Players with Ponoka Minor Soccer received vital soccer training that will give them key long-term skills.
Two training events were hosted last week with a coach from the Central Alberta Soccer Association (CASA) teaching players from Lacombe and Ponoka important skills on Tuesday, April 28. T
he next day Paul Stone, coach for the Augustana Campus Vikings women’s soccer team, showed goalies the ins and outs of goalkeeping.
Lonny Behm, minor soccer vice-president and director of player and coach development, said the association has advocated a long-term player development approach for many years and has started to see some success in that area.
CASA recently adopted a long-term player development program for the U12 players mixed in with competitive games. While it’s not exactly where Ponoka soccer wants to be with player development, Behm says it is a good start.
“Players are subjected to too many games and not enough training time,” said Behm.
He says there is a strong desire from parents to see their kids playing games, especially after paying to get their kids involved, but at the U12 age level training is important. Canada is one of the only countries that have minor soccer but where long-term player development is not a focus, says Behm. “The big thing is to change our culture.”
For goalies, Behm said many times decent training is difficult to acquire unless a coach or parent used to be one. Stone was there to give young goalies best hit and save skills.
“Our goalies are kind of lagging behind a bit so we brought in Paul Stone,” said Behm.
The soccer association is taking player and coach development seriously because Behm suggests the best way to ensure athletes do well is with empowerment.
“Our association wants to train coaches to properly train players. Our biggest thing is giving all our coaches the proper resources,” added Behm.
U16 boys vs Ponoka men’s team
Before the Battle River Men’s Football League got underway last weekend, Ponoka’s senior men’s team played a practice game against last year’s provincial runners-up U16 Storm on Wednesday, April 29.
Head coach of the U16 team, who also plays for the men’s team, described it as a “good game.”
“Obviously we couldn’t contain the men’s size, strength and speed, but we held our own,” he said.
“We moved the ball and defended really well at times. This was a good experience for the guys and good for us (coaches) to see what we need to work on going forward.”