US Club Soccer launches Players First grassroots licensing system

Kevin Payne 2

October 22 – Amateur club organisation US Club Soccer, which has more than 4,000 members across the US, has launched a club certification system based on its Players First philosophy.

“This is a big effort for us,” said US Club Soccer CEO and Executive Director Kevin Payne, “it is not mandatory for our clubs and not all clubs will be eligible but we anticipate 700 clubs will be licensed in the first wave.”

“Simply put, this is youth soccer’s ‘Good Housekeeping Seal.’ For clubs nationwide that aren’t quite at this level yet, these are standards that should be aspirational,” he continued.

The licensing is based on the Players First initiative which is supported by partners including Nike, LaLiga, and the Positive Coaching Alliance.

“Players First is an ambitious undertaking to change the culture of youth sports. We are trying to provide parents with better ways of making decisions for their children… many parents don’t have a way to judge clubs, they look at wins and losses.

“We are becoming part of the mainstream conversation around health and safety and providing the experience that kids the most enjoyment and benefit… That will keep them in the game longer both as players and supporters,” said Payne.

The license has seven sections in which clubs must show strong commitment: Club and Applicant Information’ Club Leadership Expertise and Development. Staff Education and Development, Player Health and Safety, Training and Competition Structure, Staffing Structure, Parent Education and Engagement.

“This is a real standards-based programme,” said Payne. We won’t be licensing just because a club is big.

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