Just finished reading an article about high school vs club soccer. There seems to be a push in our country for players to do one or the other, but not both. I, for one, do not understand this. The premise is that in order for players to develop, we must move them away from the context of high school soccer so that they can develop at a higher level. Really? I concede that HS soccer, in a lot of ways is not high level play, that sides have varying talent pools and that sometimes, coaches are not of the caliber that one would/could find in a club setting. BUT- when was the last time you were at a club match and the sidelines were occupied by more than family and a few friends? High School matches are usually much better represented with students, administrators and family, and that, is why a good many wish to play in that setting.
It seems to me that both club and High School soccer serve similar but different aspects of a player’s composition. Club is about the individual player and their improvement, their ability to work within a team construct for something other than pride of place. While HS on the other hand, for a lot of players is going to be the pinnacle of their soccer experience. Some will actually go on to play at a college, but usually not at the college of their choice. A student athlete’s time at high school should be about preparing them to move forward in life, HS soccer does so much more than just teach the game- there is time management, conflict resolution, working for common goals and self assessment, just to name a few things HS soccer adds to a players “toolbox”.
There is a trend within the soccer community to allude to “scholorships” and “recruitment” within the soccer conversation. I pose the question- if we add up the fees, travel and expenses one incurrs pushing our players into increasingly more “elite” soccer experiences, how much have we invested to seek that “Holy Grail” of soccer- the college scholarship? Does the scholarship offset all that expense or is it, at best, a break even type of situation?
What I propose is simply this- encourage your player to play- wherever and when ever they can, after all, they play because they enjoy the game. Find the club situation that best fits the player and is comparable to their level of play. Don’ let anyone dissuade your player from playing high school soccer in any manner. Be in the stands and on the sidelines for all of their matches both club and HS. But above all, encourage your player to study, to take advantage of all of the learning lessons in front of them because the truth is, their minds will carry them much further than their feet will in life.
till I see you on the pitch