John Napier on Cal South’s ODP & SDDA Working Together To Create New Opportunities
John Napier is a former professional soccer player with a distinguished professional playing career starting with the Bolton Wanderers in 1963-67. Born in Northern Ireland, Napier played for Brighton & Hove Albion, Bradford City in England as well as the NASL in America for the Baltimore Comets and the San Diego Jaws. Since the 70’s, multiple time MVP Napier has shared his expertise developing youth players. A highly respected youth soccer coach, Napier is with the San Diego Soccer Club and also identifies players and coaches for Cal South ODP. Napier is a regular columnist sharing his insights on player development and the joys of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: How are you identifying players for the SDDA All-Star team?
John Napier: I think it is important that we are able to identify youth soccer players from San Diego County in all age groups both boys and girls.
In the SDDA showcase games it is very important to see these young kids at a good level and make sure they have the abilities to go further in the game.
There are so many youth players in smaller clubs that certainly do have the abilities and desire and passion to succeed, those kids need to get an opportunity!
Diane Scavuzzo: As a long time coach for Cal South’s ODP program, how do you think the All-Star teams will compare to Cal South Pro plus teams?
John Napier: As an experienced ODP coach since 1996, in my mind ODP is a very elite program.
It has been proven over the years that the very best ODP players throughout the nation go on to higher and bigger things – most of the National team players both men and women got their start in the ODP programs.
I now watch many of my former youth soccer players playing in the MLS every week.
How will SDDA kids do against the elite ODP program? I feel they will do well, why not?
The players in SDDA’s All-Star teams have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This is a great opportunity for them with no pressure. They can just go on to the field and have fun; It is very special to know that one game could change your life.
Diane Scavuzzo: Will there be extra coaching – practices for the All-Star teams?
John Napier: There will be pacific San Diego coaches assigned to the SDDA teams to be able to get them prepared for games against the ODP teams, and I think they will do very well. Their goal I would think is ‘why not me’.
Diane Scavuzzo: Please tell me about the opportunity SDDA is providing these players on the All-Star team?
John Napier: I have always said, players need exposure, players need the opportunity, and players need to be where someone will see them make a difference. Period!
SDDA is now giving kids those avenues to succeed, and they better step, and I know they will.
Diane Scavuzzo: It sounds like a wonderful idea to provide players in Presidio/SDDA with additional exposure and the opportunity of playing in front of Cal South’s ODP coaches. Do you have anything to add to that?
John Napier: Good luck to all the SDDA kids, I know they will do well.
Always remember, if you have in your body the desire and passion to succeed, you can succeed. You just have to believe you can achieve!
And there you have it! Southern California has always had a rich history of being a national leader in youth soccer and the growth of the game will continue to rise.