Yesterday, it was announced that the U.S. Soccer Federation will be partnering with the NWSL to provide a 10-week coaching course that 21 NWSL players will take part in. At the end of the course, the players will earn their U.S. Soccer C License. To put it plainly, this is good news.
One of the bigger problems facing professional soccer in the U.S. as a whole is the small pool of professional coaches. The issue is even more pronounced when it comes to women’s soccer. In the NWSL, the only American coaches are Rory Dames and Denise Reddy.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t have any problem with foreign managers in the NWSL. The reason I say the low number of American managers is a problem is because there simply aren’t very many qualified American candidates who could fill those positions. Additionally, the fact that there are only two women coaching in a women’s soccer league is something that can certainly stand to be fixed. If women’s soccer in America is going to grow, then the low number of female coaches is something that needs to change.
The coaching course is an effort to take steps toward rectifying that problem. It’s also exciting because it means in the future there will be the possibility for former NWSL players coaching in the league. In general, it means that the pool of potential coaches will grow, thereby helping to grow the game in the United States. The Orlando Pride’s own Ali Krieger and Haley Kopmeyer are taking advantage of the course, which will be completely free of charge, thanks to the U.S. Soccer Development Fund and U.S. Soccer donors.
It’s definitely a positive thing for the American game. The NWSL is looking like it’s here to stay and it’s high time that women had better representation in the league’s management positions. The course will utilize the top-notch fields and facilities of the Utah Royals, with the pro team, USSF, and NWSL all teaming up to make the course of the highest quality possible.
However, there are still lots of problems with the state of soccer coaching in the U.S., especially at the lower levels. In fact, our own Scott Carnevale is currently going through the USSF’s coaching education process and is here to fill you in on his experience with it and how things need to be changed.
The USSF coaching education program is not perfect. In fact, there are currently more problems with the program than positive aspects, but, unfortunately, if you want to be a coach in this country you will need to get licensed.
In January, U.S. soccer revamped its coaching education — or it at least tried to. Out were the old F and E Courses and instead the USSF installed the Grassroots Pathway. This new system promised that the focus would be on “coaching fundamentals with respect to U.S. soccer’s player development initiatives.” They marketed a “cost-free introductory module” and said that all of these new courses are “aligned with the Federation’s ongoing effort to improve the quality of coaches at all levels.”
Now, I am going through this process firsthand and my thoughts during and after the introductory and Grassroots modules were that it was a waste of my time and a waste of my money. I learned nothing, and my highest playing level is in high school. Sure, there were one or two drills I could use, but a quick Google search would save me both time and money and I would have ended up with the same knowledge.
I am sure that someone out there learned something from it, but if a guy who never even played at a collegiate level doesn’t pick up a single lesson on coaching fundamentals, then something is wrong with the class. Not to mention that they are $75 each and coaches must take at least three classes, plus the introductory module.
After Grassroots is the National D course. This $300 course is taken over two Friday-to-Sunday weekends. Do you see an issue already? Assuming that the class isn’t local, Friday to Sunday usually means that coaches will have to take time off work. So, they are now out $300, plus two days’ work (or two vacation days).
But this leads to yet another issue with the class locations and infrequency of offered classes. In the state of Florida there are currently nine classes on the website, all of which are either closed registration or wait-listed with dates ranging from August 2018 to January 2019. I have been checking up on a weekly basis when classes are open and I have never seen a D course open for registration in Florida. There are classes open in North Carolina for $350, or Alabama for $450, but none in Florida and the closest to Orlando is Tampa; the class in Tampa, which has closed registration, is being run through the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
But at least if a coach goes out of state, buys their own airfare and their own hotel for the two weeks, they will be ready for when they take the C Course. In all of the U.S. there are only 35 C Courses listed on the website and just three open registrations — two in Texas and another in Illinois. So, a coach will have to pay the $1,450 fee to get into the class, plus buy their own airfare and their own hotel for two different meetings. The first is seven days, followed by a six- to eight-week developmental period, and then another three days. You can do the math here, but most youth coaches cannot afford that and will find it difficult to get off work for that long.
The National B, National A, and Pro courses are even more expensive and take more time to complete. However, youth coaches will not need more than the C License, and most will be able to suffice with the D License.
As the country continues to stress youth development, more and more clubs around the country will be demanding that coaches are licensed — and that is a good thing! Better educated coaches should lead to better players. But the system is flawed and needs to be fixed. The curriculum is lacking and needs to improve. More courses need to be made available and the cost needs to go down.
The current group of U.S. internationals is being tabbed the “Golden Generation,” but if the coaching education is not fixed, missed World Cups will become a trend in the U.S.