There are many pitfalls in youth soccer in our country. Over-invested parents; the pressure to win at too young an age; high-pressure coaches who focus on winning instead of on development; and increased dropout rates because of these and other factors are just some of story lines that we see repeated over and over. Much of this negativity comes because of our collective mindset that the only way for us to measure our childrens progress in soccer is through the scores of their games. How many points their team gets and how many goals our children score have, for too many years, been the metrics by which we gauge their progress. But what if there was a different way to develop soccer players in Canada? What if we could simply teach kids to play better? That is the goal of Willie Cromack, founder of Play Better, an innovative plan to improve sport culture in Canada. The program attempts to shift the mindset of players and parents alike, away from scoreboard success and towards empowering children to discover their potential - both as soccer players and as human beings. Play Better is a grassroots soccer program designed to provide clubs, coaches, parents and players with a clear and accountable pathway through soccer. This includes an LTPD-compliant curriculum, lesson plans complete with desired outcomes, video training sessions, as well as tools for gathering metrics beyond simply the number of goals scored. The reason behind the gathering of those metrics is where the genius lies. Play Better aims to marry a holistic charitable program with the training and development of young soccer players. The program does through by asking teams to do the following: • Choose a cause or charity. For example; the SPCA, the Canadian Cancer Society or your local childrens hospital. • Choose a baseline metric. For example; a recreational team can choose 100 completed passes per game. A more competitive team can choose a larger number, such as 200 completed passes. This is called the team goal or team win. • Have a pre-season meeting with parents to explain your objective; for every game in which your team achieves its team win, ask parents (or friends, family members or sponsors) to donate a pre-determined dollar amount to the team cause/charity. The monetary amount is not important - it can be as little as a loonie per parent/family. • Create a team website, where the kids can tell their story. It gives them a chance to explain, in their own words, how achieving their objective every game will not only help them become better soccer players, but also make a difference in the world. It also allows them to track and promote how much money they have raised for their chosen cause/charity. Team Falcons is a U11 boys gold soccer team in North Vancouver. Click here to see how they have committed to Play Better. I am often asked how we can shift away from the win-at-all-costs mentality that has infected youth soccer in our country. As I have written many times before, it is one of the biggest hurdles we must overcome if we are to create an effective youth development system in Canada. It isnt the players that we need to convince; it is the parents. A program like Play Better might just be the bridge we need to achieve this. As the members of Team Falcons can attest, players participating in Play Better quickly realize that their sporting endeavours have a bigger meaning. It isnt just about winning and losing anymore - it is about helping others. This teaches players to work on their fundamental skills (to complete 100 or 200 passes per games, players have to focus on what they learn in training), but more importantly, it teaches them about helping others, about community investment and about personal growth. What parent doesnt want their child to learn those lessons? If these lessons can be tied into the technical development of young soccer players, then Canadian soccer could be onto something big. *If you or your team is interested in Play Better, you can read more about the program here, or contact Willie Cromack at firstname.lastname@example.org Nacer Chadli Belgium Jersey . However, Therrien added that Galchenyuks status for next Wednesdays game against the Detroit Red Wings is questionable. Galchenyuk has been out since Jan. 6 with a broken right hand. Belgium Blank Jersey . - First-timer Chris Harris Jr. http://www.belgiumsoccerpro.com/Kevin-De...ium-Jersey/.com) - The top spot in the AFC South will be on the line when Houston native Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts shoot for their fourth straight win when they take on the Texans at NRG Stadium. Eden Hazard Jersey . 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Sams teammates and acquaintances easily made the adjustment, plus he proved himself on the field. "Hes a leader," former 49ers great running back Roger Craig said. "I would definitely welcome him on my team. Id play with him any day. I like people who stand up for themselves." Sam revealed he was gay at one of the football teams get-acquainted dinners last summer hosted by Pinkel and assistant coaches. The next day, Pinkel said, Sam told the entire team. Realizing the enormity of the situation, Pinkel left the next move up to the senior who blossomed into one of the best defensive ends in the country -- and one surrounded by teammates who didnt worry one bit about sexual orientation or reveal his secret until he came out on Sunday. Athletes across the campus approve. "Love is love," basketball guard Jordan Clarkson said. "Thats their personal life." Pinkel, athletic director Mike Alden and other school officials applauded Sams courage Monday at Faurot Field. As a backdrop, the first two letters of Sams last name were etched in snow to join the giant "M" just beyond the north end zone. "Pretty cool," Pinkel said. Coaches and Sam agreed that making an announcement during the season might be a distraction. It was Sams call to skip all the weekly media days and postgame news conferences, too, the better to avoid the risk of the topic coming up. Sam broke his silence prior to the Cotton Bowl and the conversation stayed on football, just like he wanted. Sam was prompted to make his decision to come out after the Senior Bowl, where it became apparent the players sexual orientation was widely known. This meant a declaration just days before the NFL ccombine and shouldering the pressure that goes along with the historic declaration.dddddddddddd "Its very clear that everybody in the NFL knew," said Howard Bragman, a consultant hired by Sams agent to help manage the announcement in the media. The NFL and many others, including the White House, publicly applauded Sams decision. President Barack Obamas spokesman, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden all called him a courageous and inspirational athlete. But now, after a few high-profile interviews, its back to silent Sam. The fifth level of the stadium was jammed with dozens of reporters for Mondays news conference but there was no sign of the star attraction. Bragman said Sam was travelling Monday to a camp at an undisclosed location where hell prepare for the combine. Though hes been a most reticent public speaker, Pinkel described Sam as a virtual chatterbox. "He drove me crazy a lot of times, he doesnt shut up sometimes," Pinkel said with a chuckle. "He talks and talks and talks. "You always know hes in with my secretary because I can hear him and I have to close the door -- I cant concentrate." Sam arrived at Missouri without fanfare. Rivals.com gave him just two stars when he was coming out of Hitchcock High School. He had 10 career starts before his breakout senior season. The All-America defensive end led the Southeastern Conference with 11 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He was the co-SEC defensive player of the year. But Sam has been projected as a mid-level NFL draft pick, probably because hes a bit undersized at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds and is likely headed for a transition to outside linebacker. Pinkel doesnt think the announcement will hurt Sams draft status. "Our team was able to move past it and work together," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. "So why shouldnt a bunch of professional football players be able to do the same thing?" There have been a few NFL players who have come out after their playing days, including Kwame Harris and Dave Kopay. "There will be some adjustments that will have to be made, sure," Craig said. "I think it will be a learning curve for the whole league." 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