A common theme in the youth soccer landscape this past year since our men failed to qualify for the World Cup has been the lack of collaboration in our youth soccer landscape. There has been a call to action for organizational structures that make sense and speak to the needs and desires of the players. I wrote recently about how Collaboration is a Force Multiplier and called on leaders to find ways to work together to elevate the game in the United States.
I was in Washington, DC yesterday attending the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Summit. This is an annual gathering of youth sports leaders. At the Summit, Nico Romeijn, Chief Sport Development Officer for U.S. Soccer spoke on a panel about soccer in America and Ryan Mooney, Chief Soccer Officer for U.S. Soccer shared a statement about U.S. Soccer’s commitment to coach education.
At one point in the day I walked into a room to find Chris Moore, Executive Director of US Youth Soccer, Nico Romeijn, Jay Berhalter – Chief Commercial Officer for U.S. Soccer, Mike Hoyer – Executive Director of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and Ryan Mooney all enjoying a conversation! I couldn’t help myself and immediately asked for a picture (above) to demonstration collaboration in action!
Later last night a symbolic first step towards a reorganized youth soccer landscape was made – with the distribution of the below letter to the American soccer public. My understanding is that this task force will continue to meet regularly and that change will result. IT MUST RESULT. I know change will be hard as business interests must be protected – however we need to make certain the player is always placed first.
We have an amazing opportunity in front of us in hosting the Men’s World Cup in 2026. It is essential that we look forward to 2026 as a hard deadline for this exciting restructuring.
Oct. 17, 2018
Letter from Youth Task Force Leadership Council
As you may know, U.S. Soccer formed a special task force to specifically address youth soccer matters. The belief is that our sport is much stronger when its stakeholders are working together.
We took our first step last Friday, Oct. 12, holding the first Youth Task Force Leadership Council meeting in Tampa, Fla. With a council comprised of the leadership from AYSO, SAY Soccer, US Club Soccer, USSSA, US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, we discussed a number of critical issues facing youth soccer in America.
We believe that with an eight-year runway toward the 2026 FIFA World Cup, we have an opportunity to transform soccer in America, and it starts by tackling the challenges in front of us at the grassroots level.
This Task Force, which will grow to include experts and thought leaders supporting a number of working groups, will focus on areas where we believe we can work together to create significant and lasting change, while supporting the strategic vision for U.S. Soccer.
As we work together, the following statement guides our approach:
Soccer is the most beloved sport in the world, and we believe its future in the U.S. will be positively impacted by our efforts to work cooperatively under a shared sense of purpose and a common belief in supporting the development of players, coaches and referees.
In that way, we believe…
… that players should be kept at the center of every decision, and should be provided with an environment that is fun, inclusive and safe.
… that coaches should participate in courses and educational opportunities that match their ambition.
… that referees should be treated with respect, and provided with the resources that allow them to develop and enjoy the experience.
There are many faces of youth soccer – across all ages and levels of competition – and we are unified in our desire to grow the sport together.
In closing, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to the many thousands of volunteers and professionals who have dedicated their lives to this beautiful game. You inspire us, and together we will work to improve the game for all those who participate in it.
AYSO – Mike Hoyer
SAY Soccer – Doug Wood
US Club Soccer – Mike Cullina
USSSA – Craig Scriven
US Youth Soccer – Dr. Pete Zopfi
U.S. Soccer – Carlos Cordeiro, Dan Flynn, John Collins and Tim Turney