A non-profit youth sports organization targeting underprivileged youth. Great idea. But can I do it?

        I live in a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It is a lower income city, in the northeastern  part of the state. We are about 15 minutes from Scranton and about 90 minutes from Philadelphia. At one point it used to be a nice place to live but over the years it has become crime ridden. In fact it is number 18 on the list of top murder cities, did I say that right. Everyday the drug use and crime seems to sucking up another kid and spit them out. There isn’t an inexpensive   place for a kid to play and learn fundamentals in a sport. The cheapest  basketball is $50 bucks at the CYC, a place where the refs told me if they called every foul there would be no score. This is an instructional  league. Any type of travel team or AAU  team gets very expensive. Many of the kids around here are unable to play because of their financial  situation. You would think the YMCA or CYC or someone  would offer a spring program or summer program at an affordable  price. They do not. Nor does the city. I wrote my Congressman Matt Cartwright  several days ago asking him for some direction  and he never responded. Who is there for these kids?

         I want to start a non-profit  youth sports organization  for underprivileged  children. I want to concentrate  on 2 sports, basketball and soccer. Those are the 2 sports you need the least amount of equipment for. Less money for families to spend. I want to offer these kids an option other then drugs, drinking, fighting, gangs or whatever else they may get into. I want to offer a kid the same opportunity  a wealthy kid gas, why punish a child for a parents station in life. I see so many incredible athletes who lack the fundamentals of their sport. For basketball at the CYC, you get 1 hour of practice a week. You get the privilege of playing school teams who practice quite a bit more. Many kids spirits are crushed because of this. A kid who I’d fundamentally sound can compete with less talent, causing that kid to carry better grades, stay out of trouble and stick with their commitment. I don’t think we should be getting wealthy off of kids playing sports, AAU and travel soccer teams. Why aren’t the kids coming first?

          I want to be able to defer cost through federal, state and corporate grants. I want this to focus completely on the forgotten youths of a dying city. Anyone who has played a sport will tell you that it helps you in many other aspects of life. You learn a work ethic, discipline, teamwork, confidence and make lasting friendships. Through all of this you avoid trouble or you cannot play or be with these friends. Some kids can get an athletic scholarship because of this, some will get an academic  scholarship because they work harder to keep good grades because they want to play and go to college. It changes how many kids life daily. Why not offer a program that helps them?

         When the kids would enter are program there will be certain obligations  they must meet for us to defer their costs.
1) They must maintain a B average in school. If I a kid needs help, I would like to offer a tutoring program. Education is the key.
2) They must stay out of trouble. Any detention or suspension will be met with the same at our program. If it us a continuing problem we will refer it to a facility to help. We will try not to leave a kid behind. But they must realize there are repercussions for your actions.
3) They will be required to do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or any other program that requires volunteers to help the needy. To teach them empathy, compassion  and remind them that there are people who have it worse. After my daughter did these with the Key Club at G.A.R. High School she couldn’t wait to go back to help again.
4) To participate and help organize community outreach programs periodically. Several times a year. Anything to reach out to help those less fortunate, even if it is a free basketball or soccer tournament. Through this they will hopefully take pride in their community and look for ways to help improve it.
5) Summer programs and clinics that the kids can help teach. Teach them to give to others in order to help them improve their situation.
Most importantly I want to keep them off the street and out of trouble. Have impromptu  3 on 3 basketball  tournaments, 5 on 5 soccer tournaments. For those that want to play AAU or travel soccer, we will offer those programs but ask the kids to hand out flyers or participate  in fund eaising, all with a qualified adult present. I would like in the summer to offer child care to low income families. Several hours a day. Introduce them to a sport, get them outside and active. Have dodge ball tournaments. We need to fight childhood  obesity  as well.

            I would also like to offer affordable clinics for coaches. Youth coaches effect a child more then many people realize. It would help if they had proper training that didn’t eat up a lot of their time or money. Youth coaches are typically volunteers. They deserve some thanks in this grueling process. The better the coach, the better chance a child has. I want to build a facility  with several indoor courts, several outdoor courts, 2 high school size soccer fields and 2 small children soccer fields. Maybe I am being naive, but I believe this is needed where I live and in most other areas. Why can’t we be the template everyone else follows? I know some areas offer something similar to this. Now is the time for Wilkes-Barre  to offer it.   If you want to take your community back, wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point? Now to figure out how to get it done. Any ideas?

Possession soccer vs long ball soccer.

                I coach U13 girls soccer. My daughter joined her school team and they are not good. They are athletic and  have some good ball handlers. But they play big kick soccer as opposed to possession soccer. There is also a disconnect between the kids and the coach. I am not tryingvyo belittle the coach, he played soccer for 15 years and definitely knows how to play the game better than me. But he seems to be stuck in an older style of soccer that doesn’t work anymore.

Their first 3 games they lost; 12-2, 8-1 and 9-1. They were getting blown out from the get go. One huge problem I see is the long kicks downfield. In yesterday’s game there were at least 15 long kicks, not one time did we retain possession. That is 15 lost possessions, 15 chances to score a goal and keep the ball out of the other teams hands. They are also lacking serious fundamentals. He has them everyday for an hour and half, his plan should be taking shape.

Fundamentally they are lacking, always trying for flashy instead of just making the play. Instead of getting their body in front of the ball, they throw legs up. Instead of controlling the ball and looking where they are passing, they just kick it with not regard to who it is going to. Defensively they play with the ball near the box. They will be in a crowd and kick up the middle. They consistently do this and consistently lose the ball in the scoring zone. I don’t know why they don’t just kick it out of bounds, it gives you the opportunity to reset and winning throw ins is about a 50/50 chance.

I don’t pretend to be the best coach in the world, but if you see something that works, USE IT. Each team they played against used the short to medium passing game and kicked it out on defense, not everytime, but were coached how and when to do it. They worked the ball up the field, instead of using the big kick/fast break style. One of our teams goals was scored that way, the rest on penalty kicks. He also pushes his defense up across the half line, even though it consistently gets beat back, even though they have a defender that stays behind the rest.

I preach the shorter passing game and possession soccer. I also preach having your defenders kick it out, unless they have open field in front of them. I believe in body position on defense and not making a play on the ball until you ride them where you want them. It has worked for a team that won 3 or 4 games over 4 years. I watched Chelsea vs Everton last week and there were not many big kicks down the field. Even the goalie would roll it to the defenders. One touch passing and short to medium passes make the defense move more, causing them to be out of position. Spain won a World Cup with this method.

I hope this coach can find the right mix between his method and the newer way of soccer, but I don’t see it. Even warmups he has them doing sharks and minnows while the other team has the offense working against their defense. No one works with the goalie who is brand new to goalie and soccer. I know I sound like an unhappy parent, I am a coach who sees where they can improve, and I am not seeing it. I have not said anything to the coach and never will, it is his team despite my unhappiness with the system. Could they win with possession soccer, probably not at first, it is hard to sell kids on, but they will competetive. Which will then grow confidence, which will then lead to wins. I hope I get a high school job next year. I want to see if my ideas work therd as well