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The Youth Soccer Development Landscape in Europe vs. America: How the U.S. Can Improve Men's Soccer

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Why is it that soccer, the world's most popular sport for almost a century, has yet to become established in the world's most ethnically diverse nation? This question is especially

Why is it that soccer, the world's most popular sport for almost a century, has yet to become established in the world's most ethnically diverse nation? This question is especially relevant today given the recent U.S. Men's National Team (ranked 28th in the world) loss to the lowly Trinidad & Tobago (ranked 99th), thus failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986. This represents a huge disappointment for the USMNT since they compete in CONCACAF, arguably the easiest region to succeed. The Icelandic National Team, on the other hand, recently secured their World Cup spot despite having a population of 330,000 and competing in UEFA, which is debatably the hardest region to qualify. This disastrous shortcoming by the USMNT represents the fact that the American system is flawed, and I painstakingly wanted to know why. I reasoned that good teams are made up of good players; good players must stem from a good foundation, which leads to my topic. Because the soccer development landscape differs across continents, this thesis contains a macro-level analysis of the youth models in Europe vs. America and explains how the U.S. can improve. Elite European bodies tend to be more established organizationally, have an abundance of resources, and is surrounded by a culture that praises the sport. While soccer in America is relatively new, often lacks proper resources, and competes in a society that favors multiple other sports. This thesis will elaborate on these differences through the example of the FC Barcelona Youth Academy representing Europe, paralleled to what many consider the best American program: FC Dallas Academy. An assessment will also be included regarding the Icelandic model of player development due to the recent success of their National Teams. Through this smaller comparison representing the larger issue, I will address the opportunity in this moment and how the U.S. can improve. This report will also focus on the men's game because the incredible success of American women at soccer is a very different story that warrants a whole other project. I gathered a majority of my project findings through the use of various books, online resources, academic journals, and data reports. This research has led to the conclusion that there are many factors that determine whether a group is successful at soccer. In the short term, American players should compete abroad if possible in order to train among the world's best. But in an effort to improve at a grassroots level, the United States should focus on providing the basic necessities, promoting an effective sophistication of soccer, and addressing issues that stem from pay-to-play. All of these subjects will be discussed at great lengths below.

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  • 2017-12

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They just don't understand that's the way most of us are: identity management of Latin@ youth en [ie. in] Arizona

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This ethnographic study contributes to the literature on Latin@ youth in the US by focusing on the experiences of Latin@ youth in Arizona and their identity management practices. The data

This ethnographic study contributes to the literature on Latin@ youth in the US by focusing on the experiences of Latin@ youth in Arizona and their identity management practices. The data from 9 months of field observations and 11 unstructured interviews provides a vivid picture of the youth's daily encounters. Using a thematic analysis this study reveals the youth's experiences in occupying predominantly white spaces, managing privilege, and managing negative stereotypes. The youth's involvement at El Centro, an Arizona nonprofit organization, provided them a safe space in which they created a familial environment for themselves and their peers.

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  • 2014