During 1999, the Mid-Ohio Select Soccer League, (M.O.S.S.L.), a competitive youth soccer league of approximately 5,800 players, instituted a policy, requiring a mandatory minimum level of either a nationally recognized coach's license, or practical coaching experience, for all of its registered coaches. This substantial change in policy was put in place in an attempt to improve the overall quality of coaching available to the youth soccer players of the greater Columbus area. This policy, as enacted in M.O.S.S.L. Bylaw 11.0, (which is shown below), stipulates varying license levels by age group and competition levels for both head coaches and assistant coaches. The various levels, ranked 1 through 4, (with 1 being the highest), incorporate USSF licenses and NSCAA diplomas as well as high school and collegiate coaching experience. It should be noted that a coach's playing experience, regardless of the level, does not count toward a particular level of license.
The bylaw progressively increases the licensing level that must be obtained to remain registered as a coach within M.O.S.S.L., giving coaches ample opportunity to advance to the next level. Recognizing that potential problems could temporarily limit the ability of a coach to receive the required level of license in a timely fashion, M.O.S.S.L. also authorized its Vice President of Competition permission to grant 6-month waivers of the licensing requirements on a case-by-case basis.
To provide its coaches with opportunities to obtain the needed licenses, M.O.S.S.L., through its 36 member leagues, ensure that a variety of USSF "F", "E" and "D" clinics, as well as NSCAA State, Regional and National Youth diploma courses are offered in the central Ohio area. Coaches with substantial playing and/or coaching experience, but without a license, may apply to Mr. Roby Stahl, the Ohio South Youth Soccer Association Director of Coaching, for a waiver of the requirement to have a USSF "F" or "E" license before attending a USSF "E" or "D" course, respectively. This waiver does not grant a license at the "E" or "D" level; it only allows a coach to attend an "E" or "D" course without first obtaining the lower level license.
One of the concerns that was expressed as the bylaw was being considered, was that many coaches, in particular volunteer parent coaches, would quit coaching rather than pay for and sit through a 9, 20, or 36 hour licensing course. To date, this does not seem to be the case. With the state association absorbing much of the cost of the "F" license, the perceived "drop out" of coaches never materialized. In addition, one or more of the following reasons may also have affected minimal drop out of coaches;
a) Although almost all of the paid coaches and trainers within M.O.S.S.L. (approximately 50% of all M.O.S.S.L. coaches are paid) already held advanced licenses (up to and including USSF "A" and NSCAA Advanced National Diplomas), a substantial portion of the remaining coaches (volunteers), had already received licenses prior to the implementation of the new requirements.
b) Only head coaches were required to obtain a USSF "F" license, or higher, during the first year. It was not until the second year, August 2001, that assistant coaches were also required to obtain at least a USSF "F" license and head coaches in the top competitive division in the U-13 and older age group must obtain at least a USSF "E" license or its equivalent. During the third year of the process, starting August 2002, all head coaches in the U-11 and older age groups must obtain at least a USSF " E" license or its equivalent and head coaches in the top competitive division of U-15 and older division must obtain at least a USSF "D" license or its equivalent.
c) Bylaw 11.0 was adopted in January 1999, but the effective date was not until August 2000. This 20-month implementation period gave coaches plenty of time to start the licensing process.
d) This measured process, once it started, was stretched out over 3 years, allowing all coaches a reasonable opportunity to obtain the level of license required under the new bylaw.
To ensure that the requirements of the bylaw are met, M.O.S.S.L. established a database of all of its coaches. A printout of this data is then checked prior to the issuance of a coach's pass for the seasonal year.
The requirements that were established are all encompassing and affect all teams equally. Girls and boys teams, club teams with paid coaches, league teams being served by "volunteer" coaches, must all meet the same requirements.
As M.O.S.S.L. looks forward, it is believed that the current licensing requirements will remain unchanged for the present. There are no charts or statistics which can give a definitive answer to the question of the effectiveness of the mandatory coach licensing requirements as implemented by M.O.S.S.L. However, M.O.S.S.L. believes that by requiring basics training and certification of its coaches, there can only be positive results and continued improvement in the development of youth soccer.