:
If you are anything like me, you get confused by all of the organizations, governing bodies and acronyms in youth sports. But US Club Soccer is worth learning about since they are likely supporting your local soccer club. US Club Soccer is a non-profit organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs in the US with 3,500 member clubs and 500,000 affiliated soccer players. And the best part: they have made Parent Education and Engagement an essential part of their philosophy.
I was thrilled to get some time with their CEO, Kevin Payne, to talk about their new Players First initiative and their emphasis on Parent Engagement (love that). So here are some highlights of our conversation:
IG (iSport360): Hi Kevin, thanks so much for giving us some of your time. First, can you tell us about US Club Soccer and how it is different than the many well-known organizations supporting youth soccer in the US?
KP (US Club Soccer): Sure, US Club Soccer is a National Association member of the US Soccer Federation. We are a non-profit organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs. We believe clubs are the vehicles by which the best players are developed because they have better resources than a stand-alone team. We provide education, training and competitive events.
IG: Can you tell us a little bit about your new Players First initiative?
KP (US Club Soccer): Yes, we recently launched our Players First initiative to bring the youth sports focus back to players. In order to do that we emphasize five basic pillars: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement and Education, and Player Health and Safety.
IG: I’d like to focus this conversation on two topics that iSport360 is most passionate about: Coaching Development and Parent Engagement. So first, can you talk a bit about US Club Soccer’s coaching philosophy?
KP: We believe that most youth soccer coaches have more in common with a classroom teacher than they do with Bruce Arena at the national level. So we encourage them to educate the way teachers would. We are firm believers in the La Liga methodology and we encourage coaches to be lifelong learners. Additionally, we hold coaches to a higher standard. So we are starting to evaluate coaches and clubs to see how well they are meeting our Players First requirements. That includes regular communication with parents and ongoing feedback for the players.
IG: Great transition into a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Parent Engagement and Education. I believe we spend way too much time in this country training, educating and certifying coaches and not nearly enough time educating parents….then they misbehave and everyone is shocked. I’m thrilled that it is one of your five pillars but what are you doing to help educate and engage parents.
KP: We’ve always believed parents play an important role in youth soccer and that is why we have made Parent Engagement and Education an important pillar in our Players First initiative. To start, we always encourage parents to do some homework before they sign up for a club and find out what is the club’s approach to training the kids. Second, we encourage parents to have realistic goals and expectations for their kids and discuss them with their coaches. Third, we are bringing on partners such as the Soccer Parenting Association who provides online courses, eBooks, articles and webinars for soccer parents. Finally, and this is more important now than ever, we encourage parents to support their kids’ coach positively and unequivocally….the same way that parents need to support their kids’ teachers.
IG: Thanks Kevin for your time today. iSport360 is absolutely committed to Players First and helping you Educate and Engage Sports Parents in a positive way.
Ian Goldberg is the Founder and CEO of iSport360, a new SportsTech venture bringing objective goals and fair assessments to the parents, coaches and players in the chaotic world of youth sports.
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