A few months ago I noticed a signed photo in my daughter\’s room of a local soccer player who at the time was playing soccer at a local university on a full-ride scholarship. I was surprised to see it given that it was over seven years old. This player had been invited to my daughter\’s U10 competition team to run practice and talk to the girls about the importance of school and hard work. Her university was nice enough to supply her with action shots that she signed for the girls. Later that year, the players were ball girls at one of the University\’s home age. At least for my daughter, this player had made a favorable and lasting impression on her.
In an earlier post I wrote about a \’Adopt-a-High-Soccer-Player\’ program and how such a program would benefit youth soccer players, the high school soccer players, the school/club/soccer organization, and adult coaches. These same groups will stand to benefit from this program as well. However, because the college/university player is more mature and a better soccer player than a high school player and there are simply fewer college players available, there are different types of \’wins\’ that such a program can produce.
Winner #1: Youth Soccer Player
Youth players will still relate better to a college player than a 40-year-old parent figure. The more youth players who get to hear, see, and interact with the college player, the better. The celebrity factor should make young players more interested in and attentive to a college player than a high school player.
Winner #2: College Student-Athletes
Given the college player\’s playing ability and maturity, there are many more roles this player can assume within a Club/League. This player could:
- Meet, speak, and run a practice for each team in the Club/League.
- Be a regular trainer for a competitive team. Given the college player\’s knowledge of the game, a competitive team with better and more focused players would be a better fit.
- Become a board member for the Club/League. As a person who is living and experiencing soccer at an advanced level but is not too far removed from being a youth player, he/she could play an integral role in helping develop and shape the future of the Club.
Either one or a combination of these activities or responsibilities would look terrific on a resume or post-graduate application.
Winner #3: College/University Soccer Program
If a college program is able to partner with a local soccer Club/League, attendance should rise as interest in the team increases. The college will have an endless supply of ball boys and ball girls. And who knows, maybe five or 10 years down the road, a few of the youth soccer players who were a part of the \’Adopt-a-College-Soccer Player\’ program will be stars at the same university.
Winner #4: Adult Coaches
Once again, many soccer coaches have little or no soccer experience themselves. Any help or instructions, especially from someone with extensive knowledge of the game can only be beneficial.
Winner #5: Youth Soccer Club or League
If a Club or League develops a reputation for bringing on board local college players to help train its youth players, membership will grow. Having young, knowledgeable, and good soccer players train the Club\’s youth players should result in better teams and players. With a good relationship with the local College, perhaps its coach(es) will contribute their knowledge and expertise to the Club/League as well.
Any player who is fortunate enough to play at the college level must be good. Only the \’cream-of-the-crop\’ play college soccer. If there is any way to get such a player to volunteer his or her time to your Club/League, go for it. Only a select number of college players will play and earn a living as a professional soccer player. By giving these players an opportunity to train, teach, and help build and grow a Club/League, they, too, will be part of a unique and valuable experience. It will be a win-win-win-win-win situation for all.