Academy Player Profile Player Profile – Miles Bransford #61, 2006B Premier Continued Many will say that IAFC simply got it wrong the first couple tryouts when evaluating Miles. I’ll be the first to admit that it is difficult to rate and compare young players completely in a short tryout window. It can also be difficult for players to stand out amongst so many of their peers in the younger ages. Every summer I have at least a few meetings with parents who don’t agree with our evaluations or our placement of players. I’ve been hung up on, screamed at, cursed at, cried to, and begged for a higher team placement for a child, for one reason or another. I’ve had several parents decline their child’s offer and instead move to a competing club or stop playing altogether, due to a disagreement on placement. Nothing upsets me more than this. I love being proved wrong, watching kids earn their own placements and promotions through their work on the field. I am very happy that IAFC no longer has a limit to how many teams can form, so that we can develop all players that want to play. I share Miles’ story for a couple reasons. First, because I really have respect for him, even for being a young kid. I think he can be an inspiration to many players. And second, IAFC now has eight teams in some Academy age groups. It is a joy to get to see so many kids wanting to play this great game. Sometimes I get the question “why do we have so many teams?”. Each young player should have an opportunity to play, progress, and develop his or her own skills at the Academy level if they want it. Kids develop skills through experience playing the game at young ages, so that as they get older, they’ll be able to show their qualities on the 11v11 field. Eventually players do get cut, but it should not be during the learning years. Miles Bransford is not the only young player to go through something painful like being cut completely from a team… twice… and still get back out to try again. There are several other players I could spotlight here. However, he is one of many great examples of getting knocked down and getting back up. He and his family are a great example of trusting the process and allowing for failure, something every person will go through at some point. Miles may not be a soccer player for his entire life, but I’m certain he will be a successful and well-prepared adult because of his character and how he handles these difficult situations. I have a ton of respect for Miles and his family, and look forward to the next player to remind me how much I love my job, coaching kids soccer. Inter Atlanta FC Newsletter | January 2019 3

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