Over the last eight years, Prosper Areas Soccer Organization (PASO) has introduced multiple programs geared towards the benefit of its recreational players. The programs, which focus on everything from a more interactive and free-flowing 4-Under age group to the opportunity for more players to be exposed to a competitive environment within the confines of PASO, allow for the North Texas Soccer association to continue to grow its membership.
PASO President Robert Patrick, who cut his teeth as the Boy’s Commissioner and the Chairperson of Facilities before becoming president, explained how a couple modification to its 4-Under games allowed for more players sign up the following season.
“Over the last eight years we have had the U4 coaches on the field with the players, and we use flexible Bownets so if the kids crash into the goals, they aren’t hurt,” Patrick said. “We have painted lines and flags, but we allow the players not to respect them. At that age there is a limit to what they can comprehend, but by the following year they respect the lines, and there is a big difference in comprehension of the game between those who play U4, and those who don’t.”
In addition to a modified 4-Under league, PASO offers training sessions for recreational players once a week in order for them to be exposed to coaches with advanced experiences. The session also doubles as an avenue for parent coaches to witness a professional coach put on a training session specifically geared towards recreational players.
“The training session allows the more aggressive parents and players the opportunity to train a second time each week. Our training sessions usually have 100-150 players, and 15-20 percent of our membership will participate,” Patrick said. “A lot of coaching clinics deal with advanced players and don’t satisfy the needs of parent coaches because they aren’t geared towards inexperienced players.”
Patrick explained that instead of charging per session, Proper pays for the sessions by spreading out the cost to every player’s registration fee. As registration has grown, the amount per player has halved. Patrick also mentioned PASO will rent out an indoor field house in the event that the weather does not cooperate. In the 4-Under skill session, parents are encouraged to participate. This allows an added layer of comfort younger players, but it also familiarizes parents with coaching and leads to more parents volunteering to coach the following season.
One program that PASO has introduced more recently is an academy program modeled after what McKinney Soccer Association has implemented. The aim is to expose more advanced recreational players to a competitive environment while also remaining with his/her recreational team.
“All of our grass fields are closed on Wednesday in Prosper, so we rent out the turf field for players who are currently registered with PASO so some of the better recreational player can explore academy without making a commitment to a competitive club,” Patrick said. “The games are also played on Sunday, which allows the players to practice and play games with his/her recreational team while also practicing and playing academy.”
The program is run at cost, and it allows recreational players a cheaper alternative to a competitive club in order to test the waters of competitive play, while ultimately creating a family environment.
“It allows for a significant savings for the player, and it allows us to keep Prosper kids in Prosper,” Patrick said. “A lot of our membership is a part of multi-player families. So these players practice and play at one location, and a couple of Saturday games turn into a family outing of Saturday at the park.”