NMSA is implementing a “Pool Play” model for competitive teams at the 2008 and 2009 (U9 and U10) age groups for the 2017-18 soccer year. MYSA and other associations throughout the nation have considered this model and many use some variation to focus on age group development over team focus and results. Our model will allow the NMSA to work within MYSA guidelines when forming teams, but still give the greatest flexibility to have players train and develop both as individuals within an age group and their teams. Movement between teams will not be elaborate and there will still be a "team concept" within the pool model, as we do know there is value to that as well. Finally, this model allows NMSA to provide training across the age level as well as put players in game experiences depending on how they are progressing throughout the year. Specific details are provided below.
Player Identification/Fall Team Formation
At player identifications in July, we will form one Maroon Team (the top playing level within the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association - MYSA) and one to three Gold Teams (the second level within MYSA) at both the U9 and U10 age groups and for both genders. Each of these teams will have an assigned coach. The numbers of teams will depend on the number of players, but for an example, we will use 30 players.
The Maroon Team that will be formed for the fall would consist of 8 players. With all MYSA teams moving to a 7 v 7 format this fall this would only provide for one "sub" for that group if all players were in attendance for a game. To ensure that the team has more than one sub at each game, 2-3 players that were placed on the gold team(s) would guest play with the Maroon Team for each MYSA game.
Remaining players would be divided between gold teams to form balanced teams as best as possible. In the case of 30 players, two gold teams of 11 would be formed. Players are allowed to guest play between gold teams to make sure they have enough players for each game at both the U9 and U10 age groups.
Up to 3 players can be moved between teams for each game, but week to week this would likely only involve 2-4 players to maintain continuity. Coaches and directors would coordinate to make sure all teams are taken care of for games each week and the correct players are guest playing between teams, based on how they are doing in training/games at that time.
U9 and U10 groups, separated by age and gender, will train as a group two days a week in the fall, as one age group pool. One association director (Director of Soccer Operations, Coaching Director, Development Director or Technical Director) will lead those sessions along with the coaches put in place during team formations. Some activities would be done as one larger group of 30 with the director and coaches working together floating between players. Some activities would also be split into multiple groups with each group doing the same activity, but objectives and coaching varying depending on the ability of each group. This allows for a consistent training model for each age group, while still being able to have players train at the level most appropriate to them. Groups may break into their assigned teams as well during pool training. This is similar to the model we use with comp prep that many of our players have came through and has been a very effective way to train an age group as a whole while still providing a team dynamic.
MYSA games are on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall, allowing the director and coaches to make the proper decision week to week about guest players for the upcoming weekend. Floating players/parents will be asked to do so at the end of end of the second pool training day each week and can accept or decline. These players should vary some each week based on that weeks training and the past weekend games.
Age group specific Pool Training for the winter will be available for players to sign up for on an individual basis. Coaches may also form teams for indoor leagues and/or futsal for those interested in playing over the winter . The goal is to provide opportunities for those that want to continue training and playing through the winter, while still providing the flexibility needed for players to play other sports and be involved in other activities.
Spring Team Formation
For the spring/summer season, we will do a simple reevaluation of players to set the roster of 8 Maroon players in the same manner as the fall season which will allow for some changes, depending on how players progress during the year, with the remaining players rostered on balanced gold teams. This will likely be done in February as teams need to be set for the spring to plan for tournaments, etc. There will still clearly be a team concept to each age group, but the pool training/playing model will provide the flexibility to move a few players around as needed.
Spring pool training will be on Sunday nights with all players from age groups, separated by age and gender, training together. Players would also train with their rostered team and coach on Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu (dependant on age and gender) based on the schedule set by MYSA. Guest playing between teams will be determined Sunday night after pool training and again would only involve a few players each week.