WSC Statement on Under 8 Travel Teams
In line with the philosophy of Warrington Soccer Club (WSC, the Club) we believe that fun is more important than winning, that fostering passion and knowledge of the game is longer lasting than scoring goals, that sportsmanship should be what we as a club, our teams, and individuals should be known for rather than a ranking, and that any short-term gains are fleeting without a commitment to long-term player development. We believe this to be true for all player ages and abilities, but especially at the Under 8 (u8) age and below.
Much of the draw for many parents comes from the desire to see their 6 or 7 year-old play on a bigger field, in a “real game” with goalies. Nearly all of the clubs in our local community have travel teams for u8 players. Warrington Soccer Club does not. This message is intended to help explain why.
The following is the Club’s official statement from our Directors of Coaching, Paul Centofanti and Neil Smart. If you have questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to reach out to them for further discussion.
The mission of our Club’s soccer programs is to provide an environment that best supports player development at all ages. Under the leadership of our two outstanding Directors of Coaching, WSC players receive opportunities for long-term skill development with a “rational transition” to travel soccer (for those players who wish to play travel) at the appropriate time.
Jeremy Victor, WSC President
on behalf of the WSC Board of Directors
Statement on Small-sided Games by the Directors of Coaching
In keeping with the Club's philosophy, we and WSC support the official US Soccer policy of small-sided games for the younger age groups including the mandate of playing 4v4 games at the u8 level. The benefits of small-sided games to players in this age group are significant, and acknowledged by all forward-looking soccer education organizations including the governing body, US Soccer. Here is their official statement on the matter:
Small-sided game standards will be implemented by all U.S. Soccer youth member organizations, including state associations, U.S. Youth Soccer, U.S. Club Soccer, AYSO, SAY and others. Local organizations will lead the charge in carrying out these national standards to ensure uniformity in the youth game across the country.
In brief, some of the benefits of the 4v4 small-sided game environment to the player are:
- More FUN
- More touches on the ball
- Encourages finesse and passing as opposed to “the big kick” up the field
- More involvement in the game – not just standing and waiting for the ball
- No or limited need to learn positional and tactical responsibilities – just play!
This environment enhances long-term player development and increases the chances of players being successful when travel team play begins at the u9 level. As the Directors of Coaching for the Club, we are disappointed in the trend towards u8 travel teams where very young players are “forced” into 7v7 games that are too complex and that too often they are not ready for.
It is our and the Club’s position that if the players are to come first then all clubs should be following the US Soccer mandate on small-sided games, and should not begin travel until at least the US Soccer recommended u9 level. With our recommendation and for these reasons WSC, as a club that puts player development first, does not offer u8 travel team play.
However, in addition to our Spring and Fall regular season games, WSC does offer a wide variety of player development opportunities for our u8 players. These include:
- Director of Coaching Neil Smart dedicated to u10 and under player development
- Indoor Winter League with small-sided games
- Three-season Warrington Futures Pre-Academy Training Program
- Weekly Intramural team training sessions led by the u10 Director of Coaching with ongoing support from our volunteer coaches
- Intramural soccer festivals providing players with additional opportunities to pick-up and play FUN, small-sided games
If you have questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to reach out to us for further discussion.
Paul and Neil, the Directors of Coaching
- Paul Centofanti – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neil Smart - email: email@example.com