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Sep, 2023

NJ Youth Soccer and WAGS Team Up for Summer Initiatives

Meredith Waropay, NJ Youth Soccer

Over the summer, New Jersey Youth Soccer teamed up with Women and Girls Soccer (WAGS) to host a variety of programming as part of the NJYS Growing the Girls Game (G3) Initiative. These special offerings included All-Female 11v11 and 9v9 U.S. Soccer Grassroots Coaching License Courses, an All-Female U.S. Soccer Grassroots Referee Course and an All-Female NJYS State Certificate Coaching Course.

Sponsored by WAGS, The All-Female 11v11 and 9v9 Grassroots Coaching License Courses were hosted this past July in Tinton Falls. Participants first completed an online Intro to Grassroots Coaching Course before taking part in a four-hour field session. Candidates, upon successful completion, became eligible for full reimbursement of their entire course cost.

“As a leader in empowering and supporting the educational path of female coaches, WAGS is honored to sponsor these All-Female Courses,” said Kerry Diederich, WAGS Executive Director. “Our mission is to impact and elevate females in the game, our partnership with NJYS and their support of our goals is invaluable to offering these valuable opportunities.  

Heather Pedersen traveled from Virginia to work as the lead instructor for the in-person portion of these courses, built on the principles covered in U.S. Soccer’s Introduction to Grassroots Coaching Module. Specifically, coaches learned more about U.S. Soccer’s Grassroots Coaching Education Philosophy, Play-Practice-Play Methodology, the Six Tasks of a Coach and the characteristics of players (age appropriate). The courses also asked each coach to reflect on their experiences to develop action steps for personal growth in the Six Tasks (Coaching Games, Coaching Training Sessions, Leading the Team, Leading the Player, Managing the Performance Environment and Leadership).

“I thought it created a great environment for our women and our female coaches coming out, where they feel like they can collaborate with other women and really build networks and connections,” Pederson reflected.

More than a dozen youth players were invited to take advantage of and learn from a training session led by the instructors and candidates. 

“The drills were very good because the coaches stopped from time to time to see where we could improve,” said Leah Dodds, who is a player for the 16U Plainfield NPSE Knights.

Following the All-Female Grassroots Coaching License Courses, NJ Youth Soccer and the NJ State Referee Committee partnered with WAGS to host an All-Female Grassroots Referee Course in Tinton Falls. First-time referee candidates went through a hybrid of online and in-person education to receive their certification. Participants began the program by completing online assignments in the US Soccer Digital Learning Center, which included an online Grassroots Referee Course. Candidates then attended a seven-hour classroom session and three-hour field session.

“I am thankful for WAGS sponsoring this course because I could see a new perspective of the field from the point of view of referees,” said a youth player from Next Level Soccer Academy who participated in the referee course. “I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to get another point of view besides just the player perspective. I am glad to have had another chance to be on the field besides just playing.”

After receiving their certification, candidates are now eligible to accept assignments for local travel soccer competitions and tournaments, local recreational leagues and affiliated in-house programs. After successfully completing the certification process, participants also received full reimbursement of course fees from WAGS.

“I am very thankful for WAGS’ sponsorship of this course because it gives us players a different view of the field,” said Brielle Von Collin, who is a player for SJEB FC. “There has also been a referee shortage, so it brings me joy to be able to help kids have the same opportunities to play like I had before.”

Instructors of this all-female referee course were also positively impacted by the experience of attending and participating in it. 

“It is great that WAGS sponsored this All-Female Course because it was truly amazing to see 24 young ladies showing an interest in refereeing,” said Catie Koenig, who was one of the course instructors. “I remember my first referee course about 10 years ago. There were just two females, my friend and I, out of about 50 other people, and it was definitely a bit intimidating when you are 14 years old. I truly enjoyed instructing this course, and hopefully I was able to inspire and show these young ladies that if you are truly passionate about something and put your mind to it, you can go places, and your hard work will not go unnoticed.”

Most recently, this summer series concluded with a NJYS State Coaching Certificate in mid-August. Held as part of the NJYS Growing the Girls Game (G3) Initiative, this course was free to women candidates and proudly supported by WAGS.

The NJYS State Certificate Course examines safety considerations, emergency planning, injury care and prevention and significant coaching responsibilities of the coach responsible for players within travel programs. An introduction is provided to foster understanding of player-centered and developmentally appropriate coaching for those engaged within the long-term player development process.

NJ Youth Soccer is proud to have collaborated with WAGS for these three courses, which further strengthens the impact of the NJYS Growing the Girls Game (G3) Initiative. This groundbreaking partnership continues to provide exclusive opportunities for female coaches and referees while empowering women in the sport. NJ Youth Soccer is honored of its partnership with WAGS and aims to continue providing as many opportunities as possible to female coaches and referees throughout the state and beyond.

Formerly a regional soccer league for girls in the Metro DC area, Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS) has since restructured as a charitable organization that focuses on the empowerment of girls and women through soccer. The mission of WAGS is to sponsor, develop or provide educational and character-building programs for the benefit of girls and women through teaching and promoting an interest in the game of soccer.

To find out more information about New Jersey Youth Soccer or to contact us directly, please email [email protected]. Also make sure to follow us on social media: @NJYouthSoccer

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New Jersey Youth Soccer

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Freehold, New Jersey 07728

Phone: 609-490-0725
Email: [email protected]

New Jersey Youth Soccer

3 Paragon Way, Suite 400
Freehold, New Jersey 07728

Phone: 609-490-0725
Email: [email protected]
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