Think Tank FC talks about running adult soccer clubs at the elite / semi-pro level in the state of Washington and the Northwest. David Falk is the Media Director for the Evergreen Premier League, Western Indoor Soccer League and Northwest Premier League. He founded soccer news website goalWA.net in 2011.
by David Falk
It’s been a crazy few days in the world of US soccer since the National Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. There is plenty of blame to go around, and even more questions — and ideas — about what went wrong and how to address it.
There are some themes emerging, and they are familiar ones. Is it that we aren’t letting all of the kids play, including those that can’t afford to “pay to play?”
Is this actually the wake-up call our country really needed?
The Country of Washington
Have you ever asked yourself this: “If Washington state was a country, what kind of National Team could we field?” Here’s one perhaps more timely: What are the soccer people of Washington doing to advance the growth of the US Men’s National Team?
We’ve got a proud history as a state in producing players that have made it all the way to the US Nats. Could we have had even more if we had more clubs outside of the “Pay to Play” model? Are there enough “Tacoma United”-type stories in our state?
If we had statewide promotion and relegation in adult leagues could this engage 19-23 year-olds into staying on the pitch and thus catching any ‘late bloomers?’
Does Washington soccer need its own “wake-up call” where all ages, genders, clubs, leagues and associations have a place at the table for the greater good of the game? Can we bury politics in soccer in favor of a single goal: provide players for our nation?
If we follow “Player A” from Little Kickers to Sounders FC, what sort of journey would we see? What roadblocks? What encouragement? Is anyone somewhere tracking Washington soccer players to see how we are doing, or are we just googling names and being happily surprised when someone we know “moves up?”
You see I have plenty of questions. It’s on all of us to come up with and live out some answers.
Adult behavior or same old kids stuff?
While it might not directly impact the USMNT, wouldn’t it make ‘soccer sense’ to see some folks in the state of Washington’s burgeoning adult soccer world go statewide with promotion and relegation? Has it really been four years since Timothy Hamilton laid it all out for us in this plan of action?
We already have versions of pro / rel in our various youth systems in Washington. Of course they are embedded within the “pay to play” model, leaving tournaments as the lone place where “free” clubs can compete against the rest. Even then – those tournaments themselves might well be “Stay and Play” combinations requiring hotel arrangements and hefty entry fees.
I need a glass of wine. This soccer thing is making me anxious this week. Speaking of that… have you seen those recent social media ads about how much you pay for a bottle of wine — and how much of that money actually goes towards drinkable vino?
Where exactly does our “soccer money” in Washington go?
If the wine in the graphic actually represented ‘quality soccer training time and playing experience,’ could it be that how much we pay is less important than how that time, money and energy is directed? In that scenario, if we focus on soccer — the actual game and playing experience — rather than marketing, bottles, corks and labels, —our money would go to the players and the game more often than Directors of Coaching (DOC’s), snazzy kits and updated fancy club websites.
The kids CAN learn from the adults
The youth clubs in Washington are the money-makers. They bring in the cash and harvest playing talent until it or the money runs out — and then a new batch of U9’s is magically born and it starts all over again.
Meanwhile up in the world of adult club soccer – there is literally no money outside of the generosity of individuals and sponsors. Yet teams are fielded and the main point of it all is gloriously accomplished week-in, week-out around the year. Players take the pitch because they love the game, want to get better…and simply want to play.
Hey Washington—-let’s expand on that joy, and focus on the parts of the game that matter in changing how America plays — on the pitch.
Can we all drink to that?