Rene Miramontes Looks Ahead to League’s Second Season
When Crusaders Soccer Club Director of Coaching Rene Miramontes joined with his Hotspurs USA counterpart, Paolo Landini, in taking the first steps in the creation of the San Diego Developmental Academy (SDDA), neither realized how quickly it would exceed all expectations. With input from fellow DOCs ChaCha Namdar of Scripps United, Sami Nedjar of SD United and Frank Zimmerman of Oceanside Breakers, and supported by Presidio Soccer League President Bob Turner, the new league rapidly took shape.
The original goal was to provide a small number of San Diego area teams with a higher level of play, but with a focus on development rather than competition. The founders had hoped for as many as 150 teams, but eventually more than 600 applied and 400 were accepted into the U8-U18 program. With the focus still on shifting the focus of young soccer players and their parents from simply winning to long-term skill development, SDDA prepares to launch its second season. The first year brought many learning opportunities for the directors as well as the players, and Miramontes and his administration team are ready to put those lessons into practice.
Recently, Miramontes shared his thoughts about what was learned from the first SDDA season and what his goals are for the upcoming season with SoccerNation News.
Diane Scavuzzo: What did you learn from the first SDDA season?
Rene Miramontes: There were a number of lessons learned, but the two main ones are the following: First, that the San Diego soccer community can work together towards a common goal that goes beyond personal and club interests. Second, that San Diego has the leadership and the resources to launch successful projects of this magnitude.
Diane Scavuzzo: How are you implementing the lessons learned for the new season?
Rene Miramontes: First of all by being more efficient in the way business is conducted at the SDDA and by correcting existing deficiencies. At the same time, we are anticipating potential situations that would hinder the development of the league or the goals it has set for itself.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were the biggest surprises in your first season?
Rene Miramontes: I think I can best sum this up in two words: Cooperation and Momentum. It was nothing short of astounding how quickly the San Diego community came together to make this project a reality. Once the project was underway, it was fantastic to see the momentum and energy continue. I expect this upcoming season to be better than the inaugural season.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were the biggest challenges you faced and how do you plan to address them for the new season?
Rene Miramontes: There were a number of challenges that we faced year one. In my estimation the very first one, and more than anything it is a disappointment, is the limited participation from some Directors of Coaching. They wanted the benefits that the league offered, but their contribution was nil or very minimal. The best example I can give is the showcase events. There are still DOCs from member clubs that, to this date, don’t even know what they look like. They were never around.
Another example that comes to mind is attendance at league meetings. In some cases, the only time they made an appearance was at seeding meetings to place one team or another where they wanted it placed. Other DOCs are simply content with sending a representative and don’t bother to see for themselves where the league is heading. In both cases, there is no participation in league affairs.
The SDDA was founded on the premise that it was going to be a place for growth and cooperation and not just a gaming league. The focus of player development remains at the top of the list, and yet we have these individuals running successful clubs who don’t bother to attend a meeting and help shape the future of the league. However, measures are being developed to correct this situation.
First, a minimum attendance requirement has been instituted, where each club must have a minimum of 80% attendance at league meetings. The second measure that is still being developed is the appointment of DOCs as evaluators at Showcase events. We need their experience in assessing the progress of our players. To never attend a Showcase event where their teams are participating is simply inexcusable and will be addressed this coming season.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your main goals for the second SDDA season?
Rene Miramontes: The number one goal of the league is to refine our rules and regulations. Last season we faced several situations that have led the membership to take a closer look at our rules and adjust them to better serve the needs of the game, as well as the long-term athlete development concept.
The second goal for this season is to offer more to our players and coaches. We will be exploring ways to better expose our players to ODP and college opportunities. On the coaching front, we are looking for avenues to increase the technical knowledge of the league by bringing in courses or guest presenters that would make our coaches more efficient. Finally, we are looking for better ways to communicate with our soccer community better. The website will be updated and we continue to look for ways to improve the day-to-day operations of the league.
We must to continue to move forward and avoid complacency. In relation to what we set out to accomplish, we have not done anything yet, so we must strive continuously to reach higher and bigger goals for the membership and our players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would help the second SDDA season be an even greater success than the first season?
Rene Miramontes: I believe the accomplishment of the goals I have mentioned before will have a tremendous impact on the league and will add to the existing success. The only additional one that I can think of and hope for is more participation from the veteran directors of coaching in San Diego, which would take this league to a higher level.
Diane Scavuzzo: What impact have you seen in youth soccer in San Diego from the first SDDA season?
Rene Miramontes: One word: Awareness. This league has brought many local clubs together and it has exposed everyone to a higher and different way of affecting player development. Asking right from the start for an operating coaching curriculum in order to be accepted, as well as demanding a minimum coaching standard, forced clubs to either develop one – which as astounding as this may seem, some did not have – or to reflect and modify their existing one.
To speak of an impact on the field, I believe is premature. We still have a few seasons to go in order to accomplish this, but I’m sure there are individual cases where players are reaching new heights in their development because of the environment provided by the SDDA. Also, San Diego teams have maintained their competitiveness at the different levels of cup play against L.A. teams. There is no doubt there is still plenty of room to grow, but for now we are maintaining and still close in comparison to preeminent clubs in the North.
Diane Scavuzzo: What other thoughts do you have about the upcoming SDDA season?
Rene Miramontes: On a personal note, it is reassuring to see younger DOCs come on the scene. Currently, there are quite a number of younger coaches that are in charge of programs. I believe that as the league grows so will they, and in time, not only will they make their programs better but the league will also benefit from their growth and energy. I believe that the future of the SDDA, as well as the game in San Diego, is in good hands.
Photo Credits: Stephen Prendergast, Jay Coulter/JayCPhotos