Presidio Soccer League and SDDA Provide the Right Environments for San Diego Youth Soccer Clubs
What is the difference between these two youth soccer leagues in Cal South?
When Rene Miramontes and Paolo Landini helped launched the San Diego Developmental Academy (SDDA), with assistance from Directors of Coaching Sami Nedjar (SD United), ChaCha Namdar (Scripps SC) and Frank Zimmerman (Oceanside Breakers) and support from the Presidio Soccer League, some wondered why Southern California needed with another youth soccer league. One year later, the success of SDDA is abundantly clear, but questions linger as to the differences between the two leagues in San Diego County.
For Miramontes, Director of Coaching at Crusaders Soccer Club (CSC) as well as SDDA Chairman, creating the new SDDA league was all about providing the best environment for development for every player on every club.
While some players are happy just to get out on the pitch and kick the ball around with their friends, others are passionate about the sport and hope to take their game as far and as high as possible. It was important to everyone involved to make sure that all youth soccer players in San Diego could find the right environment, either in Presidio or in SDDA.
“While they serve different purposes and different levels of players, both Presidio and the SDDA are important for the growth and development of youth soccer in San Diego,” points out Presidio Soccer League President Bob Turner, who was a strong supporter of the creation of the SDDA.
San Diego is America’s 8th largest city and Presidio Soccer League serves more than 18,000 players on 1,200 teams in 54 member clubs throughout San Diego and southern Riverside Counties.
San Diego’s youth soccer players vary from beginners just getting their first taste of the beautiful game to solid competitive players who may one day play at the college level. Divisions in Presidio range from AA-C to AAA, giving plenty of opportunities for players to find their niche.
“Presidio Soccer League has been around for years, and it’s a great venue for kids who are starting to learn how to play soccer and are developing,” Coronado Youth Soccer League (CYSL) and Nado Select Director of Coaching Manny Neves states. “There are more kids in Presidio than in SDDA, which is a more competitive league. Presidio is good for kids who are not ready for the more competitive environment.”
“Presidio Soccer League has been around for a long time for a reason,” says Carlsbad United F.C. Technical Director Steve Cowell. “It does offer a great service to the community and the players that play in its gaming league. It’s well organized and it provides the right level of competition for the teams that are in it. The games are usually tougher in SDDA, which is focused for the more development-oriented teams in San Diego. The SDDA is aimed to provide a place for the highest level teams to compete.”
The SDDA was created as an elite league that focuses on the development of players in the Presidio Soccer League region. More than just another league, it is an “evolution” in the way an organization focuses on player development.
Presidio Soccer League serves a real need for organizing games for thousands of youth soccer players, many who just want to play ball and have fun. One important difference with SDDA is that every club in the league must have a soccer development curriculum that coaches follow in the training of players. While winning is still important, the focus of the games in SDDA is more on the development of the players. With thousands of boys and girls playing soccer in one of America’s largest cities and the surrounding county, Miramontes and SDDA’s other founders wanted to provide increased opportunities for true development.
“Soccer for me is not only about the development of the kids in sports but in life as well,” says Neves. “If you succeed in sports it can help you succeed in life as well. We want to help develop kids to be good players on and off the field.”
When youth soccer club directors of coaching come together on a regular basis, everyone wins. “SDDA is more a movement than a gaming league,” according to Cowell. “I think any time that a group of clubs and Directors can come together for the good of the game and the good of coaching and the kids, and communicate and be open and be honest and share ideas, it’s only going to be a winner. I think it was obviously born out of a need to do something because of the way that everything changed in youth soccer.”
One of those “changes” was the movement of San Diego area clubs and teams from Presidio to leagues such as Coast Soccer League (CSL) and the Southern California Developmental Soccer League (SCDSL), another coach-led youth soccer league. While clubs were able to find some higher level competition in those leagues, since these leagues were based primarily in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, away games were on fields north of San Diego. The SDDA provides the opportunity for clubs and teams to find higher level competition in their own backyard.
“SDDA is trying to develop another venue for competition for teams to stay in San Diego Country rather than going north to Coast soccer or SCDSL,” Neves explains. “Rene has developed a program with clubs that are teaching players the right way to play soccer, not just kick and run. We’re trying to develop the SDDA with competitive clubs that are focused on developing players.”
With the second season of SDDA set to begin at the end of the summer, Miramontes and the other Directors have been focused on continuing what worked well the first year and applying the lessons learned. The Showcase Events the league held were a key element in creating the right environment for enhancing player development, and the league plans to expand on those. Other changes in the works are designed to increase the participation of all clubs beyond simply attending matches and Showcase Events.
“I do feel like the SDDA is more development-oriented,” says Cowell. “I think the soccer showcase events really help with that. And I think just being accountable and seeing these DOCs and clubs on a bi-weekly basis at meetings really makes sure that you’re working together and that you have that focus, rather than trying to get one-up on each other all the time.”
“It’s a good mix, having both leagues,” says Neves. “Presidio is super important for the kids in San Diego. Some of our lower level teams are in Presidio; the more competitive teams move to SDDA. It’s important to have both options available.”