A New Series on Creating Good Leadership In Youth Soccer
As the popularity of soccer increases all across America, it is more important than ever that we have excellence in leadership on all levels of the game … from youth soccer to the professional. Here is Part 1 of the 4-part series from Ruth Nicholson on the turmoil in youth soccer that needs great leadership.
Here is a ‘behind scenes story’ of a Director of Coaching being fired at a youth soccer club …
Imagine you are at the monthly Board of Directors meeting at a local soccer club. About fifteen parents and club volunteers are there, in addition to board members and the professional, paid staff of the club. The meeting lasts about as long as a soccer game and includes an agenda with the normal types of Board meeting topics.
The last item on the agenda concerns the Director of Coaching (DoC) who has worked for three years under his five-year contract.
Some of the new Board members do not like the DoC’s existing contract terms.
Although there have been conversations behind the scenes, the Board gives the DoC a public ultimatum at the meeting: accept the new contract terms, be demoted, or be terminated.
The DoC is fired on the spot.
As the last Board action of the meeting, the DoC job is immediately offered to another coach in the club.
That took less than 10 minutes but the impact for the club was monumental. Within a couple of months, all but one of the professional paid staff is gone.
National Youth Soccer Survey: Please participate in this short survey! Let me know what you think: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DoC_Separation_Survey
In Youth Soccer: The Issue
The above is a true story, although I left out the ugliest parts of it.
Over the past few months, I receive at least one call a month – sometimes multiple calls – from DoCs and members of Boards of Directors about a DoC who has been or is about to be fired.
Conflict and pain are immense in youth soccer.
The disruption to clubs, to coaches, to teams, to players, and to individual DoCs is enormous.
Many DoCs who have involuntarily left clubs through termination or resignation have left youth soccer altogether. This includes DoCs with decades of experience in the sport and in club management, in writing curriculum and publishing books, with A licenses, and with graduate degrees in education and other related fields.
In Youth Soccer: The Questions
In response, GO! has deployed a survey to gather information on DoCs that have left youth soccer organizations through termination or resignation. The purpose is to gather information about the issues and concerns that lead youth sports organizations to separate with their DoCs. The survey does not ask for names of individuals or organizations because GO! wants participants to be candid.
The results of the survey will be used to develop a series of articles for SoccerToday. They will also be used to develop targeted training and resources to help clubs, DoCs, and Boards of Directors work together to decrease and avoid painful involuntary separations.
Preliminary survey results will be presented at The Club Summit in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, February 25.
The session entitled Boards of Directors – Managing Dysfunction, presented by Ruth Nicholson, will include a discussion about the results and what Summit participants are experiencing in their relationships between DoCs and Boards of Directors.
Deadline for National Youth Soccer Survey is March 1st: Please participate in this short survey! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DoC_Separation_Survey
What is Next in SoccerToday
- Termination Terrors: Coaching Perspectives (Part 2 of 4)
- Termination Terrors: Perspectives from Boards of Directors (Part 3 of 4)
- Termination Terrors: Red Flags and Solutions (Part 4 of 4)
Ruth Nicholson is an internationally certified professional facilitator, mediator, and organizational alchemist helping youth sports organizations better support coaches, teams, and players. She is the founder of GO! offering proven governance, leadership, and administrative tools.
As a coach for TeamGenius, Ruth helps sports organizations develop assessment and feedback programs for players, coaches, and referees. She was a co-creator of the international 2019 Think Tank to Improve Youth Sports which engaged over 60 speakers from two dozen sports.
In 2018, Ruth was a finalist for the Hudl Innovator of the Year award for youth soccer. Her work has engaged coaches, sports professionals, and organizations in North America, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.