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Q & A: U.S. Soccer's Director of Coaching Education Dave Chesler Discusses His Role and What's Ahead caught up with U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Education, Dave Chesler, after his recent trip to Brazil as part of a U.S. Soccer CoachesNet international educational workshop. Chesler discusses his role with U.S. Soccer as well as his trip to Brazil and upcoming events with U.S. Soccer's Coaching Education Department. You’ve been involved in coaching for close to thirty years and you’ve also been with a few U.S. National Teams in the past. What is your background in soccer and what ultimately drew you to coaching?
Dave Chesler: “I think I have a pretty typical background for U.S. coaching. I grew up playing soccer in the urban areas of San Francisco as a youth, played in college at the University of Washington and I’m a teacher by profession and that sort of evolved into a coaching career.” What interested you about the position of U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Education and what are the demands for a role like this?
DC: “I think the obvious interest is that it’s really a pinnacle for the sport. It’s not only the highest level of play but it’s also the biggest and greatest challenge in terms of coaching education and leading our sport forward into the future. That in itself is attractive, but a large part of the demand is galvanizing the many parts of our soccer community. We’ve got several youth organizations, we have several components to our elite side and I think a big part of coaching education is galvanizing those parts and moving them together.” There are obviously plenty of facets involved in the position but what are some of the immediate goals?
DC: “I think the most immediate goal is taking a look at our courses, assessing where we are with them and moving our courses towards what’s happening on an international level of the modern game. A large part of that is reviewing the content, working with Zone I of our Player Development and making sure our coaches are on board with the curriculum and content that’s going to be released soon.” You were recently in Brazil for an international educational workshop. You and 37 coaches went there, saw four professional games, visited four professional clubs and heard lectures from coaches. How was that experience and what did you learn from traveling there?
DC: “It was invaluable. The passion and the way the sport is woven into their culture is amazing. I think a large part of the learning experience was confirming that we do many things right in this country in terms of player development. The other side is also confirming their passion, structure and organization are well engrained in their society and the development of players is at a much higher level than it is here right now.” The next CoachesNet International Educational Workshop will take place from April 29 through May 6 in Germany and the Netherlands, two countries that, like Brazil, have the game woven into their cultural fabrics. What do coaches gain from these programs?
DC: “It’s an obvious statement but the unfiltered look at these soccer cultures; these international experiences really are invaluable in that regard. Being able to observe, take in and ask questions directly without having the experience filtered through a book or a video or a technical staff here in the United States is the most important part. The exciting part of these two countries is that both have a very structured, organized and coherent plan for their youth development. Germany has recently restructured after the 2008 European Championships, realizing that they needed more emphasis on youth development, so were going to get a key look inside that system. Holland obviously has a very rich cultural heritage with soccer and we’ll get to experience that as well. It’s a very exciting combination.” In the U.S. there is also an important event coming up this month. The U.S. Soccer and SPARQ Player Development Summit is set to take place at Nike’s international headquarters from April 19-21. It will feature the debut of U.S. Soccer’s Zone I Coaching Curriculum. How will this curriculum impact the next phase of player development in this country?
DC: “I used the term galvanize earlier and I think that’s probably the most important part. We will have components from all the domains of youth and professional soccer at that summit. We’ll all be in the same room and it’s a chance to present a curriculum that’s really focused on developing the next wave of elite players in this country. Having a coherent single message with all of those people in the same environment is very important. It’s a key event in our development.”