It's true that less than one percent of soccer players in Canada have a chance of becoming professional players. However, that does not mean that young players should not be given the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of what that may be. We believe that it’s more realistic for our players to end up with a University or College soccer scholarship than a professional contract. Our objective is to help players fulfill their potential and therefore we provide realistic pathways to that end. As an Associate Member of the Saskatchewan Soccer Association, we are in the business of providing high quality soccer instruction.
Choosing the Right Program
ASTRA programs are based on Developmental Age rather than Chronological Age. This means that a 12 year old player who is advanced physically, technically, tactically, socially and psychologically may train with 14 year olds, and vice versa. This also means that a child is placed in a group that best meets his/her needs. If they still need basic footwork and ball control, they will not be placed with a group that has already mastered that aspect.
Parents often make the mistake of competing with friends and neighbours and consequently place their children in situations that set them up for failure. This practice serves to destroy their self-confidence. In a game where self-confidence means so much, this is very damaging. It is difficult, but parents should try their best to be objective about the stage of development that their child has reached, and choose the right program for them. We all tend to see our own kids through rose coloured glasses, but we must realize the consequences of putting a child in a situation where they will be in over their heads, or conversely in a situation that will not serve to motivate, challenge and inspire them.
The Role of Parents
Parents play a critical role in the development of players, and sadly, there are many parents who have adversely affected the futures of many promising players. Allowing a child to develop at his or her own pace takes patience and understanding on behalf of parents. There are many parents who live vicariously through their children and do not want to recognize the structured development that is required for all sports. Respectfully, we say that ASTRA is not the right place for parents of this type. While learning to win is an important part of ASTRA's culture, it is not the most important factor. Our job is to instill the solid fundamentals that the majority of Saskatoon soccer players lack. So we ask simply that parents educate themselves about the game and offer continual support to their children and to our staff. We are always open and willing to discussing your child's progress with you.
Academy Director Percy Hoff is one of the most experienced and qualified coaches in the country. With in-depth training in countries such as Brazil, Holland, United Kingdom and the USA, Percy has over 30 years of experience in the development of youth players, and works consistently to improve soccer in Saskatchewan. He has coached at all levels including work with National Youth Teams, Provincial Teams, the University of Saskatchewan and many club teams.
Percy oversees a group of staff coaches, all of whom are qualified, educated and currently mentoring in Saskatchewan Soccer's Coach Development Program. Most importantly, our coaches are constantly reminded that we are dealing with the development of young people, rather than just soccer players. ASTRA coaches are asked to be demanding in terms of training standard, but they will never be demeaning or negative. Rather they are asked to constantly reinforce good work, behaviour and leadership.
Impact of Training
ASTRA trained players consistently form 40 percent of Provincial Teams. If you watch local league play, you will easily be able to spot ASTRA players as they exhibit a controlled style of play and individual ball skills. Getting players to this level of competence takes time and especially patience. It's important to give all players time to develop as they have many years to play the game.