Under-10 mentorship enhances skills

The Stettler Under-10 Developmental League had its first mini soccer tournament last Saturday at multiple Stettler fields.

Joel Gustavson of Stettler participates in the under-10 mini-tournament last weekend in Stettler

Joel Gustavson of Stettler participates in the under-10 mini-tournament last weekend in Stettler

The Stettler Under-10 Developmental League had its first mini soccer tournament last Saturday at multiple Stettler fields.

The Stettler team got off to a slow start, losing its first game 2-1 to Red Deer Red. It was the first game Stettler had lost this season.

The boys picked up the pace and went on to beat Red Deer Black at the high school field, and then went back to the RCMP pitch for a victory over Lacombe.

The under-10 developmental league is a pilot program started by John Bromwich this year as a trial run. The concept of this league is to provide an environment for kids to learn new skills alongside coaches who have played, or are playing the game. Bromwich teaches coaches and children together.

This season Kennedy Fisher, Matt Bennett and Jamie Bromwich are the young coaches stepping up to mentor and teach the children.

The team that participates in mini-tournaments consists of the players that John Bromwich believes are best equipped to play against other teams (similar to the Tier 3 system of tryouts).

The children have all been split into small group of eight or 10, with a young coach for each, and have practised every Friday and Sunday. That allows more time for each of the coaches with an individual player.

The field has been set up for different types of small-sided games. By using the game-based coaching principle, the children become more engaged in the game. The four-versus-four small-sided game structure is a model that has been used for some time in Europe and has been taken on board by such clubs as Ajax and Manchester United.

The program is primarily to develop players and prepare them for Tier 3 competitive soccer.

Although not all players will make Tier 3 teams, all children coming through the developmental program will have better skills and be better equipped to play at either the Tier 3 or Tier 4 level.

No players will be turned away from the program and John Bromwich will try to find each player’s level and give them the best coaching that he can.

Last weekend’s Stettler tourney was the fourth in a series of mini-tournaments held in neighbouring communities over the last month and a half. Stettler wasn’t able to send a team to Lacombe on June 9, as all coaches were involved in the Camrose Night Classic.

“We get to play lots of games in practice and Jamie gives us chocolate if we do something good,” said one of the young players.

That’s just one of the reasons the league has been so successful.

By Krista Stewart, Manager, Stettler under-10 soccer