DISCLAIMER: This post will be a combination of ranting, venting, and thinking. I am therefore disabling comments for this post. Input/opinions can be emailed to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Milwaukee Irish Fest has come and gone (a much more tiring experience than in years past…my age is starting to show, I think) and with it the start of my 11 weeks of rest, recuperation, and future contemplation has commenced. Here is where I stand at this starting point.
I am seriously considering walking away from Milwaukee United Soccer Club. When I founded what would become MUSC in 2008, it was with the notion that it would highlight players who had been left out of club soccer due to finances, logistics, the cutthroat culture of supposedly elite-level soccer, and would have as one of its objectives to bring social justice and/or civic pride to the equation. In the years since, the addition of youth teams has not materialized, the “open” pool has become increasingly lesser-known versions of the over-privileged players that reap opportunities in the pay-to-play system or players that are not on the level necessary to be competitive against those who have been through the standard club system, and the breadth of our footprint has bulged to the point where only a couple of women on our 2015 team actually came from Milwaukee County. The level of commitment and sacrifice has not been there from those associated with the club, and should I choose to stick with this, THAT MUST CHANGE!
If I stay, we WILL be returning to our roots. The biggest undertakings of my sabbatical are two-fold. One is the development of a middle years program that will pick up where the community-based sports organizations (Boys/Girls Club, city recreation departments, public schools, etc.) leave off and keep girls in the game to stop or lessen the gap that develops between the haves and have-nots in the 11-14 age cohort. The other is the implementation of a more robust player intake system for the Women’s Premier League team that uses a player combine rather than the time-intensive, labor-intensive, and one-player-at-a-time system of in-person and online scouting that I have worked with in past seasons. As to returning to our roots, our pool WILL be grounded in providing a platform for our city and county residents to shine, even if that means fielding younger players than we have the last three years. The level of commitment required WILL be spelled-out more emphatically and those who cannot adhere to that level simply will not be part of us in 2016. Others associated with the club will need to step up their games, as well, in order for everything to run on all cylinders, from public relations and marketing to talent development to resource generation, and this includes our players who are out of school and into their post-academic lives.
I will be exploring other avenues in sport where my desire for social change (or dare I say social engineering) can be met. In MUSC’s blueprint, advancing one’s education through soccer is seen as a key element in being able to climb up from one’s present circumstances and achieve “the American Dream” (however one would choose to define that). If those ends cannot be achieved through our endeavors here, then I need to find a place where that is doable. Hence, I will be doing more research over these next couple of months on Unified Sports (a program through Special Olympics where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities compete on the same team) as an avenue whereby my desire to be involved with “sport for good” can be met.
This is Day One, which I will celebrate by doing practically nothing. The laundry and dishes can wait until tomorrow.