The FC Wichita 2010 Pre-Academy boys have been pursuing their development pathway for almost two years. Coached by Jon Harris and David Gray, these young boys are in the early phases of their player development, but the fruits of their labor have the club excited about the potential contributions these young players can make to the club in the future.
In the early phases of development, winning games is not the goal in player development. However, winning does become the byproduct of developmental progress. There is no doubting the progress made by these young aspiring players as they rack-up the hardware and gain national recognition from coaches who appreciate their development. These players are demonstrating attractive fluid soccer that exceeds years beyond their peers without sacrificing the young players’ desire to showcase their individual skills on the ball.
When asked about the boys’ development, Coaches Jon and Davie report that their pathway was outlined three years- ago when they observed some of the older FC Wichita teams competing in the local league. “It was refreshing to see those older boys play attractive possession-based soccer locally. We were growing frustrated with the status quo of player development and what people perceived to be competitive soccer,” said Coach Jon. “FC Wichita’s older boys have laid a pathway around the nation for us to compete against like-minded clubs with players of similar abilities,” reports Coach Davie.
The 2010 boys’ early success has been no accident. The process of grouping boys of similar aptitude is paramount. They train together more than they play matches. This training strategy serves as the perfect medium for the boys to grow mentally and physically. Coaches Jon and Davie stress the importance of early engagement and aptitude identification to provide young players the best opportunity to excel. “The local market incentivises diluting the talent pool in all age groups by not consolidating players. The players of high aptitude need to be together to propel their growth, states Coach Jon.” “By diluting the talent, we are not preparing players to compete at higher levels if they aspire to do so. It’s a mistake to think that the local market is your players competition. Young players wanting to pursue collegiate and professional opportunities are not just competing against other local players for those spots, this is an international game, and players from around the world are actively seeking those same scholarships if their professional careers don’t take hold in their home country,” said Coach Davie.
“That is why those young boy’s success is not an accident; Along with FC Wichita, we have set our goals higher than people are used to locally. Being competitive locally is not our measurement of success. We are training to meet the international standards. It’s what being player-centered is all about. We nurture their individual abilities and place them with the appropriate peers. The wins that people are naturally inclined to focus on just follow the process. “I truly believe we have international quality talent locally, but the likelihood that it comes to fruition diminishes rapidly when not nurtured.” says Coach Jon. Coaches Jon and Davie look forward to their players’ journey along the developmental pathway as they work toward helping each player make their debut for the FC Wichita senior team. Doing so as the youngest players in club history would make it even more sweet. “This is a long-term projection, but we have big goals and a tangible pathway to realize them.” says Coach Jon.