US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. It registers more than 3 million players annually, ages five to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game.
Among the programs US Youth Soccer offers are the Kohls US Youth Soccer American Cup, the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, US Youth Soccer National League, US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup, Soccer Across America, Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters Challenge and TOPSoccer, for young athletes with physical or developmental disabilities. US Youth Soccer also offers Youth Soccer Month each September.
Sports Destination Management: This is an exciting time for soccer.
Christopher Moore: It is – we’re looking forward to the Olympics in Rio. Of course, everyone also got to watch the US Women’s National Team bring home the trophy again. The US has the most successful team with three World Cup trophies to date. We’re very proud of the fact that all 23 members of the US Women’s National Team played for US Youth Soccer when they were younger.
SDM: US Youth Soccer offers a number of opportunities for play and for competition.
Moore: We really do see soccer as a transformative sport and as fun, social and character-building experience for all ages and all levels. When we say it’s “The game for ALL kids,” it’s not just a tagline. It’s our mantra.
SDM: With so many events, you need a lot of venues. What goes into your selection?
Moore: Typically, our selection process begins with the playing surface. We want to know what the surface of the field is like if a game will be played there. After that, we focus on infrastructure: easy access to quality hotels, closeness to an airport, whether there is adequate parking for people driving in or taking their bus in, whether there are restaurants – there is a lot that goes into the decision.
What also drives the process is whether the area can accommodate not just a lot of players but family members since these kids are traveling in with their parents and often their grandparents. We plan very comprehensively and scout different locations three, four and five years out. We work very closely with our State Association partners to help select those locations as well.
SDM: What has US Youth Soccer implemented recently?
Moore: We’re really leveraging technology. Two years ago, we live-streamed for the first time – our National Championships – and it was a big shot in the arm for us. In 2015, we streamed over 110 games, including our Regional Championships, National Championships and Presidents Cup. We expect to do even more live-streaming in 2016. We have seen a lot of interest in it because you always have people who can’t be there for events – families, friends and local clubs – even people around the world. Folks will organize watch parties for a game so they can cheer their team on.
SDM: US Youth Soccer is very concerned about safety.
Moore: US Youth Soccer wants to ensure the safest possible playing environment. That’s paramount to us. If we can do everything in our power to keep kids safe, parents will keep registering their kids for our programs. Last year, we instituted rules against heading the ball in under-10 play.
SDM: Does US Youth Soccer have any policy when it comes to kids specializing in one sport?
Moore: We are in favor of multi-sport participation because there is a body of research to support the fact that kids do better developmentally from playing different sports. They use different muscles and their cognitive function improves. One big concern with single-sport specialization is burnout. We don’t want them to become disinterested. We encourage them to try other sports. Our hope is that it will affirm their love of soccer, but either way, it’s better for them to dabble in a few different sports.