Sunday, April 22, 2007

EMSA Disciplinary Actions

Last week, the dh and three other coaches received notice of disciplinary action by the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association. The root of the disciplinary action is having broken this bylaw:

A recent addition to the EMSA Bylaws, from the EMSA AGM of February 28, 2007; ITEM #22

Rule 505.2 - Coach/Director Conflict of Interest (New Rule)
If the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) becomes aware that one of its coaches or directors has moved to any other local minor soccer organization as a coach, assistant coach, manager or director, it shall immediately notify the individual in writing that he is suspended
indefinitely from all related EMSA soccer activities. The individual has the right to appeal as per EMSA Rules and Regulations.

So the upshot of this bylaw is that you cannot coach for Edmonton Minor Soccer if you coach for EIYSA (Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association). Anyone familiar with youth soccer in Edmonton knows how extremely disfunctional it is. Despite all of the involved organizations having a mandate to provide the best soccer experience possible for all kids, they fail. The underlying cause and history to this all is far to lengthy to go into here. What I would like to present here is the history of the dh's involvement in youth soccer in southwest Edmonton,a history that encompasses 12 years of volunteerism, working to promote a love for soccer among young people, motivated by the desire to make sure that all players had every opportunity to play at the level that they wanted to play at.

Daryl first started coaching Colin at U5. He coached Katie at U4. He continued to coach all three of them through their first years of playing the sport and is still helping by being assistant on Alex's U14 team. During the early years, Daryl not only coached but volunteered on the board of Riverbend Soccer. He was a director, and the U10 girls coordinator at the same time that he coached at least one team. One year he was coach, the U10 girls coordinator and the U8 coordinator. He moved from the Riverbend board to the SWEMSA board. He moved from coaching Katie at community to competitive soccer, by becoming a Sting coach. As our kids stayed interested and moved to play at a more competitive level, he moved with them, and he eventually became chair of the Sting program.
In the early years with Sting, the program suffered from past years without leadership, no common vision, no real sense of being an actual organized competitive program; it suffered from a complete lack of volunteers. A very small number of people looked after a large number of tasks, and there was much work to be done.
About the time that Alex started playing U10 competitive, Dale McNeely introduced himself to Daryl. Dale has a long, long history with sport. He has background knowledge of national level competitive sport through his participation in gymnastics. Dale was unhappy with the soccer experience that his children were having and wanted to get involved to make the programs better. Dale shares the same vision of providing kids with the best experience possible, to play at the appropriate level, for as long as possible, that Daryl has.
Dale and Daryl and a group of other volunteers spent a great deal of time and effort making improvements to the organization that their kids played for: specifically the Sting program of SW Edmonton, a member program of EMSA. Hours and hours of effort to reorganize the program. The Sting program has thrived under their influence.
Unfortunately, these remedies were only local. Overall the competitive programs in Edmonton still compete for players, lack the same vision of providing great experiences for all players top to bottom, and ultimately do not provide an equal opportunity for individual players to advance technically or through the more elite programs such as the select program at ASA.
EMSA had tried to set up a program to directly compete with EIYSA at Tier 1 and Tier 2; however EMSA really did not have the full backing of their membership and, despite efforts from organizations like Sting to put together properly tiered teams, this initiative floundered.
Dale and Daryl both have sons on the same U14 boys team. That team played in EMSA outdoor 2006. The team went undefeated, and unchallenged. Finishing first in their league won them the opportunity to go to EIYSA-EMSA playdowns to play for the privilege of moving on to provincial championships. They got spanked by the EIYSA teams. This really solidified a decision for Dale and Daryl - for the sake of the players on that team looking for the highest level of competition, and thus the best opportunity to improve, the team needed to change leagues. So, for fall 2006 that team moved to EIYSA as a Scottish United team.
About the same time, three SW Edmonton soccer programs decided that if the governing organizations could not put together a program that allowed kids to move between levels, depending on their development at any given season, the programs could cooperate to help this happen. The programs were Sting, Spark and Scottish. Unfortunately, the governing bodies could not see the way to allow this to happen.
Dale continued to be the chair of the Sting program, as he still had a child playing at Sting. Daryl remained in a more or less informal advisory capacity as he had had such a long history with the program. Daryl performed more volunteer activities for the two organizations, booking and organizing practice facilities for them, organizing outside technical training for both programs, and continued to act as assistant coach on the boys team. Our daughter continued to play in the Sting program that season as well.
If you know volunteer organizations, you know that volunteers are few and far between. Volunteers that spend over 10 years working for the betterment of the program, for their own children to be sure, but also for the benefit of all of the children in the program, are a rare breed. Daryl has done this from his heart, because he loves coaching, he loves soccer and, despite the s&a, he has enjoyed his involvement in this. We have made many dear friends through soccer. I once read that you could tell the coaches house - it was the one where the lawn wasn't perfect. Spending this many hours on volunteering has to be because you enjoy what you are doing, because other things do get left undone.
He came home from helping with tryouts this season - he had helped work on the field with a group of U10 girls - and said 'they are so darned cute, I almost volunteered to coach them!' Only someone that truly loves coaching would say this!

If EMSA is successful in banning Daryl, Dale and the other two coaches, they will be doing the Edmonton soccer community a great disservice. Banning committed volunteers is truly shooting oneself in the foot. These men won't stop working with soccer players, they won't stop committing hours to soccer programs, they just won't be able to do so for EMSA any longer! From our point of view, this is not necessarily a bad thing. All three kids now play in EIYSA so we won't be stopped from volunteering for our kids if we cannot volunteer for EMSA. Being forced out of volunteering frees up hours for other things. But, being disciplined based on decisions to volunteer for two volunteer based organizations at the same time, implemented through a retroactive bylaw, is just wrong.

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