US Club Soccer Boost for Player Safety
For youth soccer coaches, there is always much more to consider than winning and losing.
Most young players probably consider the game itself to be the most important issue in their soccer lives, perhaps followed by training and, for the younger ones, the snacks after the full-time whistle.
But for coaches the responsibility goes much deeper than results; they are the first line of response when their players get hurt on the field and their reactions could in the most extreme of cases be the difference between life and death.
With so much money and competition in the youth soccer system, subjects such as injury awareness and player insurance are not such sexy topics.
But US Club Soccer CEO Kevin Payne is not willing to leave anything to chance. He is tackling these issues head on in a concerted effort to prioritize the health, safety and security of all young players.
The organization, which has members in all 50 states, has raised the bar this summer to ensure that parents feel secure that their kids’ coaches have both the character and the know-how to care for their sons and daughters.
US Club Soccer is requiring all its coaches to engage in its new Sideline Sports Doc program - an online and digital course aimed at helping coaches better recognize they severity of injuries and take the appropriate steps when they happen.
“We are not pretending to turn them into paramedics or EMTs,” explained Kevin in an interview with Football.com. “It’s more about helping coaches know when a kid has to come out of a game and whether to put him or her back in or to keep them out. It’s also to help them know when a player should be taken to hospital.”
The focus in recent years has been on the potential perils of head injuries, but Kevin says: “It’s not all head injuries. Hand and wrist injuries are actually the number one types of injuries. It is important that coaches learn the best way to handle these situations.”
US Club Soccer has also instituted tougher background checks for all its coaches. Beginning July 1, every coach or key staff member who registers with US Club Soccer has had to pass a new best-in-class background check system, which is far more rigorous than the previous youth sports standard.
The checks go back seven years and scrutinize the previous seven counties in which the coach has lived. The checks also continue in real time, meaning that US Club Soccer will be alerted if a current coach falls below the standards and can be removed immediately.
In addition, Kevin espouses the importance of his organization’s “high quality insurance.”
Some organizations, seeking to cut costs, agree to player insurance with large deductibles, sometimes amounting to as much as $10,000. That effectively renders the policy useless to most parents, who rely on it as a secondary insurance, largely to recoup deductibles they’re forced to pay on their own health policies.
These developments are all part of US Club Soccer’s admirable Player’s First initiative, which encourages a holistic approach to creating the best possible experience for parents and their kids.
Players First provides support to clubs in five key areas: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety.
“We believe that there a lot of things that are important in the development process for kids and there are a lot of things that parents place emphasis on,” said Kevin. "But the health and safety of the players should be paramount.”