Operational Philosophy

Our Bylaws state: “EMSA Mill Woods exists to promote, develop and govern the soccer program in the Mill Woods Zone, providing wherever possible, soccer-playing opportunity for every youth in its Zone, regardless of gender, skill, ability level, race, or age”.

EMSA Mill Woods other objectives include the following:

  • Establish teams aimed, as best as possible, to ensure that each team consists of players of relatively equal skill and ability.
  • The placement, whenever possible, of players on teams within their own community.
  • Ensure that each team’s members play an equal amount of time in every game, except due to disciplinary matters, sickness, injury, or playing as a goalkeeper (who is permitted to play the entire game).
  • Serve as the sole authority for the registration of all teams for the Mill Woods Zone (EMSA Mill Woods).
  • Permit, where appropriate and prior to each playing season, its Affiliates, Associations or other groups to submit teams through the EMSA Mill Woods Registrar in the Mill Woods Zone.
  • Receive, consider, and accept when it deems appropriate, ‘special requests’ made by parents, guardians, or players with respect to age movements, ability to play with other players, or coaches, or specific community leagues.”

Although the above is enshrined within the EMSA Mill Woods Bylaws, we nevertheless encounter countless questions and circumstances that indicate a lack of clarity about why we do the things we do, and in the manner we do them. This section intends to clarify the philosophy
behind our soccer program.

Program Focus

Our program exists “for the benefit of the children” that play within it. That philosophy is the backbone upon which the EMSA Mill Woods soccer program is structured and the measuring stick for its activities and their success. Yet, what does “for the benefit of the children” mean?
Despite its passion for soccer, EMSA Mill Woods believes that soccer is a sport, and like all other sports, when the encounter on the field or “the game” is finished, life continues. Aside from the mantra “leave it on the field,” EMSA Mill Woods believes that playing soccer is only one part of a player’s life. Therefore, our soccer program needs to address not only the skills of the “game” but also the player and his/her development as a person.

EMSA Mill Woods structures its program to develop each player to his/her full potential. To do so, players need to enjoy their soccer-based experiences as players, team mates, and representatives of their community. Players need and deserve to feel important, respected, and valued both as individuals and as part of a team. They deserve to be given every possible chance to grow in a healthy and positive environment.
© Mill Woods Soccer Association, 2006

The ‘Making of a Program’

EMSA Mill Woods intends its soccer program to be ‘balanced’. When it concerns its players, the ‘program’ needs to:

  • Provide them a fair and relatively-equal opportunity to exercise and develop their skills during practices or games;
  • Place them within teams that would stretch their skills as player without disadvantaging their team mates; and,
  • Place them on teams consistent with each player’s general capabilities.

While EMSA Mill Woods wants to develop and promote its ‘super stars,’ it recognizes that all players need to form and play as a team. EMSA Mill Woods is, therefore, also concerned about the integrity, success, and support for each of its “teams”.
While the focus must always include the ‘player’, EMSA Mill Woods would be remiss if it allowed a free-for-all approach where the expectations of individual player or parent create chaos or undermines the collective good of a workable ‘program’. To that end, EMSA Mill Woods strives to maintain a balance between the desires of individual players, their parents, or potential coaches on the one hand, and the needs to maintain a viable and consistent program on the other. This requires EMSA Mill Woods to occasionally turn down player-parent-coach requests. It is an unpleasant responsibility/task that is not taken lightly.

Linking the Tiers

Soccer programs are layered, or “tiered”, in recognition of the diverse skill level of the teams within the program, and their respective players. Teams in the EMSA Mill Woods soccer program range from Tier 7 to Tier 1. The intent of the program is to encourage and facilitate the movement of players to the Tier level, which best reflects their skill, ability, interest, and commitment. Playing for ‘competitive level’ teams (i.e., tiers 1-3) is expected
to be more demanding (i.e., skill, time commitment, intensity of play, cost) than for ‘community level’ teams (i.e., tiers 4-7).

Players’ demonstrated technical skill and attitude are among the key factors in their placement. Players that have the ability to move to a higher tier should be encouraged to do so by their current Coach, and their advancement should be recognized as the result of ‘successful coaching’. Such advancement is encouraged by the Association to:

Have players play at the best possible skill level;

  • Promote talented players;
  • Develop the strongest possible teams; and,
  • Create role models, opportunities, and rewards for players wishing to develop their soccer skills.

© Mill Woods Soccer Association, 2006


The EMSA Mill Woods soccer program is owned by its “members.” It includes registered players in the EMSA Mill Woods Program (current or the immediately preceding soccer season), their legal guardians or parents, their Coaches, and current EMSA Mill Woods Board members. They must be 18 years of age or older, with a valid and current Community League membership in the City of Edmonton.

The Association (EMSA Mill Woods) has jurisdiction over its program through which participating players, coaches, and parents enjoy the game. It would consider players request for a specific team or coach, but not guarantee it. It would also respect the fundamental right of players in its program, or their parents/guardians, to play in the EMSA Mill Woods program, or withdraw from it.


Coaches must first be willing to participate in the EMSA Mill Woods program and adhere to its policies and procedures. EMSA Mill Woods coaches are not automatically guaranteed that role or their team and must be appointed to a coaching position by a Board representative. The appointments are based on a variety of factors including: the applicant’s interests and skills, outstanding disciplinary issues (if any), current program needs, available teams, and so on. Coaches are NOT appointed to the role based on the request for them by players or parents. All coaching staff members are expected to comply with the Association’s Code of Conduct, policies and procedures.

Coaching Philosophy

EMSA Mill Woods recognizes that coaches (and their teams) are naturally competitive. It also recognizes and accepts that its coaches will have diverse coaching styles and techniques. Nevertheless, EMSA Mill Woods expects all its coaches, regardless of player age or team’s tier, to:

  • Act in a manner that brings respect and credibility to the sport of soccer (i.e., the game, its players, team or game officials, and spectators), and the EMSA Mill Woods soccer program;
  • Coach in a positive, respectful and supporting manner; and,
  • Assist each player under their care to grow in skill, and mature in attitude.

EMSA Mill Woods recognizes its responsibility to support the soccer-related development of coaches (and referees) to conduct their respective duties. However, EMSA Mill Woods will accept absolutely no action or omission of action – by its Board, staff, coaches, players, or parents – that is detrimental to the wellbeing of its program as a whole.


The interpretation of the EMSA Mill Woods Bylaws, policies, procedures and this “Operational Philosophy” is at the sole discretion of the EMSA Mill Woods Board.