“My kid is on the Travel Team” its the first thing I hear out of parents mouth when they start talking about soccer to me and quite frankly they have no clue what that actually means or why it is not important at all especially at 9 years old.
The term “TRAVEL” is not used by the Provincial governing body the OSA anywhere in its policies or procedures when they explain the structure of Soccer in this Province.
There are 3 terms used by the OSA
1. Recreational Soccer
Travel Soccer was a term coined as it denoted that a team would travel to go an play games at other clubs rather than just playing games against teams within in its own club which is known as House League Soccer. (Games are played in-house)
Where the confusion and blurring of lines has occurred is that any club can register and field what parents have come to know as a Travel Soccer team.
There is no requirement other than being able to field the minimum number of players for a game.
There is no skill level or playing ability requirement or process a player must go through or meet to play on one of these so called Travel soccer teams.
Likewise the requirement to coach one of these teams is very low, coaches must only complete a weekend course to be considered a Travel coach and there is no requirement for minimum level of practices.
So here is my interpretation of how the OSA is structuring soccer in the Province and what you are really participating in.
Recreational Soccer (U4 and Up)
This is basically for people who are looking for a fun activity which is going to get their kids some exercise and opportunity to get introduced to the sport of soccer. Do not expect your coach to be anything more than a nice parent who has volunteered their time and possibly completed a 1 or 2 day coaching course.
This is for players that want to participate less frequently in Soccer. Maybe its just a summer thing for them 🙂
Development Soccer (U8 to U12)
This is what you are thinking of as Travel Soccer, and yes you will travel outside of your own club to play some games against other clubs either in a Festival or League format. Lets be clear here though its called DEVELOPMENT of r a reason because the goal should be the Development of the individual players more than the creation of a team that can win games. The old Travel Soccer mentality where the team was out to win your league should be over the focus has switched and here are a f ew of the key factors that have changed to try an facilitate the development of the individual more than the development of the coaches winning team
1. No scores or standings are kept at any games in any formats at this level
2. Players should be following a minimum2:1 or 3:1 practice to game ratio
3. Players should all be getting equal playing time and a good chance to play a variety of positions throughout games and the season
4. All coaches must have completed the minimum required coaching course that the OSA has set out to coach the various age groups
5. There is NO SUCH THING AS A TEAM at this level. Clubs do not register TEAMS at this age group with the OSA. Clubs register a roster of players and they can select any of those players to play on a team in any game throughout the season.
6. There is no limit as to how many players a club can put on its roster for any of the age groups at the Development Soccer level.
7. If a coach is running tryouts at this age you may want to ask what is their motivation for doing this, or if a coach is only taking a set number of players why is this?
8. Tryouts at this age should be limited if not eliminated. The club should be taking the players that want to practice and play at this level and want to take their soccer more seriously than at the Recreational Level.
Competitive Soccer (U13 and Up)
This is finally what parents have in their mind as Travel Soccer !!!! This is the level when leagues start counting score and keeping a league table. The focus now is more on winning though its shouldn’t be the only thing.
Clubs do now register a TEAM with the OSA and the maximum number they can have on the team roster is 18, so tryouts will now come into play to select the players best suited for the team.
Equal playing time and equal time in all positions is also now something each coach must consider themselves based on their goals and objectives.