If you are going to write about a class of some sort, then the best thing to do to get the proper perspective is to sit though the course.
Such was the case when I decided to write about the Ballistic United Soccer Club Leadership Academy. Run by Brady Taylor, the Director of Coaching for the BUSC Competitive program, the classes are all about nurturing the leadership skills of players within the club.
“We recognize that the kids in our club are the next generation of leaders in their communities,” said Taylor. “The investment in these young leaders is rooted in us as a club holding to our vision and mission to develop young men through the beautiful game of soccer.”
The sessions are open to players that have been nominated by their coaches U-12 through U-15 Ballistic competitive teams.
Potential leadership capabilities can be detected through observation and that’s what brings players to Taylor’s classes. Coaches select the kids to attend the workshops in hopes the players can be nurtured to be leaders for the respective teams, and in life as they grow older.
I’ve always felt that not everyone can fill a leadership role as it isn’t a guaranteed trait in life. There are people that try to fill the role, but being a leader comes with respect, and that is vital for any player to be a leader.
You must have the respect of your teammates before they will look to you as a leader. A person that tries to lead without the respect of his teammates speaks empty words.
After sitting through one of Taylor’s classes it is the perfect vehicle to see if a player has the capabilities to lead.
Some of the traits of a leader discussed by Taylor are honesty, helpful, communicative, loyal, kind, selfless, leading by example, listener, and motivator.
You don’t need to possess all the traits, but any combination can work, with one caveat.
“You have to lead how you are,” explained Taylor to the group. “A leader is someone who chooses to act out different leadership traits in the difficult moments, not just the easy ones.”
The players were given a task to come up with what would be an example of a difficult moment. They worked in small groups and then show the other groups their example.
While you can develop your soccer skills at practice, the Academy allows for practice to develop leaderships skills, making games or practices not the first time they face a difficult time.
The group also learns from videos from soccer icons around the world.
The first week was with Carles Puyol, the former Spanish international defender, largely regarded as one of the great leaders in soccer.
When I sat in, it was an interview with Jurgen Klopp, the former German player that is now the manager of Liverpool in the English Premier League. Klopp is celebrated around the world-wide soccer community as one of the best leaders.
Klopp spoke about his leadership style and how he interacts with the players. It was fascinating to hear his message, but also see the attention of the players in the room to the video.
As I watched the players throughout the room, I could feel them taking in every word not just staring at the screen.
It is a fantastic class, showing kids how to be leaders before they hit high school.