The Buy In and Selling of LTPD

Seth Godin: “Consumers don’t care about you…”

No where is this more apparent than in the attempt so far to sell the concept of Long Term Player Development to soccer consumers in Canada.  While districts, clubs, technical directors and most coaches may be buying in and at least “talking the talk” the apparent  buy in from the parents and players appears to be lagging.

Need proof – check out the comments sections of LTPD stories in any of our major news publications. (Examples from the Toronto Star and the Hamilton Spectator) – even the self professed soccer parents commenting run from understanding and support of LTPD to confusion by what it means for them and their child to at the worst angry… very angry.

The provincial associations, at least in Ontario, have spent time, energy and money ‘preaching to the choir” as it were holding workshops and information sessions directed primarily at clubs, administrators in the hope, I assume, that information like other materials would flow down hill to the consumer – the parent and player.

It is the conventional methodology that associations, districts and clubs have relied on for as long as I’ve been involved in the game and the only problem with this top down information dissemination is that it fails occasionally and quite often completely to get the intended message to the intended recipients.

Passing information through district, club then coach allows too many opportunities for personal bias, attitude and influence to enter into the discussion. Like a country wide game of telephone the message at the end of the day while possibly resembling the original is often missing key bits of information and arrives slightly distorted and often without effect.

You truly want the pure message of LTPD to reach the grassroots – then you have to get dirty and get right down there in the muddy mix and talk to parents and players directly  eye to eye. Tell them HGH, no better yet, show them what LTPD is, how it works and the reasons why this is the way forward for a game that has accomplished little of note and epitomized failed potential for far too long.

Now I’m sure individuals and even clubs are engaging parents on a 1v1 basis but as far as I can tell or find out there has been no direct contact between the Provincial governing bodies and their registered members.

And there lies the key.

Somewhere there exists in every province a database with the mailing address and contact information of every parent/guardian who registered a player last season. It’s a direct marketers wet dream.  That no one has used this mountain of data to directly contact and explain the who, what, where, when and most importantly why of LTPD to the people who will ultimately decide it’s acceptance or failure (the parents) and the people most affected by it (the players) is baffling.

The governing bodies need to deliver an honest, simple and direct message to the parents and players:

“We believe in Long Term Player Development and the benefits it will bring to your child and their growth and development within the game and life. Change is always difficult but we are here to facilitate and discuss the process. We need your help to make this happen.”

Ultimately LTPD cannot and will not be fully implemented until the consumers, parents and players, are in favour. And parents and players won’t be in favour until they are better informed.

I’ve been told time and time again but many “but the information is out there” – indeed it is but putting the responsibility on parents and players to self educate themselves is taking the easy way out and will not get the job done and may even lead to alienation of the very people you need for this to work.