We are excited to have one centralized location for the Eagle F.C. Futures program. Hidden Creek affords us enough space for nine 20yd x 30yd mini soccer fields, four 30yd x 40yd 4v4 fields and two full size 45yd x 65yd 7v7 fields. This will allow us to create an outstanding learning environment and to provide gear such as goals, training poles, cones, balls, pinnies and other to all groups. Hidden Creek also provides ample parking, portable toliets, a playground , a pavilion, and a shed for gear storage.
For the younger players, there are some challenges creating fair teams and maintaining even numbers, especially given the many variables we have encountered with Covid 19. In addition, most players within the U6, U7 and U8 age groups, psychologically are still focused on “I”, not the team. Within our training groups, we will work to build camaraderie, cooperation and respect. Within the Futures structure, players are grouped by age, which allows us to be agile and do what is best for each player. Additionally, it allows us to place a lead coach and experienced staff in charge of each group in order to provide the best support and guidance. Players will progress through the program in an age appropriate manner. Some players who excel at the game can be challenged within their group or be moved to the next group.
In this format, each player will be given two jerseys, which affords flexibility on game days and allows us to simplify and meet Covid 19 protocols at training, minimizing pinnie usage. On game days, we are able to group the players appropriately by ability and experience. This helps us build confidence in every player.
Beginning with the Spring 2021 season, we are hopeful to initiate teams at the U9 level. The U9 teams will be created with considerations to ability, school and neighborhoods.
We broke the U6 and U7 age groups into six month segments so the group numbers are manageable. We also did this to decrease the range of abilities and capabilities within each group. These smaller peer groups should be more equitable. Also, with the increased flexibility, we can explore the US Soccer Bio Banding initiative which allows players to be grouped based on maturity and biological age vs. chronological age. With our new format, we can move players up and down based on maturity and/or skill to provide them with the appropriate atmosphere and challenge. This format also helps to address the relative age effect in youth sports whereas there may be a bias towards older players in a given birth year.
We will need willing volunteers for each age group. Our program is only successful because of outstanding and dedicated volunteers. The Futures lead coaches will set the curriculum and provide training activities, but we depend on volunteers to assist with training and to help oversee games on Saturday.
-Willingness to learn, have fun and put kids first
-Assist Futures staff coaches with training
-Equipment set up and clean up
-Run a field on Saturday game day
-Obtain clearances and background check
-Attend pre-season training and orientation with the Futures staff
-At U9, volunteers will be assigned to a team for games, training will be led by Futures staff
The age group staff coaches and volunteers will make up the coaching team within each age group. Our focus will be on collaboration, teaching the game, and having fun. It is a kids first, player-centric model with a community atmosphere.
In the past, program schedules and details were communicated by appointed Age Group Coordinators. Moving forward, the messaging will be centralized to the Futures Program Director. This will allow for more efficient communication and information sharing. We are hopeful this approach will remove the administration responsibility from our volunteers and allow them to have more fun on the field.
There will be positive changes regarding support for our volunteer coaches. Each practice session and game day will be led by experienced coaches. Our volunteers will be encouraged to help and interact with the Futures staff coaches. In addition, the Futures staff will run meetings before the season begins to communicate program details, present the session structure, activities, answer questions, etc. These trainings will incorporate our Eagle F.C. staff and trainers from the US Soccer Foundation will be in attendance. Eagle F.C. is also working with EPYSA to provide USSF grassroots training courses
In an effort to create a thoughtful progression from 3v3 to 7v7, it is important to have a progression and plan from U6 to U9.
The Futures program game models are:
-U6 Coed – FUNino 3v3 with 4 goals (20yd x 30yd field)
-U7 Coed – FUNino 3v3 with 4 goals (20yd x 30yd field)
-U8 Boys/Girls Fall – 4v4 with 2 goals (30yd x 40yd field)
-U8 Boys/Girls Spring – 4v4 plus GK with 2 goals (30yd x 40yd field)
-U9 Boys/Girls – USSF 7v7 (45yd x 65yd field)
Decision making, physical capabilities and complexity increase exponentially as you add players to the field, increase the field size and alter the size of the goals. Going directly from 3v3 to 7v7 is not ideal. During the Spring season, U8 players are merged into a single birth year structure to prepare them for the progression to 7v7 at U9. This in turn, provides the program staff with familiarity of the entire age group so players can be selected and placed appropriately on U9 teams. This approach helps to mitigate the stress associated with tryouts.
The triangle is the basic shape within the 11v11 game. A triangle has 1st, 2nd and 3rd defenders and attackers which are the building blocks of team formation and decision making. The 3v3 format simplifies the game and allows young players to identify and process decisions more effectively. In a 3v3 game, all players will be heavily involved in the game, which is great for kids and it is fun. The 4v4 format is suggested and advocated by USSF. The 4v4 diamond shape has depth and width, however, it also has more complexity. As players progress in the program, they will advance from 3v3 to 4v4 to 5v5 to 7v7.
FUNino is a very effective game model for player development. The four goals and scoring zones promote decision making, head up, angles, body orientation, awareness, game intelligence, and skill. The goals will be small (3’x5′) and will help encourage players to find an advantage as opposed to just kicking at and defending one goal.
The FUNino format promotes fun, lots of goals and the young kids love it. Our coaches love it too!