Growing up in an uncommon youth sport in Southern California had its challenges. Now that the soccer culture and community has changed in Southern California, these 3 tips about youth soccer share a different side of the game that many parents and athletes should consider when playing this fun and competitive sport.
As a youth soccer player, I often had to play soccer in the street against the curb. I won if the ball came straight back to me, the curb won if the ball popped straight up. Watching soccer on tv was even harder since the only games played were on the local Spanish station in Spanish.
During the 90s, I had to patiently wait every 4 years to watch the Men’s National Team take on the world in the FIFA World Cup. My first FIFA World Cup experience was the 1994 tournament held here in the U.S. My room was covered in all soccer posters of the Men’s National team and other stars from around the globe, one being our beloved Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Jurgen Klinsmann. Five years later, my soccer dreams came true when the U.S. hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup and my birthday present consisted of tickets to the Final game when the U.S. beat China for the championship (the last time the U.S. won the World Cup.)
Fast forward to 2014 and youth soccer is paving the way in America with Youth Soccer being the fastest growing sport in the United States. 11.1 million people watched the USA Men’s National team play against Ghana on ESPN during the FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil this past summer. The number of Americans watching the FIFA World Cup Final beat the number of viewers watching the 2014 NBA finals and the 2013 MLB World Series despite the U.S. not even playing in the game.
Now as an adult soccer player and coach, helping the youth soccer players gain speed and strength on the soccer field gives me the same passion the sport had for me as a kid. It saddens me when I hear young girls and boys say they are not good enough to play soccer at the next level. With over 100,000 youth soccer players in Southern California and some of the best weather in America, kids don’t realize they are competing against top competition all year long.
As I watch my youth soccer players play in parks and schools, it’s hard not to be proud of the progress the sport has made and the impact I make daily on it’s continue growth. Helping the youth soccer players gain confidence, speed, and power on the soccer field is vital to the continued success of soccer in Southern California.
Tip #1 about playing Soccer in Southern California
The sun shines all year round. With extreme heat in the desert and snow in the mountains, the majority of youth players can still play soccer all year round. The heat does not stay for long and most kids and teams can travel to lower temperature cities to play. With mostly man-made snow in our mountains, the majority of soccer players living in those areas travel to play soccer on recreation and club teams.
Compared to other states with extreme humidity, snow storms, and rain, Southern California is the perfect place for year round soccer. With that perfect weather, come year round practices, year round games, year round tournaments, and the need to increase soccer athleticism -year round of course.
Tip #2 about playing Soccer in Southern California
The competition is or close to being the best in America. In the 2011/2012 season, the US Youth Soccer posted key statistics about the number of youth soccer players in America. Southern California came in 4th place with 144,161 soccer players registered for annual soccer leagues. The area that brought in the most annual soccer registrants was Northern California. With the state of California having the most soccer players in America, we have more teams in various levels of soccer with more leagues and tournaments held each year for all the teams to play in.
Compare to other states that could have below 10,000 youth soccer players, Southern California soccer players tend to make soccer part of their lifestyle and can choose to be as competitive as they would like with the many teams available in the state.
Tip #3 about playing Soccer in Southern California
With the nice weather and thousands of youth soccer players, Southern California breeds the best teams of soccer players. Check out the numbers:
- 4 members of the 2012 Gold winning Olympic Women’s National Team played for the Cal South ODP team: Alex Morgan, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, and Amy Rodriguez
- 26% of the U.S. Men’s National team for 2010 World Cup were Cal South Alumni.
- 28 Cal South ODP teams won 28 out of 60 US Youth Soccer National Championship Trophies (2000-2014)
- 42 club teams from Cal South have won 42 US Youth Soccer National Championship trophies since 2001.
- 56% of US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships won by Cal South club teams (1997-2013)
- 62% of US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup Regional titles won by Cal South club teams (2009-2013)
Coach Brittany wrote this blog based off working with the Southern California youth soccer community for the past 6 years. A product of a Cal South youth club team, Camarillo Eagles, and the Cal South ODP program, Coach Brittany assists the youth soccer community in gaining speed and strength on the pitch.
Contact Coach Brittany for guidance though the Cal South’s options for playing soccer at all levels.