As the season rapidly approaches, we wanted to highlight a number of changes made in 2009 to improve PHMSA and continue to fulfill AYSOs vision as The nationally recognized premier youth development organization providing quality youth soccer programs.
Perhaps the most exciting change was the introduction of a World Cup type format for our U10, U12 and U14 age groups. We will again implement PHMSAs version of the World Cup near the end of our season in order to determine which PHMSA teams will move to the Area Tournament of Champions (TOC).
This was an exciting change, but of course, making the TOC should not be the only goal of a team or coach. All coaches, players and parents should be reminded of AYSOs Mission Statement To develop and deliver quality youth soccer programs which promote a fun, family environment based on the AYSO philosophies.  We feel that his change is true to AYSO’s Mission and Vision statements, and will continue to strengthen PHMSA’s standing as the leading youth soccer organization in Northern California.
The Far Past:
Those of you who have been involved in our organization for a long time will recall that teams in U10, U12 and U14 age groups formerly vied for spots in the TOC based purely on standings, (i.e. wins, losses and ties). This unfairly punished those teams that might have taken a longer time to develop over the course of a season and was thus contrary to the mission of developing players. Because every game counted in the standings, coaches were reluctant to move players into different positions and instead kept them in areas that gave their team the best opportunity to win a particular game. As a result, players were not challenged to learn different skills. Moreover, teams that that took longer over the course of a season to come together were often too late in stringing together wins that would put them in the TOC.
The Immediate Past:
During the past few years, PHMSA addressed this shortcoming in utilizing the standings alone by implementing the PHMSA Regional Tournament. That tournament has been held on the final weekend of our season, and it was introduced so that ALL teams had the chance to move to the TOC.
It permitted coaches the opportunity to focus on working with their players and teams throughout the course of the season, without worrying about standings. As a result, more coaches were willing to move players into different positions, without the fear that a loss or two (or even ten) would preclude them from moving forward to the TOC. This change has produced players that are tactically and technically more sound. It has also shown us that teams, which might have had difficulty early in the season, can come together at the end and still move on to the TOC.
The Present and Future:
The new PHMSA style World Cup format is the next step in this progression. As of Fall 2009, PHMSA is not be keeping standings in any of the age groups. Instead, teams in the U10, U12 and U14 age groups will play their regular season games, just like they have done in the past. But during the final 2-3 weeks of the season, we will place teams in brackets and groups – just like they are placed in the World Cup. Then we will have those teams play in and emerge from their brackets, with the goal of identifying the teams that will move to the TOC.
PHMSA feels this is a major improvement for a number of reasons:
- Eliminating standings permits coaches to take further opportunities to develop players without feeling that a loss might cripple a teams chance to move forward.
- Coaches can concentrate more on player development, rather than game results.
- Division Coordinators will have time to focus on other needs instead of chasing down game cards and updating standings.
- Players should get opportunity to play different positions more often. This should improve the technical and tactical development of players
- With players playing different positions, coaches should be able to more accurately rate players at the end of the season, and make balancing teams easier.
- In discussions with other Regions who have eliminated standings, we have been told that it has led to a more pleasurable environment on the sidelines for parents and coaches, and on the field for players and referees.
- The PHMSA Cup tournament will provide an entertaining and exciting conclusion to the season.
We realize that there are many questions you might have regarding this exciting new chapter in PHMSA history. Feel free to ask them.
We also want everyone to know that their opinion is greatly valued and if they have some ideas on how we can implement our plans, please contact your Division Coordinator or come to a Board Meeting. During the course of the season, make sure you attend one of the Coaches Round tables during the season and you will receive updates on the PHMSA Cup.
Thanks and we will see you out on the field,
Regional Commissioner, PHMSA, AYSO Region 281