Great Coaches on Great Soccer: Colin Chesters is the Director of Coaching at the San Diego Surf Soccer Club at the back Polo Fields in Del Mar, CA
Youth Soccer News: Colin Chesters on Youth Soccer in Southern California
Colin Chesters is the Director of Coaching for San Diego Surf Soccer Club and is well known in the world of youth soccer. A former professional soccer player, Chesters played for 4 years for Derby County FC in the English Premier League, 3 years with Crewe Alexandra in the English 3rd Division and 3 years for Northwich Victoria in the Conference League. Chesters was the leading scorer in the Conference League for two seasons, won the FA Trophy and played twice at Wembley. Chesters also had a Club Record signing for Crewe Alexandra.
A dedicated professional, Chesters has spent decades working with youth soccer players. Refreshingly honest and always outspoken, SoccerNation News interviewed Chesters on his thoughts on the ever-changing landscape of youth soccer; how the top tier teams are playing ECNL and U.S. Academy, on borrowing players, and on the launch of the new SCDSL.
SNN: Cal South is the primary organizer of youth soccer in Southern California. US Club Soccer has just hired former CHIVAS USA Academy Director, Sacha van der Most, and is working on becoming a stronger presence in Southern California. Is youth soccer changing in Southern California?
Colin Chesters: Southern California youth soccer is really run by Cal South. I don’t ever see this changing. There are some US Soccer Club events, for instance, Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) that was founded in 2009 to develop female youth soccer. ECNL is the highest, most competitive league for Girls, but everything else, with the exception of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy for Boys, is run by Cal South.
SN: I heard that ECNL teams are not going to compete in Cal South State Cups. Why is this?
Colin Chesters: ECNL teams will not be going to Regional and National competitions because they have their own ECNL Regional and National competitions. It’s too difficult and expensive to do both.
SNN Note: Steve Hoffman, Director of Coaching at Cal South, acknowledges that many of the top tier elite players are in ECNL and the U.S. Development Academies and says, “It’s a loss that the ECNL and Academy players will not be competing in Cal South State Cup and National Cup competitions, but if it is better for these kids, better for the game, then it is absolutely better. And this provides the lower end of everyone’s roster to have more playing time and to develop." (Read complete article on Steve Hoffman on Cal South Soccer - Click here)
SN: How is the new Southern California Development League (SCDSL)?
Colin Chesters: It’s going well. Obviously, it’s a new league and there are learning curves, but the competition’s right, the coaching’s right, the rules are right. It is a success.
SN: What has been the greatest challenge?
Colin Chesters: For me as the Director of Coaching at Surf, the greatest challenge has been the logistics with coaching conflicts. There have been coaches with games in LA and San Diego on the same day. That’s a definite challenge.
SN: Are you pleased that you were one of the founding members of SCSDL?
Colin Chesters: Yes. Maybe we’re playing slightly too many games this year, but the idea is right. It’s a better option than what was in play before. More changes will continue to improve the landscape of youth soccer. The changes come from the ongoing dialogues among all these top club directors at SCDSL discussing how we can improve youth soccer.
SNN: ‘Borrowing’ players for tournaments can sometimes be controversial. What is the official Cal South position on borrowing a soccer player?
Colin Chesters: Cal South says you can borrow. You can’t stop a kid from playing for whoever he wants to play for whenever he wants to play.
It can be healthy for the player to be borrowed, or it can lead to a burn-out situation. Now, if a kid just wants to play every weekend and the coach feels he needs a little bit of down time, then I don’t think it’s healthy. But if a kid’s coming back from injury or if he is not getting the minutes on the soccer field that he needs to develop as a player or if he or she is learning a new position and there are loan opportunities that come up, then it’s beneficial. I think it’s a case-by-case.
SNN: What is the Surf Soccer Club’s position on players being borrowed by other clubs for soccer tournaments?
Colin Chesters: Players can be borrowed if the coach approves.
It is simple. The coach can decide on an individual basis, “Hey, this player can benefit from extra playing time” or “this player has been playing a lot and probably could benefit from a weekend off before another big weekend.” I think the coaches are pretty fair with their assessments and are most interested in player development.
SNN: Sometimes being borrowed is a preview to being recruited. Is that something that coaches are concerned about or that players need to be aware of?
Colin Chesters: I think there is an element of recruiting to loan situations. But again, if you take care of your own business and run your club right, then it shouldn’t be a big issue. I don’t really worry about this.
But let’s be honest, I think clubs and coaches do use ‘borrowing’ players as a recruiting tool.
If everybody is above board then ‘borrowing’ players can be beneficial. But people bend the rules. They say they’re doing it for ‘X’ reason but then they do it for ‘Y’ reason and then it gets complicated and messy. Most of the stronger clubs have three or four teams per age bracket, so the clubs themselves can provide loaning opportunities within the clubs.
SN: Finally, what do you think about mismatches in some leagues, where you might end up with an 8-0 score in a game?
Colin Chesters: It’s not good for anybody, really, but it happens no matter what league you’re in or what level of play that you’re in. Manchester United scored 8 on Arsenal the other week.
I think most coaches who have been around and really do their job correctly ought to get creative in those situations when there is a mismatch. They don’t want to be on the receiving end of that sort of situation. It’s beyond me when I see 15-0 scores in the U10s. Surely there’s something you can do.
For example, play your bench more and sub off your star player(s). If you play all your backs up front and your forwards in the back it will slow itself down.
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