Using Technology to Improve Service

By Don Rawson, Mass Youth Soccer Executive Director

Mass Youth Soccer now has over 175,000 registered players, plus more than 25,000 registered adult coaches, managers and administrators. There are over 6,000 referees serving the Mass Youth Soccer membership who are licensed and registered with U.S. Soccer. There are many more thousands of adults who are serving in one or more capacities with the teams, towns, clubs, leagues, tournaments and associations involved in youth soccer throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Mass Youth Soccer Board of Directors continues to review and make changes as necessary to ensure that the youth soccer environment in Massachusetts is fun, healthy, safe and fair. The Board of Directors is supported by committees and Program Managers working on behalf of the Board and the membership. The Board of Directors has also tasked most of the day-to-day management and oversight of programs, events and services to the state office staff. The staff is constantly looking for ways to improve our ability to "manage" the game off the field. The continued use of technology is an important element used to "simplify" our lives.

I am using this space to update you all on the ways that technology has and will be used to improve our ability to provide better service to the Mass Youth Soccer membership.

1. Communications — The goal is to provide timely and accurate information to the membership! The web site will serve as a primary source of information. The web site will be updated almost DAILY. A new dynamic web site will be forthcoming around June 2010; this site will have many of the advanced "bells and whistles" needed to provide the type of communications platforms a best-in-web site has to offer.

Electronic mail will be extremely useful in providing a faster and better means of communicating. One of our objectives is to use the registration process to obtain email addresses for all adults to improve our ability to communicate. Other means of communications, such as net meetings, on-line chats, video streaming and the use of social networks will be an important part of several programs, meetings, services and events.

2. Coaching Education — The broad goal is to improve the understanding and abilities of adults who are coaching. The emphasis will be primarily on the recreation level coach. With the on-line G course, Mass Youth Soccer has already made a significant commitment using technology to improve the education of adults who coach young children in the sport of soccer. Over time, Mass Youth Soccer will increase the use of video streaming technology to view course materials on the Internet. The use of web-based technology for educational purposes is perhaps the greatest service Mass Youth Soccer can provide to its membership. The use of electronic mail and the Mass Youth Soccer web site to communicate instructional courses will also increase significantly.

3. Registration — The goal is to work with all towns, clubs and leagues to ensure registration is handled as smoothly as possible. Mass Youth Soccer is completing due diligence and a decision (TBD no later than 2/13/10) on which company will provide the state office software package to improve the ability to manage the Mass Youth Soccer registration process. The new technology will also provide for on-line registration for ODP, Coaching Education Instructional courses, State Cup, MTOC, CORI and National Criminal background checks and accept reservations to use the Citizens Bank Fields.

4. Meetings — The goal is to be more inclusive, to improve learning, understanding and the decision-making process. The staff is looking at technologies that can provide real-time viewing of meetings and events via the Mass Youth Soccer web site. This technology can also capture video to be stored on the web site for later use. The use of this type of technology could allow the membership to participate in and/or observe the Mass Youth Soccer Annual General Meeting, the State Cup Draw, ODP Training, State Cup games, Coaching Education courses, coaching seminars, workshops, and more.

5. Office Equipment — The goal is to buy/ lease appropriate office technologies that offer improved service to the membership. The office now has a multi-use copier that can offer the office staff, as well as and member leagues and clubs, an opportunity to complete numerous projects (if interested in finding out more, please contact Kate at kmurphy@mayouthsoccer.org). The staff is reviewing buy/ lease options for postage, sorting and folding machines.

The Mass Youth Soccer state office understands that our work must provide for the entire membership — ALL the leagues, clubs, coaches, players, administrators, referees and parents. As Executive Director, I am determined to ensure that the state office uses advanced technologies to serve you better, and we look forward to meeting and exceeding the expectations that you have for YOUR organization!

I look forward to hearing your comments and concerns and have a dialogue about the short-term and longer-term plans for Mass Youth soccer, to help ensure that Mass Youth Soccer serves the needs of the ENTIRE membership.