The details of the new competitive platform for youth development in the United States have yet to be ironed out following the news that the US Soccer Developmental Academy has been discontinued, but Austin FC technical director Claudio Reyna says his hope is that whatever plan is established will lead to some positive changes.
Reyna joined the Austin American-Statesman for an in-depth Q&A on the topic that was published on Friday, saying that Austin FC remains committed to its youth development program with the idea that a new competitive platform that will include other MLS teams will be instituted on the other end of the COVID-19 crisis currently has everything on hold.
"At some point, and probably more importantly with what we're going through now (with the COVID-19 pandemic), is when we can get back out there it will be a different approach because of what we're going through," Reyna said. "This is impacting all the thinking, probably short term. In general, there's going to be youth soccer again, but certainly throughout the United States it's gonna look different. What we at Austin FC are going to be committed to is the continuation of what we set out to do with the addition of two teams (expanding to include U-13, U-14 and U-15 age groups) and find a highly competitive league to compete in that will include MLS teams."
Ideally, Reyna said, the new platform will include tweaks that will build on what the USSDA started and help push youth development in the US forward. One such change he'd like to see is minimizing the cost and travel demands on players to ensure everyone is getting a fair opportunity.
"There's a lot of things that are important that we can maybe change," Reyna said. "The amount of cost. I think we have to be very conscious of how much parents are paying for their kids in all sports, from individual training to just the travel out there. It takes away from the joy a little bit. I grew up in a different time, and I can talk to that. I spent a lot of time playing, but I also was home with my brother and my family. I feel now youth sports has become this industry where you just travel so much. On weekends, long trips. Kids of a young age getting on planes to play games. You're just not quite sure why.
"It's something more generational from my time growing up. It's on steroids. It needs to calm down a little bit. That would be one thing. That would also calm down the hysteria with all the parents about trying to get their kids to college. We're in a different world right now and hopefully that's something that will change, is just the overall cost and those resources."