Travel soccer has become the new obsession for parents. In a recent conversation with another coach, the topic of travel soccer came up. He had been approached by one of his parents who was asking if he would be taking his team to travel. The coach was uncertain because there’s still a lot of development needed on his team.
He had been under the impression that travel leagues go through a selection process before allowing teams to join to make sure games are competitive, since you know, “travel soccer” is supposed to be serious? I had to break it down for him, travel leagues aren’t as serious as they are presupposed to be. They have a division for everyone. We cracked up laughing as I told him that his team can play travel too; no selection process is needed.
This coach had the right thinking about “travel soccer”. There should be a selection process in order for teams to be admitted. “Travel soccer” should be for serious, competitive players only. Players who are dedicated and want to prove they are the best by playing against the best. There should be a cap in the amount of divisions travel leagues can have. But just as this coach and I were discussing, that’s not the case at all. Players and parents are bouncing around searching for anyone who will take them to travel and coaches are scrambling to make their teams a “travel team” no matter the current development of their players.
My fellow coach said it well when he stated, “my team is not ready for travel, the players have a lot of work to do!” This is the right philosophy. “Travel soccer” should be the next level and limited to teams ready to put in the work required for the high level of play. On the same wave length, parents should only be interested in a “travel team” when their child shows the drive and development required for that level of play.
The way it stands now, I guess parents don’t mind driving a little more on the weekends just to say, “My kid plays on a travel team!” This is only a tiny part of the bigger issue we have with the current youth soccer structure in this country. If you ask me, I think we should really rethink this “travel soccer” business.