Ken Gulmi made several points about protecting young athletes (Photo courtesy of ENYYSA)
By Ken Gulmi
Former President of the East Hudson Youth Soccer League
This article appeared recently in community newspapers throughout Westchester and Putnam counties and given to FrontRowSoccer.com by the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
Through the 1980’s, children mostly played sports for their own community-based teams and “professional” for-pay trainers were usually only found working in unaffiliated camps. Since then, however, the landscape has evolved and not always in the best interests of its youth athletes.
Currently, virtually every youth sport features paid coaches and/or trainers, usually charging substantial fees. Certainly, in some cases, these “professional” sports educators are well-qualified and have worked diligently to acquire the skills and credentials (licenses) necessary to give youngsters a solid foundation in which to optimize their athletic abilities.
Unfortunately, there are also many others who present themselves as having the expertise and education to serve as qualified to instruct youngsters without the credentials that entitle them to make that claim. How then can parents insure that they are actually spending large sums on their child’s behalf and choosing the best person for his or her development?
Before committing their child to an “elite” team, or program and instructional staff, parents can insure they are doing everything to insure they are making the best possible choice as to whom to entrust with their son or daughter. Here are several steps that will assist them in accomplishing that goal:
1. Be realistic about both your child’s desire and ability to make a strong commitment to develop in their sport. It’s about what the player wants, not about what the parent wants for them. Be sure they understand and are enthusiastic about the amount of work for which they are signing up.
2. Has the instructor provided you with his/her resume of experiences. If so, check the references. If not, why not? This cannot be optional.
3. What license does he/she possess? If the sport offers ascending levels of licensing (for example, soccer), is it sufficient for your child’s level? A license demonstrates their willingness to develop themselves as educators.
4. Has the instructor passed a background check? This is mandatory in many sports to weed out those with criminal backgrounds, alcohol/drug backgrounds and child predators. Never accept anyone who hasn’t.
5. Has the instructor been certified CPR training and Concussion protocol? This too should not be optional.
Legitimate professionals will have no problem meeting these demands from a parent. Self-proclaimed experts with no real qualifications will dismiss their importance or offer excuses for why they cannot.
In short, do not be lured by anyone just because they are offering to make your child the next superstar in their sport. The real qualified instructors usually won’t while the posers are really just eyeballing the balance in your bank account.