A little while ago, I wrote about the birth year changes coming to CFC and where we stood with making the changes. It is one of the questions I get most often from parents – what’s happening? Who will my coach be? What age group am I?
I am writing this to hopefully shed some light on the situation we have been placed in by US Soccer. The mandate leaves us with a big issue that they have honestly not done a very good job equipping us as clubs to solve. After speaking with Mike Smith with the Timbers on the phone a couple days ago asking for some clarification on parts of the birth year, he said, “If it is this confusing for us who live in this world every day, imagine how confusing it is for everyone else.”
I want it to be clear that I am not trying to complain or whine or pass the blame – I just want to make sure you know what we are dealing with and how difficult this is going to be.
Bryan Drotar recently wrote an article on the issue titled, “US Soccer Breaks the Glass and Leaves it up to Local Clubs to Pick up the Pieces.” You can read the article here, and he makes some very valid points. A couple excerpts from the article that are important for you to know:
U.S. Soccer has only given these two benefits [1. aligning registration with international standards, 2. providing clearer information on player birth dates to combat ‘relative age effect’] to a mandate that will disrupt our entire nation’s soccer. Neither reason is actually a benefit, but the pitfalls for our clubs and players are staggering, not to mention the logistical nightmare which has been caused…
By changing the birth year to January, player born September – December will be one grade above the rest of their teammates.
First major problem: What happens to the team who has January – August 9th graders and September – December 8th graders? While the 9th graders play high school, the 8th graders will not have a team. They will in essence miss a season of play.
Second major problem: Those same September – December players will be seniors the year after their team has graduated. As a senior, they will not have a place to play.
This is not a short term problem. This is now a problem U.S. Soccer has given to its members. This is the gift that will give year after year.
On top of what Drotar mentions in his article, we have had to deal with several other issues internally that have added to the confusion:
- US Soccer and USYS originally came out with conflicting age charts that assigned different birth years to different age classifications. One said U12’s were 04’s, one said U13’s were 04’s.
- OYSA just this week let us know that U15’s (02’s) are considered a high school division and will play in Winter, but they will offer an optional Fall League for 8th graders. This means portions of this team will do different things every year depending on how many 8th graders are available.
- When we were accepted to the U12 US Soccer Development Academy, they provided more materials to us and indicated that the birth year for these is 04, which according to the rest of US Soccer is U13’s. However, for 2017-18, the birth year switches to 06.
Where is CFC at with this process?
As one of Jared’s first projects as Director of Coaching, we took two days to sort out what we think next year’s teams will look like (who will coach, how many players we have, etc.). We have been meeting with coaches individually to discuss the changes so that coaches can be the main point of contact and to help push information as far out into our club as possible.
Next weekend, OYSA has their annual meeting, and we expect to get more clarity on a few issues and find out more what other clubs are doing so that we can solve some more of the logistical challenges that we face.
We plan to publicize next year’s coaching and team assignments at the beginning of February and are working up ideas of ways to make this transition as easy as possible, including “meet your coach/team” nights and question and answer opportunities.
I hope this letter helps you see some of the challenges we face and how we are taking steps to solve this. Drover finishes his article with a list of things that parents can do in the midst of this change:
PARENTS, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Don’t freak out. All clubs are going through this.
- Make sure your club is preparing a plan (many already are) and will address it before your tryouts. Most clubs have not shared their plans yet because we were all waiting for guidance this week in Baltimore.
- Be patient and understand clubs are working on limited information. There are so many issues to deal with beyond your club such as, tournaments, state leagues, U19 divisions, recreational players, etc…
- There will be many varied solutions depending on your club and region. There is no consensus among coaches for what to do and no guidance from our ‘leaders’ at U.S. Soccer.
- Understand your Directors and Coaches are caught in this, but so is everybody else. When you are emotional remember, your coaches did not ask for this.
- Don’t complain. Be supportive. Be part of the solution. Don’t be part of the problem.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please feel free to contact us if you have questions. We strongly believe in doing everything that we can to help our players and parents through this process.
Capital Futbol Club