AIFF Media Team
VASCO (GOA): The United States of America’s U-16 National Team has been a regular feature in most of the editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. On the sidelines of USA’s participation in the AIFF Youth Cup, www.the-aiff.com caught up with USA’ Head of Youth Team, Jim Moorhouse to talk at length about the Footballing culture in the States, Scouting, Youth Development, the acceptance of Soccer in the same League as NBA, American Football and Baseball and much more. EXCERPTS:
It has taken a long time for the American population to accept Soccer as a major sport. Back in the 1980s and the 1990s it was difficult for Soccer to grab eyeballs and Soccer was clearly in the lower tiers in terms of popularity. But that has changed over the last 5-10 years and with the Major League Soccer (MLS) in its 20th year, the popularity is booming.
All were apprehensive of Soccer but now it’s put in the same league as Basketball, Hockey and American Football. Moreover, the National Team’s consistent performances have also led to the rise of Soccer in the States. The National Team has to do well.
Shed some light on the Youth Development in the States and how do you assess it?
When you talk about Player development it has to be a 50 year project and not a 5 or 10 year project. It does not work that way. We created a development Academy 10 years ago and it unified the Youth Clubs across the Country — paving a way for all Youth Clubs to be on the same schedule, thus making sure that everyone is following a right process in terms of Youth Development.
As long as there is a process and a plan and a Club has a healthy mindset about Youth Development, Players will come into the pipeline. The best way to assess Youth Development is through results achieved by the National Team and how an individual Player is competing at the highest level with a different Club.
How beneficial is the Development Academy in terms of scouting?
It has helped us unify our scouting efforts. As USA is a big country like India and has a large demography, hence, it is easier for us to scout from the Development Academy as that is where the cream is.
Is demography a challenge for big countries like USA and India when it comes to scouting?
Demography of a country is a double-edged sword it helps and hurts too. It helps because there is a bigger pool of Players to choose from and at the same time it hurts because it is a challenge to have each and every corner of the Country covered through scouts.
There is a cliché in the States that ‘Soccer’ is something that you pick your eight year old daughter from.
That is the old clichéd saying where Soccer was considered analogous to babysitting. That is past as it was spoken about when there wasn’t much infrastructure. But it is an old mindset.