The Northern Chautauqua Soccer Association (NCSA) experienced several changes in the 2018 season. We want to be the first to admit, we did not communicate these changes the way we should have. Some changes were well received, some, its clear require more explanation, and some may need to be changed again. Additionally, when the questions came in we were not prepared to answer your questions in a timely and appropriate manner. Emails and social media responses lacked substance and were too abrupt. We apologize for what may have appeared as a lack of empathy.
It is important to the NCSA Board that our membership understands that we evaluate each decision very carefully and always with your players' development in mind. It is also important to the board that our membership understands why those decisions are made and that our soccer families are comfortable during the implementation process.
Going forward to help the communication process, the Board will be offering the "Privilege of the Floor" during its monthly meetings so that your voice can be heard. Meeting minutes will soon will be published on our website www.myncsa716.net and the agenda will be published prior to the meeting so families may speak on that agenda. Any new major change will be implemented much more methodically in a way that our membership understands.
The NCSA Board has drafted the below "FAQ" answers to some of the "why" questions about the big changes seen in the 2018 Season, see below. *Note* This "FAQ" will be an evolving document that we will adapt and change as new issues and concerns arise.
What's with the new registration deadline?
A registration deadline, where no late registrations will be accepted, has been established for our summer house league season. In past years we have allowed players to register late, sometimes during the first week of play. This flexible format was done because we wanted to sign up every child who wanted to play.
Unfortunately, many last minute registrations caused an undue strain on administrative staff trying to assess appropriate age division ratios of players to fields, and coaches to players. It also placed stress on our coaching staff, whom would often have to organize jersey requests to coordinators. It also required extra jerseys to be purchased to supply possible registrants accepted after our jersey order was placed. Coaches might also need to adjust their training plans or sometimes limit game playing time for their players to fewer than 50% of total game time.
Having a deadline in place will allow coordinators the time to assemble teams, and to organize the jersey ordering for players. It will prepare 10U and 12U coaches with a fixed number of players on their team, and 6U and 8U coaches with an appropriate number of players they will be responsible for.
It is the goal of NCSA to provide a positive experience to our players, parents, coaches and administrators. Having a registration deadline in place actually allows us to effectively implement Player Development Initiatives on the field, helping volunteer coaches to coach, and streamline the administrative process for volunteer coordinators.
Why can't my child play as much soccer as they want (Travel players in House League)?
In 2018 the Northern Chautauqua Soccer Association (NCSA) executive board passed a resolution prohibiting Concord FC travel players from participating in the house league. Before voting on the resolution, the board conferred with a panel of regional soccer experts to hear their opinions on how to best support players in our house (non-competitive) and travel (competitive) programs.
Having the development of all players in mind, the panel members emphasized the progression of player development from non-competitive to a competitive environment. If a player plays travel soccer, they will "graduate" out of the house league. For example, a 9 year old house league player could try-out for a travel team. If that player is offered a place on the team, they would "graduate" out of house league, and play only travel soccer. This approach will allow us to tailor each player’s training experience, in both house and travel leagues, to the most appropriate development level.
This movement of players from a non-competitive environment into a competitive one benefits both groups. The panel added that when players play with others who are of equal skill level, new skill acquisition increases. Travel players tend to approach competition differently. They are more prepared for practices and games, have a higher skill level, are typically better physically conditioned, and are more tactically aware. Therefore, when you add travel players to house, you essentially have two levels of players. While it might help the house player to play with the travel player, it does not work both ways. The travel player will tend to regress to poor habits.
The two tier format of non-competitive and competitive leagues also mirrors NCSA’s coaching structure. NCSA house league coach training is designed differently, with different license/training requirements, than our travel league. As a result, house coaches, in most cases, are not able to hold the travel players to the standard of travel expectations when they play within house.
Why did NCSA cap the age at 12U this season?
NCSA has capped its summer house league age divisions at 12U. There are several reasons for this cap.
Over the last three years, we have seen a significant decrease in player registration from the ages of 13-18. In the past, these numbers have resulted in the need to combine the separate boy and girl divisions from 14U to high school in order to have the player numbers to sustain age-appropriate 11v11 games. Unfortunately, this meant combining a wide range of age groups, as well as mixing boys with girls. Combining these two factors made it difficult for NCSA to ensure player safety and comply with US Soccer’s age-appropriate coaching methods.
We have also seen a decrease in parent volunteers for coaching and administration positions from every age group. Since the player numbers above 12U have become steadily lower over the past years, the pool from which we draw coaches and administrators has also decreased. This situation has put undue stress on our administrative staff, where they have been required to fill several additional positions, including that of coaching, beyond what they had originally volunteered to do.
As a result of the decrease in player/coaching/administrative numbers in the age divisions of 14U to High School, the NCSA board, NCSA Director of Coaching, and NYSWYSA’s (New York State West Youth Soccer Association) Assistant Technical Director has committed to consolidate our efforts into the LK (Little Kickers), 6U, 8U, 10U, and 12U divisions. These divisions, especially 6U and 8U, traditionally have higher player numbers where US Soccer’s PDI (player development initiative) system guidelines can be followed. These PDIs are science-based, age-specific guidelines that stress long term development over short term gains.
The NCSA board, with NYSWYSA, has implemented a Play-Practice-Play (PPP) format that we hope will make it easier for us to attract, and retain new coaches. PPP is a coach-friendly approach where the coach has the players learn the game by playing. We think this format will be more attractive to parents who do not have traditional coaching (coach-centered) experience to consider coaching their child’s peers.
The NCSA house league is not trying to eliminate soccer for certain age groups, but rather create a soccer-positive environment where parents/coaches/administrators encourage players to think for themselves on the field. To do that, we need self-sustaining age divisions comprised of youth to step in and play, and parents to step in to coach and administrate. We are exploring additional playing opportunities for older children not intending on playing in a competitive environment. We encourage Concord FC travel options, or modified/varsity school options for those players who want to continue playing beyond 12U.
Whats behind the group play/practice for the 6-8 year olds?
In 2018 NCSA implemented new training guidelines for the 6U and 8U summer house league divisions. For these age divisions, NCSA has eliminated rosters, and teams in favor of having the players grouped differently, by the coaching pool, during each training/game session.
NCSA, like most youth sports associations in the area are members of greater organizations that are, in turn, members of greater organizations. NCSA takes direction and is influenced by its state affiliate, New York State West Youth Soccer Association (NYSWYSA) and its board of directors. NYSWYSA takes direction from US Youth Soccer, who takes direction from US Soccer Federation (USSF), who takes direction from Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Guidelines for play, practice and all things soccer begin from the top down through literature called the USSF Player Development Initiatives (PDI). PDIs dictate field dimensions, number of players for every field size, standards for age appropriate playing/training to clubs.
For the 6U and 8U divisions, the PDI states the following:
“Formal rosters and teams are not needed so having a flexible and fluid approach to training and playing is recommended”
“Utilize “in-house” programs that have everyone train and play as a pool of players rather than as distinct teams”
“This approach allows players to train and play with a variety of other kids based on numbers, ability, age, height, weight, etc.”
This format also helps manage the attendance issues that the 6U and 8U divisions have historically experienced. Player attendance has been erratic from day to day and week to week. Due to the timing of soccer in northern Chautauqua County, our season overlaps with family vacations and holidays during the summer. This makes it very difficult for many families to commit to making every scheduled practice or game. In the past, low attendance has resulted in uneven team numbers which can limit proper rest periods. It has also led to games of 3v3 on fields designed for 4v4, which will also increase fatigue and reduce close contact 1v1 play. Sometimes coaches were unwilling to share players, or coaches who were had a difficult time coaxing players over to play with another team.
NCSA saw these PDIs not only a great way to train a variety of players with varying sizes and skills, but also a way to address the problems of varying attendance. By always making different teams each session, players are always having to play with different teammates, different coaches, and against different opponents. The format has also helped our coaches eliminate the guesswork of having to figure out an instant plan when 4 coaches are expecting 30 players, but only 10 show up. Instead, they play based on the number of players able to attend each night.
We hope that this information will serve to explain the rationale behind some of the changes that we all felt in the 2018 season. We also hope that you understand that these changes are part of a process and to improve and better serve our membership to provide the best soccer playing experience possible. We welcome constructive feedback and encourage you to reach out with further questions through email. If you'd like to become more involved in supporting our program, please email that interest or consider coming to a meeting. We meet at Room 127 in Fenton Hall at SUNY Fredonia on the first Monday of each month between 630-830.