SoccerNation is spotlighting youth clubs from all over these United States of America. Powered by soccerloco, the SoccerNation Club Spotlight Series has already taken us all around Southern California and to some very special soccer spots across this great country. From the Hawaiian Islands to the Eastern Seaboard, we are on a mission to showcase the people and organizations helping to build the future of the beautiful game.
In the latest edition of this series, we catch up with Jason Aldous, Director of Coaching for Liverpool SC in the wake of a four-day training camp held in conjunction with TOVO Academy’s Todd Beane. Based in San Diego, California Liverpool SC is a unique organization with a very specific identity and mission.
Dike Anyiwo: Jason, thanks for taking the time. Tell us about your club. How many teams and coaches do you have?
Jason Aldous: Liverpool SC has 28 teams and is located on the eastern boarder of San Diego. We started from the roots of Howie Hawver as he parted ways with another local club. Through a few years we managed to bring several teams from a folding club under our wings and from there built some momentum and grew very quickly. We started out with the goal of advancing the coaching landscape and developing players with higher Football IQ.
Dike Anyiwo: What leagues do you play in?
Jason Aldous: Liverpool SC has teams participating in the Presidio League, SDDA and the Coast Soccer League. We have a recreational league that we call Reds Academy for players 3 – 6 years old (2013 – 2010). This program gives parents the option to have professional coaches working with players rather than just a volunteer parent that has time.
Dike Anyiwo: How would you describe your footballing philosophy?
Jason Aldous: Liverpool SC was founded on the idea that better coaches will develop better players. Over the last 6 years we have brought in coaches from all over the world to help our coaches develop. Coaches such as Malcolm Cook, Franz Hoek, John Kersenhaugt, Raymond Verheijen, Enrique Duran, and most recently Todd Beane and Michiel Ten Taken of TOVO. We have sent coaches over to Spain, Holland and England to learn from some of the best youth coaches around. On top of this, each year we run a 4 day coaches course of our own where we go into detail, outlining what we are aiming to accomplish as coaches with the players we have in front of us.
Dike Anyiwo: What prompted this partnership with TOVO?
Jason Aldous: The partnership with TOVO started from a blog post from Todd Beane. I reached out and immediately a relationship between like-minded people was built. A few weeks later I flew up to Seattle to attend a camp and watch Todd work. The TOVO methodology is in the same vein that our club trains in. The concepts of Positional Play by Todd Beane coming directly from the forefather of the method, Johan Cruyff, are like Gold to our coaches. Liverpool SC has a great foundation of this method but TOVO has helped us develop even further and our players/coaches are becoming even better already.
Dike Anyiwo: Is there a minimum license that you require coaches to have in order to take a team at Liverpool?
Jason Aldous: Liverpool SC has many coaches with Licenses on a National level but we understand that a license is not coaches education. Much like a driver license doesn’t actually mean that a person is a good driver, even though they are qualified to drive (coach). Our goal is to raise the standard of coaching so that the quality of players is higher in our area. We do this by spending time educating our coaches with top-level coaches education.
Dike Anyiwo: How many of your coaches have multiple teams?
Jason Aldous: We started out as a club where our directors only had 1 team or none and our coaches were limited to two teams per coach. The landscape is constantly changing in youth soccer but more so in the last few years so we are constantly adapting what’s going on around us and there will always be exceptions to the rule.
Dike Anyiwo: Where do you feel your biggest challenges are as a club?
Jason Aldous: Our biggest challenges as a club is what every other club faces. The current system being upside down. At the top is a franchise based system which means the pathway for players to the pro’s doesn’t really exist. So we are structured in the current system like everyone else as a “pay to play” model. In any walk of life, the less a person knows, the more the result becomes the identifier of “whats right”.
So in a country that is dominated by other sports our culture values winning because the pathway is non-existent in this system. The reality is anyone can become a “coach” by spending a weekend taking a license class. So the standard is very low and very few clubs have taken on the mantel of developing their coaches. I have a coach of 30 years and he will tell you that in 5 years with us he has grown more as a coach than in all his years with other clubs. Our system doesn’t reward development; it rewards numbers and winning.
So we have to fight to convince parents that instead of teaching kids to kick and run to that fast athletic kid up top, it’s actually better to make these kids vulnerable to mistakes that could cost us a few goals but in the end these kids will be better than their opponents.
Dike Anyiwo: What sort of measures have you taken to address these challenges?
Jason Aldous: Its part of the daily job of coaches and the club to do whatever it takes to help people to see the project of development. What we see most of the time is coaches using generic, non-specific words like “technique work” with parents/players. As if “technique” in football is in and of itself a solution.
Correct me if I am wrong but you don’t get points for having pretty technique in football. Technique is always in direct relation to a decision made based upon a players football IQ level to solve a tactical problem on the field. Coaches in general spend a lot of time talking nonsense because when you speak in generic non-specific words you can’t be held accountable for those words, there is always a way out.
Players and parents deserve better. We are on a journey of finding better ways of communicating specifically to parents and players.
Dike Anyiwo: What excites you the most about where this club is today and where it is going?
Jason Aldous: We are most excited by the level of dedication our coaches have to developing themselves. We all know of coaches who have coached for years and have it all figured out. Coaches who think because they had a good group of athletes that all the sudden they are the answer to the American youth football problems. Our coaches sincerely want to learn and grow and many constantly leave their comfort zones to develop….the same thing coaches ask of their players….ironic isn’t it? Coaches want players to leave their comfort zone to get better but are often unwilling to do that themselves.
- BONUS CONTENT: SoccerNation contributor and Liverpool SC Coach Edwin Lee chatted with TOVO’s Todd Beane about the camp and the state of youth soccer in the United States.