Staying in the Game: Soccer Community Discussion Webinar



Youth soccer leaders are facing unprecedented obstacles and are rising to the challenge with innovative thinking, teamwork and new technology.

That was the message during Staying In the Game; Soccer Community Discussion on Wednesday April 8, where about 175 club administrators and coaches participated in a wide-ranging webinar on the future of the game in the face of Covid-19.

With the whole of the SOCCER.COM family experiencing the same challenges, we brought together the community to share experiences, guidance and understanding.

Panelists included Birmingham United Executive Director Andrew Brower, ECNL President Christian LaversMadison SC Director of Operations Tucker McKeever and Global Image Sports Development Manager and In-House Counsel Joe Davis.

“What (the pandemic) is forcing everyone to do is innovate as opposed to rely on the natural evolution of things,” said Davis, who works with Atletico Madrid, Wolverhampton Wonderers, West Ham United and other professional clubs across Europe to offer opportunities to US youth clubs.

“Thinking of this as an opportunity to find new ways to innovate is something we’ve been focusing on.”

For instance, GIS is putting on virtual Yoga Master Class sessions

The webinar covered both short- and long-term ramifications for clubs, ways to stay connected to players and coaching staffs during this time and the path forward once play resumes.

While much remains uncertain, the panelists looked for silver linings. For instance, using technologies like Zoom and soccer training apps to put in work now could build healthy habits for the future.

Lavers challenged ECNL coaches and players to keep improving with help from of web tutorials and other teaching content.

“You have more opportunity to consume more and learn more,” he said. “There’s tons of material out there, there are no secrets.

Hopefully what this will do is it will inspire people, whether it’s coaches or players, to do some of this stuff moving forward as life gets back to normal.”

McKeever highlighted the approach that Madison SC is using to keep players engaged, which he said is vital to avoiding a drop in participation when matches return.

Brower said Birmingham United is staying in touch with video training sets, game analysis and more, all while keeping a community feel in place.

The club is also focused beyond the field with programs to raise funds for nonprofits (Giving Tuesday), to write letters to medical professionals or to do another good deed (Serving Day Wednesday) and to buy gift cards and support local sponsors and vendors (Supporting Thursdays).

“I honestly think the team you have assembled are checking all of the boxes,” MA Youth Soccer TSL Program Manager Maureen LaRoche said of the webinar.

“The advice you are giving is being done with the utmost thought and empathy at every level.”