Improving Lives of Youth Through Sport

Teaching Life Lessons through Soccer: Part I – by Brian Eagle

Brian A. Eagle is lifelong soccer enthusiast.   He is a former youth player, student manager of the Indiana University Men’s Soccer Team (1983 – 1985), soccer dad, and club coach.      Coach Eagle is currently serving as the Head Coach of U12 Boys Team in the Indiana Olympic Development Program.   He was one of the co-founders of the Indiana Soccer Foundation and a past member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.   When not coaching soccer, Mr. Eagle serves as the managing partner of the law firm Eagle & Fein, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.

There are currently over 60,000 youth soccer players registered to play soccer in Indiana.   The chances of any of them ever earning a living playing the beautiful game of soccer are minimal.    This past fall the high school class of 2013, the 1995 age group, completed college play.

Out of all the Indiana youth players in that age group who started playing as early as age 4, only 1 player who played in Indiana was selected in the MLS Super Draft.   Congratulations Jalen Brown who played at Hoosier FC, Indiana ODP, then later Indiana Fire Development Academy, and competed in college at Xavier University.   Perhaps a couple of others will catch on with Major League Soccer, in the United States Soccer League or perhaps the NASL with the Indy Eleven.   The odds are long.  Careers are short.  The journey is as long and as uncertain as the climb is to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

So what is the main focus of the soccer community in developing youth players?

  • Is it to develop college, professional, or national team players? Some will say yes.   If it is yes, then we are missing the point.   That is only for an elite few.
  • To take the game to the next level, the soccer community should consider adopting core values, the “life lessons of soccer.” These lessons will assist the youth player in being successful on the field as well as off of it.  The life lessons will be equally important for the elite player playing in the development academy, the travel club player, as well as the recreational youth soccer player whose soccer journey only lasts one season.

In 2017 and beyond, the Indiana Soccer Foundation in conjunction with the Indiana Soccer Association will start the conversation with the expectation that we will lead the soccer community in “Teaching Life Lessons through Soccer.”

When the soccer playing days of a youth player come to an end, let it be that the following life lessons are everlasting, inspiring the player in their journey through life!  Teaching life lesson through soccer gives the youth players of today the opportunity to be the leaders of tomorrow!

In future issues I will talk more about eleven core life lessons:  Personal Best, Focus, Responsibility, Over-coming Circumstances, Self-Improvement, Respect, Commitment, Analytical Thinking, Math/Geometry, Working with Groups.

This article is just the beginning of the conversation.   As a coach, or a soccer mom or dad, emphasizing life lessons will help your youth player(s) reach the next level in their development not only in their soccer, but also in their life journey.   If it is not about the life lesson, then what is it abou

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