We’ve all experienced this youth soccer coach growing up: the well-intentioned, slightly overweight, local parent -- oblivious to the rules of the game and quick to scream out “boot it!” and “score!”
Well, what about American soccer coaches today? We are a nation of millions of adult amateur players -- fully grown 20, 30, and 40-somethings that have played the game our entire lives, and are ready to give back to the next generation.
So why do we still have overworked, non-soccer moms and dads volunteering their precious free time to awkwardly demonstrate the Cruyff turn? How come in remote, suburban towns, there are “elite coaches” with suspect abilities and exotic accents teaching in garbled English, the same concepts you and I already know?*
*there is a definite need for more quality foreign coaching and insight in the US -- but I’ve megged plenty of “semi-pros”, and witnessed coaching impostors from all backgrounds (American and non).
One reason: Money. US Soccer’s priorities are completely out of whack and these charts prove it. Study them, question them, argue over them. But more important than anything -- let your voice be heard (USSF contact information at the bottom). Don’t have time to stare at pretty infographics? No problem, skip ahead to the main points, and be on with your life.
(Regional Tournaments and World Cups)
Population - Size of Youth Player Pool - Number of Top Level Coaches
(grassroots to pro level)
We clearly have enough kids playing soccer compared to the rest of the world, but not enough qualified coaches.
Our coaching costs are some of the most expensive in world football, but England is actually the worst.
The U.S. has won a respectable amount of Gold Cups, but I almost replaced those with pictures of orange slices. Let’s not kid ourselves, the UEFA and Copa America tournaments are the most competitive continental competitions in the world.
The number of registered youth soccer players in Uruguay is around 8,000 -- about the same size of my hometown, Sturbridge, MA (that’s right, Old Sturbridge Village baby). Despite Uruguay’s diminutive population, they have won 10 Copa America championships and 2 World Cups. Drink that down slowly.
Author: Sean Malvey
US Soccer Contact Information:
1 (312) 808-1300
Trophy comparison - Lists Gold Cup trophies for USA, UEFA Championships for Germany/England/Spain, and South American Championships & Copa America Championships (combined) for Uruguay
Population Data - note that data is taken from different sources and from different time periods, due to the lack of comprehensive publicly available information.
Total country populations - most recent google search statistics (March 2018);
Registered Youth Soccer Players - all players under age of 18, taken from FIFA Big Report (2006);
Top level coaches (at least UEFA A equivalent) - USA, only USSF certified A level coaches, data provided in TopDrawerSoccer article on July 1, 2016; ENGLAND, from same source, listed 1,395 so I assume there’s over 1,400+ UEFA A license holders by now; GERMANY, from same source and compared to similar figure provided by German Federation (accounted for higher figure because assume they haven’t updated numbers); SPAIN, same source; URUGUAY, could not find available data
Aggregate lifetime cost to coach - USA, based on official course listings from US Soccer Digital Coaching Center. Prices for each level varied by geographic center, so I chose the highest listing found. Breakdown is: online/in-person for 4v4, 7v7, 9v9, 11v11 (total $280), D license ($225), C license ($1,720), B license ($3,000), A license either Pro or Youth ($4,000), Pro level ($10,000); ENGLAND, data from ESPN article written in 2013. Basic FA Level 1 (£150), Level 2 (£340), UEFA B (£2,450 - took higher estimate), UEFA A (£5,820), UEFA Pro (£7,595) - from Guardian article, total (£16,355 or $22,854); GERMANY, data sources from ESPN article, assumed lower level coaching expenses would be only 100 EUR (so A level (530 EUR) + B level (430 EUR) + Lower level (100 EUR) = 1060 EUR or $1,309; SPAIN, basic coaching license from RFEF (850 EUR), UEFA B & A data sourced from ESPN article (B level 1,100 EUR + A level 1,200 EUR) total = 3,150 EUR or $3,890; URUGUAY, data unavailable.