Bring on the Robots

“The Three Laws of Robotics:

1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;

2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law;

3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as new legislative protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law;

The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
― Isaac AsimovI, Robot

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be in the same room with Alex Chiet, the Chief Technical Officer of the Ontario Soccer Association and Nick Levatt, National Development Manager (Youth and Mini Soccer) for England’s FA both of who gracious with their time and discussion regarding youth soccer in Ontario and England.

At one point the conversation moved towards curriculum and whether one was needed to aide in the implementation of Long Term Player Development in Ontario one, if not the primary, responsibility of Chiet in his role with the OSA.  A national curriculum, long rumoured is, in my opinion, will be a key component in the implementation and ongoing success of LTPD.

Although not surprised by the responses of Chiet and Levatt, who’s role with the English FA is similar to Chiet’s here in Ontario to the idea of providing a full curriculum (a season’s worth of lesson plans) for coaches – I am convinced they are both, in this instance, mistaken.

In summary, both spoke of being cautious and while providing at least a partial curriculum or a limited number of sample sessions was planned neither association wanted to produce “robots” but coaches that could think for themselves.

While I understand the reason for both caution and concern having lived through the 80’s and 90’s of coaching education in this country a time of “we don’t want you all to be the same but here’s how we want it done” automaton speak I don’t think the reasoning can be applied to the current situation.

LTPD is new, fairly complex in it’s entirety and very dependent on the timely delivery of the right information (technical, physical and mental content) at the right time (age).

To implement and deliver LTPD we need consistency in messaging, similarity in presentation and conformity in content for our youngest players that can only come through the application of a well designed and implemented curriculum.  A curriculum that guides both players and coaches (both new and new to the material) through the process of learning and development.

What we don’t need is new and lesser experienced leaders struggling to to find material or even worse finding material thanks to the internet that has absolutely no bearing or application to the players they are in charge of and then ad libbing their way through training sessions based on best intentions and a “this is how we did it when I was kid” mentality.

Give them the tool and most coaches, especially the new ones at the young ages will use it and perhaps give our players the leg up they need to move forward in the game.

At this moment in time and for this job robots may actually be what we need and in fact may be our only hope.

Detective Del Spooner: Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a… canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?

Sonny: Can *you*?

I, Robot