On a bright spring afternoon recently, members of the San Jose Earthquakes, Northern California's Major League Soccer team, took the field. Joining them that day was not Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy or Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls, but 150 smiling and excited children from the Red Star Soccer Academy. The ensuing two hour clinic made memories and honed soccer skills for the Mountain View and Los Altos children ages 3 12 who are part of Red Star, a local competitive soccer club.
Brad Ring, Midfielder for the Earthquakes, said, "The clinics are a good way for the Earthquakes to reach out to communities and get our name out there and at the same time grow interest in soccer in the Bay Area. The Red Star players were great kids; they listened real well. It was good seeing the parents out there too supporting their kids' interest in soccer. It was a great clinic. Those are the ones that as a player are enjoyable to do."
According to Adriano Allain, Red Star's Technical Director, "At Red Star, we talk about our motto being 'soccer for life'. Through soccer, the kids learn life lessons such as working as a team, facing and overcoming adversity and setting and achieving goals. Our goal is to give our players the opportunity to play soccer in a supportive and rewarding environment that emphasizes fun, a love of the game and skill development at a level that fits his or her ability and desire. The San Jose Earthquakes clinic was a perfect forum for that."
Allain added, "It was great to support our local professional soccer team. The kids got to see their idols up close. They were in awe. Especially just a few days later, when we had a club outing to the Earthquakes' 3 0 win over the Columbus Crew and the kids got to see the players they'd met in action 400 Red Star players and their families attended the game."
Allison Aldrich, whose son, Jackson, attended the Earthquakes clinic and game related, "The kids really fed off of the passion of the Earthquakes players. Jackson's Red Star coaches are equally enthusiastic through them, he's developed a love of the game while learning technical skills, team work, and sportsmanship."
The club's philosophy takes a long term view. According to Allain, "For a player to reach their full potential requires dedication, hard work, and self-belief. To reach the elite level of these Earthquakes players it takes a long-term commitment to practice and training. This is often referred to as the ten year or 10,000 hour rule."
Allain described Red Star's approach as "player centered, meaning we focus on what is in the best interest of the kids. Every kid is unique and different and we need to adjust our coaching methods accordingly. We are also coach driven. All soccer and technical decisions are made by our professional staff and coaches. They have expertise in child development, technical skills development and are supported by the latest sports science and of course our Red Star parents."
Regarding Red Star's focus on development, Juan Cordon, a parent, said "Red Star has given my son an appreciation for the game as well as building his confidence in his soccer abilities. He now knows that if he plays hard and practices his game will get better. It's gotten the entire family excited about soccer. The enthusiasm of the coaches is contagious and fun to watch."
Founded in Fall, 2009 with two teams and summer camps, Red Star has grown to 16 competitive teams for boys and girls ages 7 to 12. According to its website, Red Star is focused on youth player development and is a non-profit educational organization. The soccer club competes in the Nor Cal Premier League and US Club Soccer sanctioned tournaments.
Red Star also offers a pre-competitive program for boys and girls ages 5 10 which emphasizes an introduction to "the beautiful game" and proper execution of basic techniques such as dribbling, passing, receiving and shooting in a fun yet challenging environment. This spring also marked the debut of "mini stars", which is designed to help boys and girls ages 3 5 take their "first steps in soccer".
Red Star Soccer Academy's Fall 2011 Soccer Tryouts for their competitive teams are June 6th - June 12th. During tryouts, Red Star will collect used soccer balls and other soccer gear to donate to the East Palo Alto Charter School. As Allain said, "We're happy that our Red Star families will be 'passing back' in this way and looking forward to another fantastic year. We encourage all interested players and their families to come to our try outs and see the difference in our approach."
For information or to learn more about Red Star visit: www.redstarsoccer.com