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North Polk United Soccer

north polk united soccer club changes on the horizon

There are a number of changes coming in the next year. Below is a highlight of the information, discussions and decisions that led us there. The main changes will be to the league affiliations for teams U12 and above and mandatory birthdate and age division revisions.

North Polk United is joining Iowa Soccer League – Occurring Fall 2016!!!
We have been a part of many discussions, all-clubs board meetings and listened to proposals from Iowa Soccer over the last six months concerning possible opportunities for our club. Iowa Soccer has proposed the development of another league that could eventually replace the Greater Des Moines Junior Soccer League, which is what we are currently a part of. We have weighed the pros and cons of making a change and what they might mean for our club. Here is a breakdown of what was proposed and why we chose the direction we did:

Professional Management vs. Volunteer Management
This weighed heavily in our decision. The GDMJSL board is currently made up of volunteers, many of whom are already board members at the club level and coach also. This means that these folks do double or triple duty and it becomes very taxing and labor-intensive. Additionally, these positions can and do change quite often and it can be difficult to fill those at times (currently the president position has been vacant for seven plus months). Additionally, when rule changes occur or other initiatives/concerns need to be addressed, they must form committees to resolve these issues from that same pool of people. We just don’t think it’s fair to continue to ask so much from a small group of people who already do so much.

With the explosion of soccer in Iowa and the U.S. in general, management becomes more and more complicated, and a full time job for some of these volunteers. Iowa Soccer is governed by U.S. Soccer, which in turn is governed by FIFA internationally. Changes will continue to occur, which means someone will need to be educated on all of this in order to make the right decisions.

Iowa Soccer is run by professionals who have many decades of experience in club development and the governing of soccer. They already act as the governing body for the GDJMSL and understand how our league is set up. They will bring some technological benefits to the league, including real-time management of fields, closures, contact information and notifications through one source. Additionally, they can implement other approaches and solutions they have tested with the other established leagues they run and make soccer in Iowa a state initiative, beyond the local reach of the GDMJSL. Iowa Soccer also provides professional leadership and resources to club boards at no extra cost.

What costs are associated with this?
Iowa Soccer has indicated that the costs will be the same for the next two years — $25 per team — the same price we currently pay GDMJSL. Because they could not get actual P&L hard cost numbers on what it takes to run our league currently from GDJMSL, they have estimated it at $40 in 2018 and do not see it being more than that and holding steady. We currently have 14 teams that would be affected by this cost if it happened today. Projecting to 2018 it looks closer to 20 teams. That would be a cost increase of $300 total, which we foresee the club absorbing easily. So we do not see cost as a real issue and will address it with Iowa Soccer if it becomes so. They are a non-profit and will need to keep costs in check, otherwise we could possibly move away from them. As we understand it, it is a fluid relationship without contracts.

Number of Games Scheduled Reduced from 8 to 7
Why would we do this or it even be proposed? A number of reasons. First, by playing 7 games over 8 weeks, we will have a built-in bye week so teams can reschedule games easier. Percentages tell us that the majority of teams need to reschedule at least one game a season. Second, other opportunities will be provided if you want eight games or more. The bye weekends will hit on tournament weekends (Kohl’s Cup), so if you want a chance to play in it you do not need to change your schedule or play an additional weekend. The board will entertain the idea of subsidizing teams that want to participate in Kohl’s Cup. You will also be afforded the opportunity to play in a tournament or a “friendly” with another club. Friendlies would be offered up by Iowa Soccer, who manages other leagues around the state. Many of those teams would like the opportunity to play against teams outside of their area and are actually willing to travel to central Iowa since they play those same teams all the time. Iowa Soccer would schedule those games for those teams that wish to partake at the beginning of the season. It would not be on the shoulders of the coaches to coordinate outside of referees if playing on a home field.

Referee Pressure Reduced
This also reduces the number of referees needing to be scheduled. Referee shortages are real and will only continue to be difficult over the next few years. We as a club are looking to broaden our range for refs so we have more accessibility. When you have reschedules falling on normal game weekends, the pool to pull from is that much slimmer because the refs are already tapped out. Having this additional weekend will open up some opportunities for securing refs.

Greater Des Moines Junior Soccer League still viable for the time being
A vote and commitment by clubs is required by January 8th. There has been some talk that some clubs are staying with GDMJSL because they fear they will lose their voice. As it was, there were 39 clubs who all got a chance to talk at meetings and vote. While we may not have a “vote” persay anymore, Iowa Soccer will be forming an advisory board to work with them on changes and opportunities for improvement, in addition to clubs being able to voice concerns at regular meetings. We do not see this as a large obstacle. From what we know today, they have enough teams to start a league and will more than likely have more than half of the current clubs and we project that it will be more than that.

Iowa Soccer currently runs leagues that run 6 games over 8 weeks. We wanted at least 7 to start and see where it goes after.

AGE GUIDELINES – Occurring January 2017!!!

New birthdate guidelines will affect current age divisions.
U.S. Soccer is implementing international guidelines. The current guidelines follow a “school age” framework. New seasons and age division movements have traditionally happened in the Fall when school grades change. They will change to calendar year in Spring 2017. That means the following:

The old rules state that if your birthday fell after August 1st of a given year, you could play in a lower division (i.e. if you turned 10 after August 01 you would still be eligible for U9). Now those kids who have birthday from August 01 through December 31 of the same year will be in the same division as those kids who have birthdays prior to August 01, meaning they may need to move up and play for a different team if the entire team cannot or does not want to move up. At least 60% of the team must be at the current age group to “play up”.

We have until 2017 to implement this in its entirety. We will be addressing this over the the next 12 months to see what kind of impact this will have and work with coaches and teams on the best possible outcomes. See the chart below for age brackets:

Microsoft Word - 151104 PDI Update Final.docx

Roster sizes will also be expanded for teams as well to add to flexibility when trying field one team instead of two small ones.

Additional information will be coming in the future and we will update you when we receive it. We try and make decisions that will best serve our soccer community while keeping the best value in mind. Please understand that this is an ongoing process and we are making strides to better the club.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me at