Whatever League — Have a Good Time, and Learn
You have probably heard, and by now are sick to death, of the "impasse" in premier soccer in Oregon. Soccer systems and services are important and what is going on is a big deal for the future of youth soccer throughout the state. Most recognize the division is not a good thing.
First of all, let's not forget the recreational player. Fully 85 percent of the kids playing soccer in Oregon don't give a rip about competitive soccer, much less premier soccer. That is just not where they are, or where they want to be. At least, not today.
On the other hand, virtually 100 percent of the kids who play competitive and premier soccer started by playing recreational soccer. So the training, support, coaching education and general systems for recreational soccer are vitally important. Let's not let the emotion and drama of the political and business differences within competitive/premier soccer today distract us from the thrills and excitement at the youngest ages of the sport. Studies show "connectedness" to soccer happens most often at U6 and U7. Experiences at that age have the most lasting impact on kids staying with the game.
One of the most common questions we've received — besides, "Isn't there anything anybody can do to re-unite soccer in the state?" is, "What does this mean to me, as a player — or to my child — who has been playing as an OYSA member for their entire (young) soccer career?"
Let's be honest. On an individual level, at least for most players, it isn't going to matter much which league you play in. Ours will be better, of course (smile) — but honestly, you get up in the morning, go to a tryout, get selected on a team, pay your fees and practice with your friends and your coach. Same sky, same field, same ball. On game day you will play hard against an opponent. You will win, you will lose, and you will draw. The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat. The lessons you will learn, on and off the field.
Yes, we have State Cup, US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals/National Championships, a true state-wide premier league as well as President's Cup, etc. We are the state association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation designated by the Federation to carry out the Federation's programs for amateur youth players in Oregon and we are the state association member of US Youth Soccer in Oregon as well. Our coaching staff conducts dozens of Federation/US Youth Soccer-approved coach licensing and certification classes each year, and we are a tax-exempt charitable membership organization. We are a good group to be part of.
The political "impasse" that has divided competitive soccer in Oregon is regrettable — and I believe will be bad for soccer, especially if we don't find a way to unite soccer again pretty soon. However, on an individual level there is no need to panic. You can still play ODP, you can still play good soccer — you can still play for an OYSA team if you want to (almost 50 clubs have chosen our Fall League).
But regardless of where you play — play hard, play fair and have fun.
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