Saturday, June 30, 2012

MLS - EPL - EURO 2012 - Are the kids watching?

With so much soccer available on TV these days, it blows me away as to how many young people who play have never watched a game from beginning to end.

I have troubling understanding how that's possible, as it hasn't been a problem with our extended family.  Even with Euro 2012 and all of the big names, I know some of my players have not taken in an entire match.

Where does my duty as a coach end?  On the field?  Making them passionate by introducing them to professional soccer? Is it appropriate for a coach to make plans that will cost parents more money and time?
One of the biggest marketing problems with North American soccer has been turning the incredible number of youth players into paying spectators.  People do not realize that in Canada there are more youth soccer players than ice hockey!  But getting somebody to a professional match a second time is very easy, after they experience the environment.

Some people will say tey want to see Europena football ... well, we don't live in Europe.  MLS matches have proven very entertaining and fun for the fans.  In 2011, MLS attendance average was higher than the top leagues of Scotland, Australia, Japan, Belgium, most of the South American leagues and all of the pro leagues in England (except EPL).

Whether watching on TV or live, there is so much for young people to see and emulate from high level professionals.  Ideas, styles and learning happens when a young set of eyes are watching the sport played correctly.  Great examples are young players emulating the NHL players while playing street hockey or young American basketball players mimicking their idols on street courts.

In 2012, seeing soccer at high levels is not a challenge.  The Canadian Soccer League has teams all over Ontario and Toronto FC is within a 2 hour drive of most of the population.  Soccer is available on TV at TSN, SportsNet, The Score, TeleLatino, Gol TVand ESPN.  We see soccer from all over the world on our screens.

Canada's Men's National Team is now playing all their home games in Toronto.

Most players rarely touch a ball away from the team environment and never watch the game on TV.  Everything they know comes from their own discovery and the coach's lips.  That's not enough.

The reality just may be that soccer will always fight the "participation sport" mentality.

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