Southern California Development Soccer League’s Impact
The end of the monopoly. Southern California Development Soccer League breaks the soccer monopoly on player leagues in Southern California. SoccerToday interviewed Bob Turner, President of Presidio Soccer League.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your thoughts on the new Southern California Development Soccer League (SCDSL)?
Bob Turner: In many ways the new Southern California Development Soccer League is positive for the development of youth soccer and will not impact San Diego’s Presidio Soccer League as much as it will the Coast Soccer League (CSL).
I really do not think the intention of this league was to impact San Diego.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think the idea is behind the Southern California Development Soccer League?
Bob Turner: Initially, U.S. Soccer’s idea was to create a place for the top soccer teams to play. The idea was only to affect approximately the top 10% of teams in an age bracket, to help further develop the soccer players. The concept was not to affect the lower, bronze level (not to be disrespectful) teams.
Diane Scavuzzo: There are several San Diego soccer clubs that have teams participating in Coast Soccer League (CSL) and in Presidio Soccer League. Why is this?
Bob Turner: Presidio has a wide range of players; from just above recreational players all the way to our Premier bracket in which some of the best teams compete. Presidio has 1100 teams while Coast Soccer League has 2800 teams. There is a lot more opportunity for higher competition in Coast than in Presidio, merely because of the number of teams.
Unfortunately, some of San Diego teams leave Presidio seeking higher competition and though we don’t like it, we understand.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is it so difficult for coaches and leagues to get along? Is Coast Soccer League hard to work with?
Bob Turner: I don’t work with Coast, but the allegations that Gary Sparks and Coast are hard to work with, I think they are probably true from some DOC’s standpoint. But most Directors of Coaching (DOC) are not familiar with all the administration issues of running a league.
Directors of Coaching are good at recruiting and coaching players but administrating a club requires a lot of procedures and rules. Coast probably does rule with an iron fist, as does Presidio, in certain areas.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can I quote on this?
Bob Turner: Yes. Presidio has rules as well. As a member run league, our rules are voted on and agreed to by our members. No one dictates at Presidio. Our soccer clubs make the rules but some people still get upset and don’t like the rules. Not all Coaches are as concerned or up to date on all administration procedures.
I have been doing this for twenty (20) years. What I wonder is how are the founding DOCs going to find the time to do all of this? It is a full time job. Running a league is a full time deal.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the greatest challenges in running a league?
Bob Turner: Organizing and scheduling. Keeping track of all the infractions and enforcing all the agreed upon rules. For instance, when a player gets a fourth yellow card, did he sit out a game? There are enormous amounts of details to keep track of.
More time is spent on the lower level teams. The upper level teams have a better understanding for the game of soccer and they really come to play the game. The lower level teams are more prone to injury as their players are more physical and less technically skilled; less experienced and have more issues to resolve. Our premier level is easier to run.
Another huge issue is to keep balanced circuits.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are balanced circuits?
Bob Turner: Balanced circuits are making sure the proper teams are in the correct brackets so like-able teams play each other. Most of the time you can’t really trust DOC’S to tell you the correct information about their teams. Some are going to tell you that a team is really good and then is it not or they might say a team isn’t really that good and then that team ends up dominating the bracket. Either way, it isn’t the best thing for all the players.
In Presidio, we have a careful system of promotion and regulation. If a team wins their bracket, they can move up to the next level of competition within the age range. If a team ends up at the bottom of their bracket, then they can be forced to play ‘down’ in the next lower bracket. This keeps the circuit balanced.
Competition keeps players motivated. If you win, you move up. If you lose, you move down. It is the same with schools and grades. It is part of society. A teacher will give out an ‘A’ or a ‘C’ and group children together who are at the same level. Like-ability teams should play each other.
Some people say there is too much emphasis on winning; that it detracts from player development. That coaches coach to win. Developing players throughout the week at soccer practice is a great idea. Well trained players should do well. The system of promotion and regulation works well at Presidio. Otherwise, what incentive is there for teams to do well if there is no accountability?
Diane Scavuzzo: The new SCDSL is focused on player development and may not use this type of system. What are your thoughts?
Bob Turner: For the very top echelon of players, this might work well as they are playing the game to get better but a lot of soccer players are playing to win. U.S. Soccer is coming up with these models to help serious soccer players develop and it is great but these ideas do not apply to all players. Parents have to be really committed to the program and willing and able to have their child participate in all the practices and now games all over Orange County and LA.
Some of the thought process is good, but does our society really not want to keep score? I am a father of a 5 year old and now find myself back on the soccer field and parents on the sidelines are the biggest problem. I can tell you even the 5 year olds keep score. I am not sure about how well not maintaining standings and results will work for any age.
Diane Scavuzzo: There has been controversy over whether or not DOCs can run a league. Any comment?
Bob Turner: The founding clubs’ DOCs are going to have to hire an Administrator to work for them. The challenge will be finding someone strong enough to stand up to them while creating and enforcing the rules.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the most often disputed rule?
Bob Turner: Reschedules. Directors of Coaching always have different ideas on reschedules. It can become a mess. Coast has a policy of no reschedules. Presidio has just changed our rules on reschedules. We reminded everyone when the Jewish Holidays are on the calendar and when the SATs are scheduled. Why there is a fuss at the last minute for reschedules? Unfortunately, there were still a lot of upset people this year. Hopefully everyone will know the policy going forward.
Diane Scavuzzo: Any final thoughts?
Bob Turner: In a perfect world, the Southern California Development Soccer League should just focus on the top teams and leave the rest where they are. The new league should go back to the model of the Elite of the Elite.
All these DOCs should be locked in a room with Gary Sparks from Coast Soccer League, and I would be there too, and no one would be allowed to leave until there was a better solution.
The better teams already are leaving Presidio. No, we don’t like it but the level of competition dictates that they have to go find a higher level to play.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is there so many rumors and such speculation about this new League?
Bob Turner: A lot of soccer club directors, who are not part of the new league, are worried that these founding clubs are going to decide what level their teams will play. Hopefully some of this will be resolved soon.
Also, a lot of worry is over whether or not the new league is going to ‘steal’ or ‘poach’ players from the clubs in Presidio. A lot of club directors are worried about this. But in reality, everyone is doing this. All the clubs’ coaches are poaching kids from other clubs. This is nothing new.
Diane Scavuzzo: One last question, are there tensions between the two San Diego clubs in Southern California Development Soccer League, Nomads and Surf, and Presidio Soccer League?
Bob Turner: Oh, the rumors? No one is really talking about the Nomads Soccer Club. Do I want Surf Soccer Club to take their teams to the new league? No! Surf is a dominate club with some of the best girls teams in the country.
Many Surf teams play up a year (or two) in Presidio and in some cases, the Surf teams still win. There is a joke that there is a Surf Circuit in some age brackets where Surf teams are playing other Surf teams. These teams should have been playing in Coast all along.
Once again, Gary Sparks and Colin Chesters, Director of Coaching for Surf, should have been locked in a room until they can work out a resolution. It is not fair for any of the kids. The players in Coast do not get to play some of the best teams in their age bracket as Surf is not allowed to participate in Coast.
We all have choices, and that doesn’t mean we have to take them. Not having Surf being part of Presidio is not what is in the best interest of Presidio overall. There is a point where it might not make sense for a club to be participating in Presidio if they do not have enough of their teams represented.
The important focus is the development of youth soccer. We are here for the game of soccer.