Till very recently, U.S.-based soccer coaches were blessed with two well-recognized homegrown certification tracks: US Soccer’s licensing and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s diploma path. Both provided excellent educational opportunities for coaches, and even allowed for approximate equivalency processes that allowed them, in essence, to be interchangeable. It wasn’t uncommon to see coaches use an earned designation as a prerequisite to attain one from the other.
Then, in 2014, USSF changed its track a bit. Now, coaches looking to get USSF licensure cannot waiver into higher coaches (there are exemptions); they must start with the entry-level USSF “F” License, and it is no longer possible to waiver in with NSCAA courses. This all but makes the FIFA-affiliated US Soccer the de facto source for trainer licensing in the U.S.
In practice, that means a coach who might have an opportunity to take an NSCAA course because, say, there isn’t a USSF course nearby might think twice about investing in said NSCAA course, especially if he/she determines that his/her soccer path requires eventual USSF licensure.
Darn, darn, darn.
So, the question has been asked: why invest in an NSCAA course?
As one who has received education from both sources, it’s an interesting time. See, I get what US Soccer is doing. Streamlining the process makes sense, and while I am/was quite disappointed with the NSCAA decoupling, I think it is a move it had to make, especially if it wants its badges to be as prestigious as, say, UEFA ones.
For it’s part, the NSCAA acted appropriately, I believe. It was fairly open about the new developments, allowing its membership to become aware of the process, and reaffirmed its mission to continue to educate coaches.
At the end of the day, the NSCAA is the biggest professional group for Stateside practitioners of the world’s most popular sport, and one cannot put a price tag on that. It’s curriculum continues to evolve, and, in my opinion, offers several complementary courses to US Soccer’s classes. Taking an NSCAA class also invariably includes a membership, and the extras — discounts, free insurance, etc — are great to have as well.
One important role the NSCAA has taken is providing educational tracks that teach management. The Director of Coaching course, for instance, provides and opportunity for administrators to listen to professionals in an effort to become better soccer ambassadors. The goalkeeping track is fantastic, too.
I think there is still a place for the NSCAA. Scratch that… there is even a bigger role for it to fill. Soccer coaches (and the kids they coach) benefit from professional variety.