“Metodo Giovani”, directly translated means “the young method”. In Italy, Cesena’s method of training and developing their youth players is well known and respected. This club philosophy stems from a deep and historically rooted belief that the true success of any club depends on their ability to develop (properly educate) youth players. At first glance this visionary type philosophy would never stand a chance. There are many perils in the way as many components need to come together if education is to stay in the forefront of the clubs vision.
Leadership- the first danger to philosophical collapse comes from the club leadership. If the club board of directors and specifically, the club president does not have a passionate (almost fanatical) belief in youth development, failure is just around the corner.
At A.C. Cesena and Cesena USA, it is evident that club leadership guides the clubs direction as it pertains to the education of their youth players. Both clubs spend a large amount of resources to ensure that programs are properly managed, continuously evaluated and upgraded when the need arises.
Structure- the club must have a method for identifying and selecting players that have the aptitude and desire to continue their soccer education. The stability of this “structure” is affected by many influences including the following:
Coaches: these individuals must be professional staff with a strong background in development. The days of using “I played in high school”, as fulfillment of a coaching requirement are long gone. These coaches are teachers by trade and education is paramount above results especially in the youth ranks. Coaches must report to a Director of Coaching (DoC) that continuously evaluates and supervises the adherence to a curriculum regardless of weekend results. The DoC must have the flexibility to add and/or remove coaches that don’t adhere to club philosophy. A.C. Cesena has the following club positions that keep this "train" on track:
Cesena USA has similar positions here that keep things organized:
Parents: In every soccer culture around the world, the “parent component” has become the most discussed and (at times) most dreaded. Nothing seems to be off-limits for certain individuals when it comes to their child’s soccer (football) experience. In Italy one of the many challenges stems from parents disagreeing with referee calls and letting them know about it! When it comes to the rules of the game everyone seems to be an expert including parents.
In other cultures, club directors deal with the misguided perception that payment equals entitlement. In ALL soccer cultures, when this feeling of entitlement begins to bleed into the educational component, effects can be disastrous and undermine every aspect of the clubs direction.
The secret is to see parents and coaches as "partners" in the players (child’s) education and development not a "merchant/customer” type relationship. As coaches we MUST commit to instill in each and every player confidence in their abilities and a concept of self-worth that transcends club soccer. We must compassionately convey to them that "where" we place them and "how" we train them is the best developmental option we can provide. From parents we rely on their support and positive reinforcement; encouraging players to openly communicate with coaches and utilize each training session or game as a learning opportunity. Here as in Italy, coaches and parents must see themselves as mentors and in a role that hopefully inspires our program participants.
The “Metodo Giovani” is more than a slogan that identifies a style of teaching. It is what we live to apply every day of our lives. Every child that ever crosses our path has a purpose and a wealth of potential. We embrace the opportunity, tuck our warm-ups in our socks and get to work.
It is good to know that in a world that is full of “coaches” the educators shine through…in both the “old” and the “new” world!