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THE PRINCIPLES OF CAL SOUTH PRO+ | THIRD IN A FOUR-PART SERIES: INCLUSION

octubre 29, 2012

THE PRINCIPLES OF CAL SOUTH PRO+ - PART 3: INCLUSION
By Steve Hoffman | Cal South Director of Coaching Education and Player Development

To read "Identification," the first part of this series, click here.
To read "Development," the second part of this series, click here.

In the first two parts of this series, I covered two of the four principles behind the Cal South Pro+ program: Identification and Development. This week's column will tackle the third principle: Inclusion.

So what do we mean by "inclusion?" Within Pro+, inclusion means a breaking down of the barriers which, in the past, have prevented players from attending the Olympic Development Program (ODP). In a broader sense, it means "to identify, assist and provide elite soccer opportunities to as many of the best players in Southern California as possible."

Let's face it, chiefly due to the great work of our affiliate member clubs and their coaches, the Cal South ODP program has achieved great success in helping players move on to the next higher level, whether it is playing college ball, pro ball or making a national team.

However, because of the financial costs which previously had been a part of ODP, I personally feel that we have missed identifying a lot of talented players who simply couldn't afford to attend regional and national ODP events. To address this, Cal South President Johnnie Garza and our Board of Directors supported the new Pro+ vision that players should not have to pay more just because they might be considered "elite." The decision was made to offer the Pro+ program, which includes ODP, at as minimal a cost as possible.

To achieve this goal, it meant putting a new cost structure into place. The specifics are:

• When a player is invited to a Pro+ pool, they pay a $100 Administration fee.
• When a player in a Pro+ pool is selected to the 5-day Pro+ summer ID camp, attendance is FREE.
• When players are selected to represent Cal South at international, regional or national ODP events, the only cost for those players will be their meals. Cal South Pro+ will cover travel, housing and all other expenses.

Compare that to the cost from just two years ago, when players paid about $1,000-1,200 to go through the whole ODP program. Now, with the new structure, the maximum a player would pay is between $200-300. This alone will definitely lead to the inclusion of many more players than in the past, including those that could not financially afford to attend the program, even with scholarship money provided to them.

Cal South recently signed a new five-year extension on our agreement with Nike Soccer, who have been incredible in showing their support of Cal South Pro+. Nike will continue to provide and fulfill all the training and uniform needs of our Pro+ players. Quite simply, their backing of elite player identification and development in Cal South is amazing. When they say "JUST DO IT," they mean it. In our efforts to discover the next Landon Donovan or Alex Morgan, Nike has proven they are committed to support us in any way they can.

We plan to expand, identify and include youth players in our adult leagues, and we continue looking at high school and inner city programs for the most talented players we can find. Our goal is to include as many of the best players possible in Pro+. It not important where a player plays; it is more important to identify them and include them in Pro+. Once there, we can continue to help them develop fully and reach their full potential. To reach this potential, we rely on the guidance and advice of national staff coaches, pro players, college coaches and sport science specialists.

There are other programs in Southern California attempting to do a similar thing as Cal South Pro+. The big difference maker in our case is the word "inclusion." In 2011, Cal South scouted over 1,000 games throughout the year. In doing so, were able to include over 2,500 players in our Pro+ program through pool training, weekend training camps, residential academies, and even our morning summer camps. At each level of training, we are always looking to include the best.

It's important to realize that players are not scouted on where or for whom they play. We scout players at every level in Cal South. Talented players can potentially be found on any type of team, regardless of its success. For Pro+, teams and game results have no significance in player identification. We are scouting the individual players, whose identification and inclusion in Pro+ rests squarely on their abilities on the field.

Finally, communication plays a major part in the success of the "inclusion" principle of Cal South Pro+. Communication with everyone involved with the players, including parents, club coaches and club DOCs, is critical in getting our message to those it benefits most. One thing we ask all coaches is to check out our website (www.calsouth.com) for the latest developments and events in Pro+, and also to check their emails to help players take full advantage of what can be a crucial step in their individual development.

Next week: Part 4 - Advancement