The issue of whether score should be kept in youth soccer leagues in Alberta is set to be examined after the Ontario Soccer Association recently implemented a no-score policy for its youth leagues, with several other provinces considering it as well.

The Ontario Soccer Association will no longer keep scores and standings for its leagues involving children under the age of 12.

The goal is to focus on player development rather than wins and losses.

It’s a move the Alberta Soccer Association had considered a few years ago, but at the time, parents and coaches weren't on board.

“It didn’t go over well,” said Shaun Lowther with the Alberta Soccer Association.

“Clubs and districts were a bit upset about it.”

Now Lowther says it’s a policy that should be re-considered.

“We have to look at it,” he said.

“CSA (Canadian Soccer Association) has said that’s the way they want the game played in this country. They spend a lot of money trying to develop this long-term player development so we will look at it.”

Julia Ignacio is a former national team member, and supports the idea of a scoreless game for young players.

Ignacio sees the benefits of a no-score policy.

“I think it could be a good way for young players, especially at that age, to improve in their technique rather than get caught up in all the wins and the losses,” she said.

“I think it’s better for the development of the players by eliminating that level of competition.”

Ignacio says looking back, she only wanted to play, she wasn’t focused on the competition aspect.

'At that age, those kids just need to play'

She believes keeping scores and standings is more important for coaches and parents at that younger age.

Edmonton soccer coach Ross Ongaro says at that age, eliminating scores would take some pressure off.

“It would actually bring back a passion for the game, not just practice, practice, practice, and that’s all they’re doing,” Ongaro said.

“The biggest problem with completive under 12 is you're forcing coaches to try to win. And at that age those kids just need to play.”

Lowther says B.C. is beginning to adopt a no-score policy as well, and young Saskatchewan players have already been playing without scores.

“I know it’s not just soccer, it’s other sports as well, hockey, they’ve been looking at that,” Lowther said.

“And it’s not just in Canada that this occurs. In some of the best soccer nations in the world, Spain for instance, who are world champions, they don’t have scores until they’re up to U14, U15, U 16. It’s nothing new."

Lowther adds that players involved would know the score – a no-score policy would just ensure emphasis is taken off winning.

“It’s a myth that it’s no scores. The kids know what the score is, the coaches know what the score is, its just trying to de-emphasize winning over player development,” he said.

With files from Amanda Anderson

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