UPDATE: The Alberta Soccer Association has said it will only remove an emphasis on standings and winning and losing for athletes under the age of 12 after consulting with members — this comes despite a top director with the organization saying Sunday it was only a matter of time before such a shift occurs.
As well, spokesperson Lindsay-Anne Freire said Monday younger athletes would still be able to keep track of the score even if such a transition was put forward.
“We still need to consult with members before going ahead with this,” she said.
Reaction from parents to a Metro article on the matter Monday has been swift, with many parents openly advocating against the move, one that has been dictated by the Canadian Soccer Association in a long-term player development strategy.
The criticism came in response to a comment from ASA technical director Shaun Lowther that a move away from keeping track of winners and losers would happen, adding, “I think whether the implementation is over one year, two years or three, that’s still to be determined.”
The move would follow a similar one underway in Ontario, where all 21 soccer districts in that province will phase out scoring for athletes under the age of 12 by next year.
In Alberta, Lowther said, the policy would follow similar guidelines, taking a cue from a 2008 long-term player development plan produced by the Canadian Soccer Association, which emphasized skill development over competition for younger athletes.
“They are telling us this is what they want us to do,” Lowther said, noting many of the top soccer countries in the world — like Spain, Italy and Germany – all have some restriction on emphasizing winning and losing for their youngest athletes.
But soccer parent Julio Arcila isn’t sold. He watched Sunday as his 12-year-old son Julian and fellow squad mates competed hard until a bitter end that saw them lose on penalty kicks.
“Soccer is about competition,” he said. “It’s about team effort — scoring is a really important part of that.”
LeAnne Matherly said she wasn’t sure her now-13-year-old Zeb would have stuck with the game so passionately if the thrill of scoring didn’t exist.
“That (scoring) is what makes soccer soccer,” she said. “It’s not T-ball anymore if you know what I mean.”
Zeb agreed without a moment’s hesitation when given a choice on the matter.
“Scoring,” he said.
Lowther said a consultation with the public would likely commence in the near future on the no-score policy.