To Our MDSA Elite Families,
As our 21-22 season wraps up this month, the Elite Committee would like to thank you for being a part of our uniquely special program.
We are all sad to see the end of the Elite Program as we know it, and I want to extend a special thank you to our volunteers who put in countless hours behind the scenes in the administration of our teams and programs. It is by no means an easy task, and managing this with our own families, jobs and even a global pandemic is a task some say we are crazy to take on.
We know next year looks very different, which can seem scary. It has required a leap of faith from all involved. As we have said before, the structure of US youth soccer is constantly evolving and we need to adapt along with it. The Cal North program in which we have participated for many years, has seen the number of enrolled clubs decline dramatically (up to 40% decline year on year over several seasons, even pre-pandemic). We took on board the feedback from many Elite families regarding the travel requirements and standards of play being below our expectations. Following much analysis and discussion, we concluded that both short-term and long-term, Cal North would not be able to offer a viable competitive environment for MDSA Elite teams. Frankly, we felt the program would not continue or offer value as it stood.
The other option for us would be the NorCal program; this comes with geographical restrictions to entry that we could not overcome alone. Through discussions with our neighboring clubs to find a way to enable our entry, all the organizations believed that we could be stronger together: MDSA would have entry to a sustainable competition; AYSO United East Bay would have access to higher competition opportunities; Diablo Valley Wolves would have access to a larger player pool. Together, we have the opportunity to create more teams at the right levels for each player’s development, and access to fields across our region.
Our priority was ensuring that players on the equivalent of MDSA Elite teams (DVFC United) would not be paying anything close to the average “Club” cost for the area; this was secured. Secondly, a guarantee of AYSO principles including roster size, playing time and player development was enshrined; players on DVFC United teams will still be wearing the AYSO Badge along with all that brings with it. Diablo Valley Futbol Club’s administration is led by AYSO employees and veterans with decades of service to AYSO. 4 MDSA Board Members will participate in the running of the affiliated body, as ADOCs and Advisory Board Members.
We know change is hard, especially for the players who rightly don’t comprehend what it takes behind the scenes to get these teams out on the field; each of us on the Committee also have children in this program adapting to the changes. With affiliations and bringing together different entities comes compromise. These compromises mean we can still offer affordable competitive soccer, adhere to our values, and we gain participation in a range of competitions with appropriate opponents that will be sustainable. We lost some of our flexibility in team building to ensure there was parity between players coming from each of the three entities and conformity to US Soccer guidelines. Children are never a number or commodity – our volunteers would never put in the work they do otherwise. Continuing the ethos of our program – while having to make some compromises to enable this to work on such a large scale – is absolutely paramount.
Players across the East Bay area have registered for tryouts in numbers beyond our expectations. Forming teams in a new structure has posed some unexpected challenges; we are all learning from the experience and finding our feet to ensure a smoother process in the future. Many of us put our real-life demands on hold during this tryout and team formation window to represent our MDSA players and volunteers. It is by no means a simple process with 1,600 children and a brand new structure. We have endeavored to be as transparent as possible with the information we have, but coming into the tryout window, much was still in flux and no certain answers could be given until the evaluators saw the players to know what depth and breadth of talent was there. I am sorry we were unable to be more supportive with more information as this developed; going forward as we have found our feet, this will not happen again.
In my ideal world, these changes would not have been necessary. The Elite Committee are immensely proud of what our little club has achieved over the years, and were it not for the changing youth soccer environment around us, we would have loved to continue forever. I can only speak for my own family when I say the experience and memories of our time with MDSA Elite will always be treasured; the bonds formed will last forever. I know many of you are aware of the health challenges I have experienced in the last year, and having this community support our family was incredibly uplifting and so greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing these relationships continue to grow as we move on to the next exciting opportunity for our MDSA Families.
Again, on the behalf of the Elite Committee, thank you for being a part of our family at MDSA Elite. Joe, Ryan, Eric and myself will continue to work on your behalf to honor the commitment to our values as we become part of DVFC for the future of our competitive program.