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U.S. Soccer Hosts Youth Coaches From Across the Nation in Bradenton, Fla.

Director of Coaching Bob Jenkins Invites Youth Club
and ODP Coaches To Florida; Coaches Interact With Youth National Teams

CHICAGO (March 18, 2005) - U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams are constantly jetting around the country or around the world, whether it’s a U-18 Men’s National Team camp in California, a tournament in Northern Ireland for the U-17 Men’s National Team or a trip to Mexico for the U-15 Boys’ National Team.

So, in early March when the U-18 MNT and U-15 BNT were holding training camps alongside the U-17 Residency Program (U-17 and U-16 aged players) at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Bob Jenkins saw an opportunity. He invited a number of coaches across the nation to the Sunshine State for a week to gain first-hand knowledge about how the youth national programs are handled and to discuss issues involving youth development with the National Team coaches.

“I wanted to take advantage of all the youth teams being in one place because it doesn’t happen all the time,” said Jenkins, who is also the coach of U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team. “I invited in regional ODP coaches, the technical directors for each region and club coaches from across the nation.”

The 22 coaches in attendance had the chance to be a part of everything going on in each of the national team programs. The coaches were split up with each group, getting the opportunity to spend time with the U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 age groups at some point during the week. Coaches who attended also received four Continuing Education Credits towards renewing their “A” License.

“We talked to them before sessions and then let them get right in and listen to what we were talking to the players about during training and during games,” said Jenkins.  “They were allowed to be right around the bench, they were allowed to listen to our pre-game, halftime and post-game talks. They got a very inside look into how the youth national teams work.”

At the end of each day, the invited coaches got the chance to sit down, ask questions and discuss issues with all of U.S. Soccer’s national youth coaches, including U-17 head coach John Hackworth, U-15 head coach Jim Barlow, U-14 Boys technical director Manny Schellscheidt, who was there assisting with the U-15s, and Jenkins. Hackworth also provided the coaches the opportunity to sit in on specific meetings related to U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program.

“There were a lot of good coaches at the event, but I think they would like some help from U.S. Soccer with direction in terms of how to educate parents and players in their community,” said event attendee Shaun Docking, the director of coaching for USYSA Region III ODP and head coach of Coastal Carolina University. “Programs like this provide a structure that the coaches can take back to their kids.”

Mike Matkovich, who is the director of coaching for the Chicago Magic and a Region II ODP coach, also traveled down to Bradenton for the week and said one of the most important aspects of the event was that it set a foundation of communication with the national teams.

“Most of the time the club coaches are the guys spending nine to 10 months helping develop the kids and I think there needs to be more communication,” Matkovich said. “It was very beneficial for all the coaches to have the chance to discuss information about what we were thinking, what was going on with the clubs and where we are headed.”

Jenkins agreed, stating that since the club and regional coaches are doing the lion’s share of coaching the players, it is important for the national teams to include them in the process of youth development.

“A big part of it was to open the lines of communication with everyone,” said Jenkins. “The more everybody knows each other, works with each other and meets with each other face to face, I think the easier things and more smoothly things work.”

Part of that communication includes making sure a clear calendar of events will be established in the near future to help eliminate overlapping from club, regional and national team commitments for players.

“A lot of the best players have conflicts in terms of calendar issues,” said Docking. “Some kids are with their clubs and then asked to play with their regional team or a U.S. Soccer national team at the same time. These kids get toggled around.”

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