Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soccer Trials

By trials, I do not in any way imply try outs, I mean sufferings.

Our son Dominic has been playing competitive soccer since the winter of 2006, when he was U8. That first year, the winter and summer seasons that he was U8 and the winter season that he was U9, things went well. They played against teams that were older than them in the recreational league, and mostly, they lost, but it didn't matter, because that was temporary, and soon they would be playing in the U9 competitive league, against teams their own age, and things would be easier.

Except that for the 2007 summer season, when he was U9, the club decided that they would separate the boys into a stronger team and a weaker team. They did this knowing that there was only one calibre of play. It isn't until U11 that there is an A and an AA league. They took all the aggressive players and put them on one team, and Dominic's team was left with mostly defensive players like himself and new players that had just joined us from the recreational league. The stronger team had no problem winning everything, while Dominic's team continually lost. They couldn't even make it past the centre line until near the end of the season.

By that time, most of the players were fed up and quit and our coach was repalced with another.

The new season, winter 2007/08, wasn't so bad. They were now U10, and there were a lot of new recruits, enough for two "weaker" teams plus the stronger team. Dominic's team won about half of their games.

Once again, at the end of the season, we lost half the team, and changed coaches. The summer 2008 season was horrible. Halfway through the season, only about 5 or 6 boys would show up for a practice, and about that many for a game. We played most of the games from the end of July and all through August with about 6 substitutes from the U9 team. We continually lost 12-0, 10 -0. The best we could do was manage to lose by only 6-0. We complained at the end of the season, that the boys were tired of losing all the time, and I told the direction of the Club that they needed to find a solution to keep our players with us, because everytime we started over with new players, we got further behind. We were told that it was in our heads, and that it didn't really bother the kids to lose.

Which is about when we started bribing Dominic to play by paying him 5 dollars everytime he played a good game. (because getting massacred each time, was not bothering him.)

The two weaker teams were put together to form one team for the 2008/09 U11 winter season(because, once again, we'd lost about half the team in both cases). At this point, only two kids could say they'd been with the club since they were U8. (Compared to the stronger team, who managed to keep most of their players) We told Dominic, "Stick with it for another year, you'll see, it will get better, this winter you have to play in an AA league so you'll lose, but this summer you'll be playing in an A league and things will get better." They never won a game all winter, but they had a good coach, and at least this time around, most of the kids had been with one or the other teams for at least one previous season.

At the start of the 2009 summer season, we were told that our coach would become Head coach for both the A team (us) and the AA team (the stronger team). He would be assisted by younger coaches. Two coaches for us, and one for the AA team I believe. He would be at our practices and our games. And players from our team would have the possibility to move up and play AA if they worked hard enough and some of the AA players would move down, because not all of them were strong enough to be there. Two A players did indeed move up to the AA team for the summer, although none moved down. We were hopeful that, at last, we would have a good season, but we also told ourselves, that if we were still losing half the team and changing coaches again at the end of the season, we would seriously consider giving up.

Thanks to the fact that we were finally playing in a league our level, we did manage to finish 5 out of 8 teams over the summer and normally did not lose by more than 1 or 2 points in a game. However, the head coach did not show up for any of the practices, (he only showed up for the games) and dedidcated his time to the AA team only. This left the two young inexperienced coaches with no supervision, and they proceeded to organize practices that ressembled their own. Which is to say, practices aimed at an adult AAA clientele. If the kids did something wrong they had to do a lot of pushups and laps around the field. If they did something well, there was no word of encouragement to signal it. At least one boy left the field during a practice, crying. Attendance at practices started to diminish.

Once again at the end of the season, we lost just under half the team. Many of them left temporarily, because of hockey and other activites, but at least one left because of the coaches. We told the technical director and the General Director for the club more than once what was going on, and for the start of this new season, the only thing they had done to correct the situation was to find an adult coach who would help the young coaches. What we really needed was an adult coach that the young coaches would help instead of the other way around. Everything came to a head this week, as we lost two more boys, one left after last Friday's practice and won't come back unless the coaches go, the other just had too much on his schedule and wanted to come back in the spring. The price for this winter season was based on there being 16 players. We were no down to 12, which meant paying over $700 to play, when for essentially the same program (two practices and participation in a 7x7 league) Marysss is only paying just over $400. The only difference is Dominic's team has one 11x11 practice which requires more stadium space.

Marc and I decided that, at that price, and Dominic not wanting to play with his team anymore, and the team still having problems keeping its players, the head coach ditching us, and with the problems with the young coaches, we were going pull Dominic out.

We sent more than one e-mail to the Club, telling them they had to do something, and noone answered, so Marc (who is manager) sent an e-mail saying that Dominic was quitting, that 3 of the other boys had also quit, that they needed to find a new manager, and that the price was now $770 per player since we were now dividing the price for the team into 11.

That finally got the club moving, because they sent an email to Marc, asking him to forward it to the other parents (and to copy them - to make sure he sent it I guess) saying that they would recruit more players and that the administration would find a solution so they wouldn't have to pay $700+ individually to play.

I am sure that the administration will find some solution, but I highly doubt their capacity to find more players to play for the team. They also mention nothing about placing the young coaches elsewhere, with another team, with an adult to supervise, and giving us different coaches. If they give us different coaches, they would probably automatically have 3 players come back. (including Dominic).

As it is, if Dominic does not want to play with them this winter, he will not be playing. We are done pushing him to play in spite of the difficulties we have every year within the team. I am tired of telling him at the start of each new season that it will be better this time around, and then having to eat my words because it never gets better.

Dominic is fed up playing with the team, (not because of his fellow players) Marc is fed up managing the team (not because of the parents), because the needs of the team are not being met, because we are often ignored, and even insulted in one case. And I am tired of playing the peacemaker all the time.

So I believe it is time to take a holiday. Perhaps Dominic will try out again in the spring. If things seem better.