The game of soccer is undergoing a change in Canada.
Canada Soccer has hired on former national team captain Jason Devos as their grassroots director for the game in order to get programs in motion so our soccer players can catch up with other countries and their soccer expertise.
“He is trying to see if he can make a difference and try to get soccer to the higher level,” said Ado Sarcevic, General Manager for Red Deer City Soccer Association.
The program starts with the younger players being introduced to the game and Sarcevic says all the soccer associations appear to be 100 per cent behind the initiative.
“We are already doing some things at some age groups in line with the CSA and Alberta Soccer Association vision,” he said about the move to expand instruction to players just starting out.
The pillars of the plan include educating the coaches, the players and the parents about the game of soccer.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, at the moment new soccer coaches can start with the community coach level, many without any coaching experience. Those coaches can move up the ladder by obtaining their provincial B license to coach and then a National B and A license for those higher levels of play and experience. Under this new guideline, which could be in place by 2017 a coach can take training to get a children and youth license. This is a key beginning for both the coach and the players under their guidance.
“It’s to educate them generally about the game and the difference between recreational and competitive (soccer) and really what it takes to get up to the highest possible level,” said Sarcevic.
He says around the Red Deer region there is a sort of “house league” mentality when it comes to the game and the down to earth instruction like young hockey players get in Canada isn’t really there.
Many parent volunteers are giving of their time to head up a team which is welcomed but they really aren’t armed with enough soccer knowledge to “coach” these youngsters, he said.
Sarcevic says there needs to be a clear pathway for young players as to what they need to do in order to reach the level of a professional just like it might be laid out for young hockey players in this country.
The general consensus from those coaches at the competitive level in Alberta is soccer has been running along the same line for many years now when it comes to coaching and things need to change with the times.
The former professional player from Bosnia says he can’t coach the way he was coached 22 years ago because the game isn’t played the same way.
“What we are trying to do with the newer generation is trying to introduce new things because they don’t know this old style of the way things are done,” he said. “I’m not saying they were wrong but maybe they worked 10 or 15 years ago but everything kind of changes, evolves and gets better and so does soccer as well.”
Another point made during the conference he attended was how professional soccer can influence the amateur game. Comparing Canada to Europe you have about the same geographic size with Europe holding more people of course.
The comparison Devos made was how there are five professional soccer clubs in Canada and in Europe there are more than 800 clubs.
“The soccer is driven by those professional clubs. Here the soccer is driven by community clubs because there is not enough money and there are only five professional clubs so it can’t be driven by that,” said Sarcevic.
For Red Deer in 2017, young soccer players will see more of an academy style of instruction where they will get fundamental coaching at different stations twice a week with no games and then there will be a jamboree event where they will just play games.
Sarcevic is excited about what the future of the game can be in Canada and isn’t giving up but instead getting fully involved in making changes.
“The easiest thing is to give up and sit on the side and say oh, look at that. No, you jump in and you try your best.”