#SoccerSpeakUSA Summary – ‘Recreational vs Select Soccer’

The theme for this week’s chat was ‘Recreational vs Select Soccer’. A subject that has changed over the years due to a number of factors, with none more so prevalent than the cost, development or future pathways issue.

We knew that it was going to be another great debate when we came across the following tweet! @backseatgaffer Man, what a topic! Will be interested to see if this stays on-topic or drifts to club v. prep debate.

To those that are unfamiliar with the #SoccerSpeakUSA chats – each week we provide a summary of the chat for those that missed it including the top posts from each question. We also announce a weekly ‘Tweeter of the week’ who will be featured in this summary and goes to the person Soccer Support feels gave the best insights and responses during the hour and embodied what #SoccerSpeakUSA is setting out to achieve.


Q1. Does the Recreational/Select/Premier model work?

@chandrimatweets: my opinion on the rec, select, premier, and as a player, is that it gives us all a place to play.

Discussion then started to evolve into what the goals of players, parents and coaches throughout the levels were.

@backseatgaffer: If you are to have a tiered, merit-based system in youth soccer, the goal should be to advance talent.

And then like clockwork the debate started to touch on the most contentious issue of the night. Cost…

Q2. Do the costs involved with select soccer ultimately halt the progress of our most talented youth?

@justkhoai: Not everyone can afford ‘select soccer’ and talent gets overlooked.

@Deegley: We have a soccer caste system in US. If not paying to play, seen as inferior quality.

So why is it that soccer has the lowest costs to entry (eg a ball and shin pads) yet the highest costs to play?

@xDannybarajas if fees were lower or if financial aid were more readily available there would be more chances for all

And that pretty much sums it up. Opportunity. Take the NBA for example, inner-city kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds always have the opportunities to get to the elite tiers of the game. Talent above all else.

The general consensus was that the future of the game will never be optimized if there are a multitude of tiers, each with different levels of skill and costs. There is no natural flowing soccer pyramid in the U.S. with players often confused with how to best make it up the playing ladder.

Q3. Does the emphasis on winning at the select level come too early in a players development?

This question was the surprise package of the night and saw opinions divided between creating a real environment for kids and the ongoing psychological development the sport provides.

@chandrimatweets: creating as real an environment for youth soccer as possible is important. I am channeling Wynalda a bit.

@justkhoai: Win/loss (unpredictable at times) is part of life. I think ongoing development & learning is important. Always room 4 improvement.

@futboldaddy: “Win now” affects development when coaches teach the team to launch ball up the pitch to the tallest, fastest, strongest kid

And then we hit a nerve. With no real indicators of when a player should progress to the next level of development (e.g. age), discussion then centered around whether the ‘select’ level came to early in a child’s development and if the transition from recreational to select soccer teams was in fact driving players into the arms of other sports.

@RiverIsisPetal saw a solid player (had pace etc) on below average HS team. Now on Div 1 scholarship in Track & Field

@xDannybarajas: we lose all of them once they learn that other sports here in the USA have more opportunities

Q4. Do you think players are forced to join select soccer teams if they want to progress in the sport?

@backseatgaffer: Until there is an alternative mechanism to get to top level of the game, youth players have to play select.

@BlountUnitedSoc: Constant battle at a club to keep fees affordable under a non-profit structure. Money= Training, equipment & facilities.

In response to this tweet, we then opened up the debate for the last 5 minutes to discuss people’s ideas…

@backseatgaffer: More collaboration between community-based soccer and clubs, development of low-cost clubs in urban centers

@Deegley: Also more direction from US Soccer about youth dev. All levels need to talk to each other.

It was evident from this week’s chat that the development and opportunities for players are top of the list in regards to the future development of the sport or to be put simply – grassroots over elite development. In this multi-tiered and for want of a better word, fractured, soccer pyramid the U.S. currently is working with it was clear that people had some great ideas of how to put soccer back on track.

That’s why Soccer Support has launched the inaugural State of Soccer Report to conduct an annual inquiry into all soccer related matters in the USA from a grassroots perspective.

The State of Soccer Report will not be a silver bullet for the future direction of the game, but we do believe it can be the start of a new approach to the growth of soccer and a new conversation between association administrators and their fundamental stakeholder – soccer participants. Make sure you get involved and check out how to make a submission here >>> bit.ly/yojFJd


And so that brings us to the #GrowTheGame Tweeter of the week…this week we had to hand it to @chandrimatweets who was extremely busy on the night not only through her own original content, but a number of side conversations that looked at current issues and ones that may become more problematic in the future. Chandrima has won the right to promote a particular blog, website or team and she can redeem this prize by emailing info@soccersupport.us or sending @SoccerSupport a DM through Twitter with the details.


#SoccerSpeakUSA returns next week (2/29/12) at the regular time and day of Wednesdays at 4:30pm PST and 7:30PM EST.

The conversation doesn’t stop there though. Fans across the country are encouraged to use the #GrowTheGame hashtag during the week to be linked with other like-minded people and talk all thing soccer.

If you would like more info on #SoccerSpeakUSA, Soccer Support, our #GrowTheGame project or perhaps to submit question 4 for next week email info@soccersupport.us

See you all next week!


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