PLYMOUTH MEETING (September 16)—Last week from Wednesday through Saturday, the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer office hosted 19 coaches seeking to earn their United States Soccer Federation C License. Some were local, some came from elsewhere in the state while others arrived from as far away as Virginia and Georgia to take the course that focuses on the core concepts of coaching.
The course, which coaches can take after holding their D License for a year, highlights aspects of the game such as leading players, leading the team, managing a performance environment and leadership. According to the U.S. Soccer website, the C License can be earned following a process that includes two onsite course meetings sandwiched around a six-to-eight week developmental period in a home environment with assignments and mentoring (last week served as the second of those onsite meetings, with the first having occurred in late July).
It featured coaches from all backgrounds and geographic regions, including Austin Siodlowski, head coach of the U12 Harrisburg ODP team.
“Taking the C course is a great step as a leader,” Siodlowski said. “To help our kids grow, we as coaches have to keep learning the new trends and ways forward for our players to get to that next level. For them to get there, I’m taking this course to boost my education and experience to improve my leadership and be able to help that next generation.”
The course was led by Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Director of Soccer Development & Performance Gary Stephenson and Abdelghani Toumi, a U.S. Soccer Instructor and A License holder based in Southern California. Coaches who attended spoke of the benefits of the course’s multi-layered approach, allowing them to look at broader, bigger-picture elements like coaching environment, new methodology and improved concepts that will help players in the longer term.
This approach is crucial for a game that is constantly evolving.
“It enhances your knowledge of the game,” said Charles Howard, a U12 and U13 coach for FC Europa. “I want to get as much education as I can so I’m better able to help the young kids I coach in their game and development.
“Having been through the E and D courses already, this one helps bring everything together: leading the environment we’re coaching in, being able to better manage our team and parents and also being able to work with the club to continue to develop the environment that we are coaching in.”
Tim and Alex Young, a husband and wife coaching duo with 1776 United FC and Penn Fusion, respectively, came not just for the course’s geographic convenience to their home base of Delaware County, but also for the ability to improve themselves as coaches, and, in turn, the players they coach.
“For me, the biggest takeaway was how the methodology has changed,” Alex said. “It’s a lot more about guiding the players in self-discovery, rather than the coach saying exactly what to do and how. It encourages the development of players to make them more autonomous and self-sufficient, which was different than previous courses. It develops more creative players. As coaches, we’re so used to coaching a certain way, so this course especially helps accelerate picking up a new mindset.”
“It’ll especially be good for younger players to help accelerate their development in learning new philosophies,” Tim added. “We can already see the old method wasn’t working as well as it could have been. Understanding the methodology in the C course allows us to selfishly become better coaches to move forward in our careers, which in turn accelerates the players getting better.”
A big takeaway was that the C course lays a foundation for the future. It shows coaches there is more than one way to lead their teams, but the C course provides a framework to their preexisting ideas. As Siodlowski put it, “One vision, one team, one nation … just as the federation would like.”
Added Howard: “Being able to manage your performance environment is a big part of coaching. The terminology and methodology they are teaching us is going to be very helpful for kids growing up and the development of soccer in this country.”