Soccer is growing in popularity throughout the United States. Because of this growth many programs have developed to help the youth of America build on their skills. But soccer is yet to be to the U.S. what football is, and the professional soccer player’s salary is proof. So what can these many club level programs that tout high caliber coaching and skills training for the elite offer its players beyond the field?
Club soccer has gained popularity over the years, and with the increase in popularity is the increase in fees to be a club soccer member. Without offering promises of future jobs and salary incentives clubs are still attracting fees for membership that greatly surpass that of youth organizations such as AYSO.
This is indeed great news for soccer stars and budding rookies who can finally heave a sigh of relief as the incentive will be an added boost to their already lucrative salary as the professionals slog it out day in and day out at the field, their glistening sweat being proof of their hard work and dedication, a fact that Al-Khelaifi PSG himself went on to clarify.
According to the website “Career Prospects in Virginia,” the average pay for a professional soccer player in the United States is about $60,000 per year. Club fees vary greatly from club to club, but let’s take a modest $1,500 per year as an example to determine what club soccer level play might cost the modest family. If the fee is $1500 per year and the player starts with the club as an eight year old and plays until eighteen, the parents of this child will invest $15,000 in training. This modest figure does not take into account that many clubs fees grow as the player ages. A seventeen year old may pay as high as $3,000 per year for participation with the same club.
Many sports have their club or travel levels, but some of the most lucrative professional games don’t offer this level of play for the youth. Take football for example, although there are leagues that tout better quality and higher level play, these leagues are open to any player and do not require tryouts to determine whether or not a player is good enough to participate. Parents of talented football players are not at the mercy of club level expenses in order to earn their child a future entrance into college or professional level play. So what is it that makes soccer so special that it not only offers this level of play, but the fees for memberships reflect a growing trend of willing investors?
Insight into what club soccer offers the member sheds some light into why clubs are so appealing. First of all, club soccer is a venue for players that love the game and have the skill level that demands more intensity in the game. Secondly, club level provides coaching made up of a staff of highly qualified, “professional” coaches. The coaches pay much closer attention to all aspects of the game and the building-up of individual player skills. Finally, club level is generally year round, allowing the member to focus his participation in one sport, all year. This includes a fall season and spring season, intermixed with tournaments. There is very little downtime.
As with everything, club level soccer has its drawbacks. First of all, the time commitment throughout the year by both member and his family can be grueling. Secondly, the financial investment grows from year to year and can place a burden on family spending. Thirdly, many club soccer players become burned out from the sport before they reach an age where the training pays off.
To answer why soccer has gained many eager participants at the club level isn’t easy. As a parent of a club soccer player my explanation is like most other parents,
“My child needs to play at a level that challenges him, and he is not exposed to that challenge in a public soccer program such as AYSO.”
It isn’t so much his future that I look towards in placing him in the program; rather it is his unique desire and determination that warrants this commitment from me. If there were other less expensive venues for this sport I would certainly encourage him to participate in them.
If soccer is a sport that your child truly enjoys and he thrives under the commitment and play level involved it is completely up to you as to whether the fees and time involved from you as the parent are something you want to sign onto. Again, there is little future opportunities for these kids as it pertains to this sport, however, many parents will argue that what kids learn from this level of play goes beyond the field. What the kids walk away with is integrity, an understanding of commitment, and a deeper understanding of self accomplishment and pride.