Soccer in the United States had its origin in Massachusetts, so it’s only fitting that the sport enjoys a huge following in the state today. Massachusetts Youth Soccer, the official state representative of the US Soccer Federation and the US Youth Soccer Association, is currently the second largest state soccer association, with over 300,000 members. These members are affiliated with over 400 different soccer organizations throughout the state. Some are town and recreation clubs meant to provide an opportunity for kids to enjoy the game and have fun. Others are club soccer teams that offer a more challenging and competitive environment.
Most kids begin their youth soccer careers at the town or recreational level. This is typically where their love of the game is born. If they are passionate, dedicated, and driven, they may move on to club soccer teams, which play all year round, and require much more in the way of commitment from their players and their players’ families. If you’re considering club soccer, it’s good to have an idea what to expect and look for.
Club soccer teams offer many benefits:
Club teams are primarily coached by paid professionals with experience at the college and professional levels. They know the game and have met the necessary licensing requirements. They’ve been exposed to drills, techniques, and tactics that volunteer coaches for town teams generally just haven’t. It’s widely accepted that the single most important factor in the development of younger soccer players (up to about age 14) is great coaching. It’s during this time that good and bad habits are formed and solidified, so effective coaching can make all the difference.
Club soccer teams in Massachusetts play in leagues and divisions that strive to offer an appropriate level of competition for each of their players. Most clubs have several teams playing in several divisions. Players try out for the club and are assigned to the appropriate teams based on their individual strengths and challenges. The idea is that when players are provided with appropriate challenges, they will best be able to achieve their goals. It is said that at the upper age groups, the best training is strong competition. Players learn to apply and adapt their previously learned skills to become not only strong team members, but leaders as well. The 5 Best Soccer Teams in Mass?
In coordination with Massachusetts Youth Soccer, the primary stated goal of all club soccer teams in Massachusetts is player development. In addition to regular team practices and games, winter facilities and tournaments, most clubs also offer camps and clinics to supplement the players training.
Providing all this opportunity to young players does require a substantial commitment from families in terms of both money and time. Club fees are often as high as $3,000 per year. Games are played all over the state, and tournaments often mean overnight travel and accommodations.
Between fall and spring game schedules, tournaments, winter training, and summer camps and clinics, your soccer season doesn’t really ever end! I think we get a couple of weeks off in the summer then we start all over again. It’s best to understand this going in, so you’ll feel less overwhelmed when you find yourself busy most weekends of the year.
Still, thousands of families do it, and their reasons vary. Some players have aspirations for college scholarships and professional soccer careers. Some players thrive on the competitive edge. Some players simply love the game, and can’t get enough. If any of these describes your player, one of the many club soccer teams in Massachusetts may provide just the environment they need.
For a great visual of the soccer clubs in Mass see the map of clubs.