The Case For Fielding a First Team
By Cris Gilmore, NorCal Premier Soccer’s Director of Adult Soccer
Watching the NPL College Showcase, I was struck that for many players competing in the U19 division these were either the last matches they would play for their soccer club or one of the few last matches — depending on State Cup results. As I pondered the idea that these players who have played so long for “their” soccer club I grew increasingly agitated at the thought that this moment might be their last as soccer players.
Why should every club have a first team?
Our vision here at NorCal is that every club should have at least one – first team for both men and women regardless of the level. Whether that’s an open division, coed, over-30, over-40, or over-50, each club has to make that decision.
But why is that important?
LIGA NorCal Vision
Youth Soccer Development
We’ve invested a multitude of hours of time and energy into our players, giving them the essential skills to play at their highest capacity. From the technical prowess they develop in the early years of our teaching, to the love of the game we instill, our players exit our programs with a greater understanding of team soccer and a better ability to develop lifelong friendships. It is a shame to close the door on our youth players once they graduate high school.
We also believe it’s an integral part of our 16-18 year-old members development by giving them the opportunity to compete vs. adults. Numerous examples show players peaking at a later age in their post college years. It is obligatory for us to continue to provide an organized competitive playing environment for our youngest members.
We also feel it is necessary to enter a Men’s and Women’s team in the summer’s shortened season so your college players are best prepared to return to their season and handle the demands of the fall. Rosters can be filled by others in your community with numerous high-level players who don’t have a more competitive place to play and are currently plying their trade in various recreational leagues.
Other Adults In Your Club
In addition to your club’s college players, there are numerous young adults, parents, and coaches interested in playing soccer. With one or two dedicated, organized, committed individuals, your club can organize adult soccer in your community.
Club Soccer Is For The Entire Community
We must service our entire community and we feel all clubs have a duty and obligation to provide a competitive environment for all adults of all levels. Soccer clubs should be about servicing the entire community, not just players at the youth level.
Another way to create adult soccer environments in your club is to provide an Adult division during your already successful youth tournament as well as create an All Star game between all the visiting coaches from attending clubs vs. members of your club. Clubs can promote it as a highlight to the tournament and set it at a time where the entire community can come out to watch.
We understand the challenges behind this venture, however we expect, at some point, all NorCal clubs enter a 1st team in some capacity. Whether it be this year, next year, five years, or even 10 years from now, every club must have the vision to provide a 1st team for both Men and Women.
Once we receive enough feedback we will structure competitive leagues all over the bay area and begin to truly service our entire community.