Interview with Derek Barraza on Cal South and Youth Soccer Today
The US Youth Soccer Cal South elections are coming up this month and Derek Barraza, the current State Association president is up for re-election.
SoccerToday’s Editor in Chief, Diane Scavuzzo had the opportunity to interview Barraza on his what his goals and aspirations are for the future of Cal South.
Here is our exclusive interview with Cal South’s President Derek Barraza:
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the most important issues facing Cal South Today?
Derek Barraza: We remain disconnected from our membership. I firmly believe that through unity and collaboration with our members we can accomplish anything. It is the only way we can succeed. Through collaborative leadership, we must articulate our vision for success, establish our goals, and develop a plan to achieve our goals. Finally, we must execute our plan to the full extent of our capabilities.
We are working in a top-down model introduced in 1973. It may have been what was needed then, but we desperately need to modernize our approach.
At the heart of every successful organization is love for what you do. It is really about why you do it. Cal South cannot be focused only on what we do. We must shift our focus to why we do it.
We serve our members so they may help players, coaches, and referees reach their goals and achieve their dreams.
It is our responsibility to help them with their journey.
This is why we must passionately work to serve our members as if their journey depends on us. Soccer has the power to change lives for the better.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you want to accomplish in a new term as president of Cal South?
Derek Barraza: I would like to return Cal South to its rightful owners, our members. We have become so insulated at the leadership level, we must engage our members and work more closely with them.
I will appoint members to leadership roles and make sure that all we do is focused on delivering value and service to our members. My priority in this term is to work with the members to complete the transformation of Cal South.
Diane Scavuzzo: How large is Cal South —as compared to other state associations?
Derek Barraza: Cal South is the largest state association in U.S. Soccer.
More importantly, Cal South is recognized as the top state association in player development. We are leaders in just about every important aspect of soccer development. Excellence in soccer is our trademark.
I would like to point out that size is only one metric. Quality is even more important.
We must evolve Cal South to continually strive for excellence. Our stated goal of “One million members by 2027” means very little if we do not have one million happy members.
Diane Scavuzzo: Where is the greatest need?
Derek Barraza: There are numerous benefits and services to serve our member’s needs. The need to reach the players outside the U.S. Soccer system — the unaffiliated players — is often mentioned.
Addressing the high costs of playing soccer or pay-to-play, the shortage of suitable fields, the high attrition rate after ages six and twelve is also important. We have identified a huge disparity among women in coaching, refereeing, and leadership roles. All of these issues are significant needs that we must address.
For Cal South to take a strong leadership role in solving these issues, we must evolve into a true membership development organization. We must move beyond just providing great services.
Membership development is about helping our members become better.
This is done by sharing knowledge of best practices, communicating the latest in technical development, helping to certify more coaches and referees at higher levels, helping to develop players at every level, and educating parents on topics from a basic understanding of the game as well as helping their kids live healthy lifestyles.
Diane Scavuzzo: How can Cal South help grow the game of soccer in Southern California?
Derek Barraza: As we evolve our association, we will continue to invest in our membership.
Cal South has the resources and capabilities to bring together our members, community service providers, local, state, and national resources, and the Cal South network, including U.S. Soccer, to build synergies to grow the game throughout Southern California.
Most importantly, we must concentrate on building the fertile environment where growth is nurtured and encouraged.
One key factor is to simplify Cal South’s numerous rules and policies.
Another is to enable and create partnerships as mentioned above. These are significant components to create the environment necessary for growth.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does Cal South offer its members?
Derek Barraza: We provide the services and programs to support our members. Cal South delivers multiple insurance services including Directors and Officers for our affiliate’s board members, soccer accident insurance, and field certificates.
In our roll as U.S. Soccer Federation’s representative in Southern California, we credential players, referees, coaches, and administrators. Each requires some level of training to attain their credentials.
Cal South builds a community where our members can enjoy the value of their credential. We provide competitions and events where our members gather to enjoy the beautiful game. Players, coaches, and referees all find development opportunities in Cal South programs.
Cal South advocates on behalf of our members. Working with local, regional and national organizations, we always put the needs of our members first.
As we look toward the future, we must reintroduce the Leadership Academy. This type of training is not readily available to leaders in the soccer community. We should provide this specialized leadership development for our members as a value of membership.
Leadership development helps our members run better programs, builds a leadership pipeline for the future, and contributes to succession planning for Cal South and its affiliate members.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do most youth soccer players know that they are members of Cal South?
Derek Barraza: A larger percentage of young players are aware of their league and club’s connection with Cal South. However, we need to continue to build relationships with the players, coaches, referees, and parents. Much like Coca-Cola, we want to be a brand that customers demand.
Diane Scavuzzo: Finally, what are your thoughts on pay-to-play? And how do you believe U.S. Soccer can help and or should help Cal South grow the game?
Derek Barraza: Pay-to-play remains a hot topic. In the most recent US Soccer presidential election, all eight candidates acknowledged the challenge and proposed various solutions.
Carlos Cordeiro, the newly elected U.S. Soccer President, has promised to eliminate some fees.
This will provide funding back to Cal South that could be used to create new programs.
Additionally, he stated his goal of making the Olympic Development Program (ODP) low cost or no cost.
Cal South has already done this with Pro+, our version of ODP. These two initiatives will certainly help make a dent in the pay-to-play challenge. However, we have far more challenges ahead to come close to solving this issue.
The current Development Academy (DA) model is very costly. It is not clear that it is producing the expected results. I believe it is necessary to re-evaluate the program and look for ways to improve the model.
I am certain we have large groups of very talented players outside the system.
Costs are definitely a factor keeping them outside the system. Costs also place a heavy burden on families in the program and may be a reason for those that have already left the program. We can do better.
Here is Derek Barraza’s open letter to the Cal South membership:
Dear Cal South Member,
I am asking for your vote for re-election as Cal South President. Voting ends Thursday, February 15 at 5:00 pm. Each club/league President should have received an email from Cal South NEC Committee with voting instructions. Make sure your vote is cast by the Thursday at 5:00 pm.
I attended the US Soccer Federation Annual General Meeting (AGM) where Carlos Cordeiro was elected US Soccer President from a field of eight candidates. This was a historic election and now Carlos will begin working to change and improve US Soccer.
In my conversations with Carlos, I stressed the importance of working collaboratively with Cal South and all the members of US Soccer. I believe the US Soccer President must collaborate with members to develop the best possible solutions to achieve our goals.
With the support of our members, we can do the same for Cal South. Soccer is the beautiful game that has the power to unite people. When Cal South leadership unites with a well-informed and empowered membership, we can accomplish anything!
In my previous emails, I described a vision for the future, the action steps required to achieve that vision, specific member focused task forces to address key areas to improve Cal South, and shared my values and passion for the game and the members who serve the game, players, coaches, referees, and administrators. I remain the voice of the membership at Cal South and am committed to working to improve our association.
My goals during the first 100 days of this term are to initiate work on the following projects:
Remove Barriers – Estimated completion time 6-9 months
I will appoint a special commission task force of members to perform an extensive review and rewrite of the current Cal South bylaws, rules and regulations, operation manuals, and policies. For far too long we have limited review and maintenance of these documents only to those serving on the board. We are not leveraging the experts, our members. This has led to outdated policies that create artificial barriers that do not serve the member’s needs. The revised governing documents will be submitted for approval at a special meeting of the members.
Strategic Plan – Estimated completion time – 3 months
Cal South has had a strategic plan for many years. The most current form of the plan was approved prior to my taking office in 2012. We already work with the Palladian consultants and our staff maintains the plan where it is reviewed at our quarterly Strategic Review Meetings (SRM). What we have not done is shared the plan with our members. Therefore, I will schedule an open session Strategic Review Meeting and invite the membership to attend. At this meeting we will share our overall strategic plan, discuss progress toward our goals, and challenges in Cal South.
Transparency – Estimated completion time – 1-6 months
Transparency is a way of doing business. We have been challenged to be more transparent and have not lived up to this challenge. As stated in my email dated February 3rd, I will appoint a membership task force to help improve Cal South programs and member services. The tasks include:
• Review Cal South’s performance and create recommendations for performance improvement.
• Review the Quantum Governance Report and Recommendations.
• Propose bylaw changes to reform and improve Cal South’s governance and performance.
We have drifted away from our mission to serve our members, we must fix this. We will work with our members to better serve their needs. By passionately serving our members, we will change Cal South into a member-focused, customer-service based organization. I look forward to working with our members to achieve this goal.
Please join us at the Cal South AGM Saturday, February 17 at 9 am at the Long Beach Renaissance Hotel. I have heard your concerns and understand your frustration. This is a great opportunity to have your voice heard by Cal South Leadership.
Related Article: Cal South Leadership Academy