The second Aaron Cline scheduled a friendly scrimmage on June 14 to prepare his Cajun Soccer Club Rage 01 under-13 girls squad for the upcoming US Youth Soccer Region III Championships, he heard grumbles from several of his players.
His girls weren’t complaining about missing their favorite television drama or having to put down their phones for a few hours.
They wanted to watch the World Cup matchup between Italy and England, a game Italy won 2-1 on a header from striker Mario Balotelli.
Cline noticed their piqued interest, and he and a plethora of other youth soccer coaches have turned it into an advantage.
“The game is recorded, and we’d play back certain moments and certain things we may have worked on in the past to drive home ideas and tactical concepts,” Cline said.
Millions of fans scattered around the globe tune in every day during the World Cup to root for their home nations.
But each contest also provides an abundance of game film that any coach can put to use from his or her own living room.
While training to become a coach, the majority of the footage used to display certain tactics and styles came from the World Cup, said Willie Davis, the Baton Rouge Soccer Club CSC 96 Alliance under-18 girls coach.
Now, whenever Davis gets the chance to sit down and take in the World Cup games, he views them as both a fan and an analyst.
Davis has recently tuned into the World Cup with his wife, though he admitted he’s the only one who gets excited about the minute details of the games.
“(You pick up) the little nuances you might miss if you’re just sitting there and hanging out with a buddy and watching it,” Davis said. “There’s always something you can learn from it, it’s just a matter of how you go about it.”
Brett Malone, the under-14 boys BRSC 00 Black coach, said he regularly brings up the World Cup games from the previous day during practice.
“We talk about everything,” Malone said. “It’s great because we can actually talk about things that we saw in the game. It’s probably the best teaching tool you can ask for. You get to see the best do the best, and it makes the kids want to play harder.”
The 00 Black’s manager, Christopher Fetters, said the worldwide event is something any coach or parent can use as a conversation tool during warm-ups before practice.
Other than learning about fundamentals or strategy, though, the World Cup can be used to teach more valuable lessons about the sport itself.
“This is the time where the (World Cup) players aren’t paid to play,” Fetters said. “These guys are going out there to play because they want to, not because they have to.”
With squads venturing to Baton Rouge from all over the South, the BREC Burbank Soccer Complex almost has a similar feel to the global phenomenon currently taking place throughout Brazil.
Several coaches are emphasizing the idea of proudly representing their home states, including under-19 boys BRSC CSC Alliance 95 coach Jonathan Brunet.
“Kids are playing the game because they love it,” Brunet said. “You want them to represent where they’re from, and we kind of stress that to them. You are representing your community here.”