I’ve watched a lot of kids play recreational sports, and I’ve coached in several local leagues the past 15 years: YMCA basketball, Santa Anita Little League and AYSO Region 2. As a family, we have also been fortunate to see our two oldest sons play varsity sports at , so you can say we are a seasoned youth sports family — a.k.a. old!!!
To be quite honest, as a native Californian, I never really expected my oldest son to stay in soccer. At the time, we thought, "He’ll play a couple of years and then he’ll move on to the real sports."
Fast forward 15 years later and we have never left AYSO Region 2 soccer!
The reason I’m writing this article is to give my personal perspective on AYSO versus club soccer. I believe club soccer is without question a good option, but can also be a bad option. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons.
If your goal is to have your child play college soccer, then club soccer is an absolute must. Every year at Arcadia High and Monrovia High, we have seen several kids fortunate enough to move on and play at the college level.
The key question is, “When do I transition to club?”
I see too many kids go club too early and parents get caught up in the hype that “my kid is a club player." Truth be told, there’s a lot of kids in club soccer that are no better than our AYSO Regional All-Star players.
If you’re going to choose club soccer, do your homework. As I mentioned, some club teams are equivalent to AYSO teams, only you’re paying a lot more money. Is the club team bronze, silver, silver elite, gold, etc? Also, interview the club coach and trainers — there are too many stories of emotional and verbal abuse that takes all the fun out of the game.
The very earliest I would recommend a player going club is U12, while U14 is the best. Why do clubs recruit U8-U10 AYSO players? Answer: Club soccer is a BUSINESS and they want your MONEY. It’s been interesting to see the many kids who go club and a year later return to AYSO.
Last, I have seen a lot of very gifted kids suffer burn out before they even reach high school. Playing year round sports year after year takes an emotional toll on kids. I personally enjoy a season of no sports, so we can go to the beach or sleep in on a weekend. My oldest son, his eighth-grade year played fall AYSO, winter All-Stars, spring soccer, then summer tournaments. His freshman year at Arcadia High, he told us that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to try out for the soccer team!
For $150 bucks versus $2,000, AYSO Region 2 has a pretty good soccer program. I’ll be the first to tell you that we’re not always as good as club teams. However, both of my older sons played Varsity soccer at Arcadia High School WITHOUT club soccer, and for that, I’m grateful to AYSO Region 2.
AYSO Fall Registration is April 21 and May 5 at in Arcadia. Check ayso2.org for details.
We have 2,000 kids in our fall program, rated a Platinum Region and operate one of the best youth soccer leagues in Southern California. As an all-volunteer league, AYSO Region 2 is all about the kids!
Reach Ken Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.