Leadership Through Diversity – Training Our Soccer Leaders
The Cal South Leadership Academy — Inspiring accomplished individuals to become motivating leaders in their organizations and communities. Leaders in youth soccer share a passion for the game and not a background in business. The Cal South Leadership Academy offers a soccer-specific leadership program that makes a difference.
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein
Cal South is dedicated to making a difference in the landscape of youth soccer.
The leaders at Cal South understand there is more to growing the beautiful game than winning on the field. While victory on the pitch is important, developing leaders who can grow the game is also essential to the enduring success of soccer in the USA.
Focused on meeting the needs of Cal South’s members now and in the future, Cal South’s President Derek Barraza has often asked, “Who is training our future leaders?” The lack of a clear and vibrant answer, along with Barraza’s work on the U.S. Soccer Diversity Committee, led to a simple solution — the Cal South Leadership Academy.
“To be an effective leader, you always need to keep learning,” said Barraza. “I believe it is important that Cal South help train the leaders of tomorrow today. Teaching leadership skills is critical to the growth of the game we all love. And, helping people understand diversity and the process of inclusion helps our Cal South members better serve their organizations.”
Related Article: CAL SOUTH GROUND BREAKING LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Cal South Leadership Academy was held on June 5-7 in Del Mar, (San Diego area) California and on August 29-20 in Burbank, California. The Academy is designed to give Cal South’s exceptional leaders the kind of leadership tools and best practices to succeed in all facets of organizational and community leadership.
The 2104 U.S. Census Bureau reports that “The populations of California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and New Mexico are majority minority,” meaning over 50% of the population is a “minority” and that people of color will comprise 49.9% of the population in the U.S. by 2050.
Youth soccer players reflect the beautiful diversity of America and its rich cultural heritage. Embracing diversity is a requirement for longevity and success in the world of youth soccer, especially in Southern California – a hot bed of hispanic talent.
What does diversity mean? Diversity encompasses all the characteristics that make one individual or a group unique and different from one another.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate in a group or a team.
While diversity always exists, inclusion must be created – and this leadership program asks the question – are we good at accomplishing this?
Sondra Thiederman, author of The Diversity and Inclusion Handbook, said, “Diversity is not an imposition it’s an advantage. Inclusion is not a problem it’s a solution. Working together is more than a good idea it’s essential to individual and organizational success.”
From denial of diversity to the adaptation and integration of inclusion, this program searches for the truths on and off the field and helps open peoples minds to what leaders need to know.
Emilio Pozzi, who has over 24 years experience in the soccer arena working with U.S. Soccer, Soccer United Marketing, CONCACAF and FIFA, developed the program for Cal South and also presents several sessions. As the former Director of Events for US Soccer from 1996 to 2001, Pozzi has also worked on the Olympics and Para-Olympics and knows that growing the game of soccer in the USA requires our leaders to appreciate diversity and possess the business skills to let their associations and clubs thrive.
“Leadership skills are needed for success at every level of the soccer world,” said Pozzi. “Providing the leaders with the tools they need is important for the growth of the game. It is great that Cal South has taken a leadership position in serving their members and offering this program. The Leadership Academy helps their members become better leaders in their communities, especially those working with the disadvantaged and under-served areas where there can be greater challenges.”
“Cal South is a success story. The stories of the great accomplishments of our members; the passionate volunteers and highly trained coaches, the national championship victories earned by the sweat and talent of our amazing players — we are just adding leadership training to compliment what our members have already achieved. We want to help the next generation of leaders bring soccer to even greater heights,” add Barraza.
“I enjoyed the Cal South Leadership Academy. For me, being a director of a youth soccer club and working on growing the club, it is important for me to have this vital information. There is a constant debate raging in America on how to grow the game, and these sessions were very valuable,” said David Benoit, FC Golden State. “It was a huge eye-opener. The insights into sponsorships, building relationships within the local communities and government offices were really great. Overall, it was time well spent and enriching. Thank you Cal South.”
“I would highly recommend that all current leaders and those interested in becoming more efficient and educated in leadership attend,” said Carrie Taylor, Laguna United FC. “I was able to glean insights into becoming a better negotiator as well as engage in thought provoking discussions on issues within our game. It is well worth the time. The information is extremely valuable.”
“I enjoyed the course immensely. I thought the material was rich and empowering,” said Djibril Coulibaly, Coastal Valley Soccer Club (CVSC). “The delivery was very enjoyable; the presenters were engaging and knowledgeable. The biggest takeaway for me actually came in the introduction of the course, by Cal South President, Mr. Derek Barraza. Derek shared that the course stemmed from Cal South pondering the question “Who is training our future leaders?” The latter grabbed my attention because I feel this is in fact the larger goal of what we do in youth sports. Every time we interact with the boys and girls we either coach, or mentor in some other way, we are in effect contributing to shaping their character. So all of us involved with youth sports are in the business of training our future leaders. The Cal South Leadership Academy has helped remind me that I needed to be more aware and perhaps more intentional about it.”
The mission statement for the program is simple:
To create incredible leaders who dream big for their organization, to enable it to achieve its goals through top leadership practices and team building, while recognizing and reaping the advantages and opportunities availed by the diversity of our organizations.
Among the speakers at this Cal South Leadership Academy:
Bryan Chenault, For the last 10 years, this veteran of almost 20 years in soccer, has consulted for Soccer United Marketing, CONCACAF and FIFA, including a role as a Venue Media Officer for the last three World Cups.
Reverend Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton, an Episcopal Pastor who has developed many leadership and diversity programs, kicked off the Leadership Academy with a compelling talk on Diversity and Inclusion.
Theresa Elkins, Founder and CEO of All Direct Mail Services in Southern California, with 30 years of experience in advertising, direct mail/manufacturing.
Shannon MacMillan, Director of Operations at Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks, Herman Trophy Winner, Olympic Gold Medalist, Women’s World Cup Soccer Star, U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year and Cal South Hall of Fame inductee spoke on Building SMART Teams.
Joseph F. Mailander, author of 300 columns of cultural criticism, opinion journalism, and political analysis spoke on Government and Community Outreach.
Mark Zeigler, an award winning sportswriter for the San Diego Union Tribune who is an avid soccer fan who has covered many FIFA World Cups spoke on Organizational Change Management.
Yuki Zeigler, a sports marketing consultant who has worked numerous international soccer events, including the Women’s World Cup this summer in Canada and most recently the CONCACAF Gold Cup in various cites across the United States.
The attendees of the Cal South Leadership Academy included top Directors of Coaching and Presidents of prestigious area youth soccer clubs as well as a few young coaches including: AC Brea, Albion OC, Anaheim SC Express, Antelope Valley FC, Apple Valley SC, Atletico Southern California, Boca Juniors LA, Burbank City Block, Central Coast Condors, Coast Soccer League, Coastal Valley SC, Cypress FC, Coerver Soccer, Diamond Bar Soccer League, Eagle SC, FC Golden State, Fullerton Rangers, Fusion, Futbol Academy, Hesperia Misioneros, Hillcrest High School, Inland Empire Surf SC, Laguna United FC, LA Premier FC, Legacy FC, MSA FC, Olimpus FC, Oxnard Athletic Club, Oxnard Youth Premier Soccer League, Sand and Surf Soccer Club, Santa Ana FC, Simi Valley Youth Soccer League, Sol Soccer Club, US Youth Soccer Region II.
“I have been very impressed with the high caliber attendance, feedback and compliments. We have received great encouragement from top Directors of Coaching and youth soccer club Presidents,” said Barraza. “We are pioneers – leading all the US Youth Soccer states on this important initiative and this is something we can all be very proud of.”