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Reinstate Tournaments in U8-12 Soccer

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Dear YRSA Board of Directors,

Long-Term Player Development (LTPD) is aimed at developing young players properly to their full potential by putting player-development first. The majority of coaches, parents, and players can agree that most of the changes associated with LTPD have been overwhelmingly positive. Smaller fields and fewer players have ensured each player touches the ball much more. The retreat line compels teams to work on control and passing. Having players switch positions is a long overdue change that benefits all players. The game is more skill-based and the players are more involved. Nobody could dispute the worthy aims of LTPD and we applaud the YRSA for taking these bold steps.

However, we believe that the YRSA has overreached in one important area—banning tournaments. The YRSA website states that “Our commitment is to make the game more fun than ever before for the recreational player and to provide better development opportunities than ever before for those with aspirations for a future in the sport.” Preventing teams from playing in tournaments limits the opportunities for player development. Tournaments provide a bonding experience for individual players on a team, which is an essential aspect of team sports and enhances players’ social skills. Tournaments also teach young players that they have to work hard to achieve and that in sports, just as in life in general, you will often lose more than you win. Presenting all players with a medal is overly tokenistic and devalues the medal by delinking it from any real accomplishment. Most importantly, tournaments are focused around games—and all young players want to play games. Players cannot reach their full potential without testing their newly acquired skills at real game speed.

We urge you to reinstate tournaments as soon as possible: if not this season, then certainly for next year’s campaign. We suggest a compromise whereby each season features 1-2 of the festivals as they are currently structured and 2-3 tournaments within the regional boundaries (as in the 2013 season). Allowing 2-3 tournaments per season would not diminish the objectives of LTPD and it would ensure that soccer remains affordable and accessible to all while providing for more game time for players.

Yours in Soccer,

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