By AIDAN KELLY
> SOUTHERN INDIANA — If you happen to see the young players of the Clark County Soccer Association in action this spring, don’t be surprised if their style reminds you of a certain Manchester United.
It’s all changed off the field at CCSA this year, where there is now a new president in the shape of Paul Duckworth.
The recreational youth soccer club also has a new treasurer, a field engineer, a registrar, a concession manager, a webmaster and a uniforms commissioner.
And there’s also set to be change on it.
Duckworth is in the process of introducing the coaching approach of Rene Meulensteen to CCSA.
The name may not ring too many bells with a whole lot of local people, but Dutchman Meulensteen has been the first team coach for Premier League giants United since 2008.
If you ever look at the Red Devils’ bench, he’s the one usually sitting to the left of manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now, CCSA is set to introduce his academy after Duckworth, a native of the west Yorkshire town of Huddersfield in England, was suitably impressed with Meulensteen’s approach when taking his coaching course two years ago.
In fact, Duckworth uses his methodology with Southern Indiana United U15 Strikers, a team he currently coaches on top of his CCSA duties.
“Meulensteen’s basic philosophy is that the player that can beat someone one-on-one can make a dynamic difference to the game,” he said. “Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney are examples of such players.”
Indiana Soccer also is planning to introduce the approach to other clubs in the state, and will be hosting a three-hour training session at its annual convention in Carmel this Saturday.
“We are encouraging all of our coaches to attend and we will then work with them to help bring this style of coaching to CCSA,” said Duckworth.
The spring season caters for players from ages 3-18, and the club also will be introducing the academy approach to coaching the U6 players.
“Rather than assigning these players to a particular team and coach, the whole group gathers together and the players get assigned to different stations,” he explained. “A coach is assigned to the station and works with the kids on a particular activity. The kids rotate through the stations, so they get exposed to all the coaches and lots of different activities.
“The whole process is overseen by experienced coaches, so we not only train the kids, but also the coaches. It also ensures that all the kids get a good, well-rounded training curriculum, rather than some of them getting an experienced coach, and others getting a new coach.”
This summer, the club will host one of the 3v3 Live national soccer tournaments. The fast-paced, fun, skill-building games are played on small fields (40 by 30 yards) with no goalies. As the name suggests, the games are three against three, and squads are made up of five or six players.
“Having played in these tournaments locally and regionally, and seeing how much fun the kids have, while providing a competitive environment, we decided to work with the 3v3 Live group and secured the tournament at CCSA for 2011 and beyond,” said Duckworth.
The club also is hoping to improve facilities and add new pitches at its Woehrle Fields base.
“We have been working over the winter clearing some of our unused areas, and working on draining on the fields,” Duckworth said. “We finally have a new U15 field, which will allow us to rotate the fields, and let us renovate one each season without it being played on.”
Bathrooms have been upgraded, while there is new seating for players.
“We would love to get more dirt brought in, and we are working with the city to try and get some dirt from the Vissing Park project,” Duckworth said.
The new spring season will start on Saturday, April 7 and runs through Sunday, May 20, with most games played on Saturdays. Registration to play is open until Monday, March 5, and you can sign up online at www.clarkcountysoccer.com.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Youth Soccer annual awards dinner is being held in Carmel this Saturday, and Duckworth has been selected as a finalist in the Mike Berticelli Boys’ Travel Coach of the Year category.
He told “Kick It” he is “humbled and excited” to be considered for the award.
“Many of my team, players and parents are planning to attend,” he said. “They are the ones that submitted my name to the selection panel, and I am honored that they believe in me that much.”
Contact Aidan Kelly at email@example.com.