Going for the Goal
Writer // Rebecca Wood Photography // JJ Kaplan and submitted
Most afternoons and evenings, Ian Scott is found on the Zionsvillle soccer fields. He cheers on players, guides coaches and offers tactical advice to the next generation of athletes. As Zionsville Youth Soccer Association (ZYSA) Boys’ Director of Player and Staff Development, Scott oversees a legion of coaches and over 300 adolescent boys. With a lengthy and impressive soccer resume, many welcome Scott’s guidance, and his forward-thinking leadership has earned the attention and accolades of the Hoosier soccer community.
In March, the Indiana Soccer Association awarded Scott with the prestigious Roy Pohill Club Director of Coaching of the Year Award. The award recognizes a club director of coaching who supports the Indiana Youth Soccer vision of player development and code of conduct.
“I was surprised and delighted to be recognized by my fellow peers,” Scott says.
ZYSA Girls’ Director of Player and Staff Development Jonathan McClure nominated Scott for the award.
“Ever since Ian has been at ZYSA, he’s made a positive impact,” McClure asserts. “What he’s been able to build has been sustainable and is impressive. What I really appreciate about Ian (and our entire staff) is that he/we understand our opportunity to work with kids is so much more than the game of soccer. It is truly about providing the best experience possible to every one of our players.”
When Scott stepped into his position four years ago, he committed himself to educating coaches and creating a positive, safe environment for players and coaches alike. Scott introduced child protection training courses for coaches. Coaches must attend first aid training, a sexual abuse awareness program and suicide prevention course. Under Scott’s leadership, the club instituted an anti-bullying policy.
“Teachers go through that training,” declares Scott. “We are teachers really, and we should be going through the same training. I’m trying to create a pool of courses for the coaches to help them take care of the kids and create the right environment.”
Scott is passionate and familiar with coach training. For 16 years, he served as a coach educator in the United Kingdom. The English Football Association requires coaches to receive first aid and child safeguarding certification. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is gradually implementing stronger coach training requirements. In the last few years, U.S. soccer has revamped coaching courses. However, American coaches are not required to be certified in first aid or attend child safeguarding courses.
Under Scott’s watch, ZYSA was the first club in the state to introduce sexual abuse awareness training. Scott refers to the club as a “pioneer.” Indiana soccer followed suit and just introduced sexual abuse awareness training.
Born and raised in Manchester, England, Scott’s earliest memories revolve around soccer.
“As soon as it was light, you’d be out with your mates with the soccer ball on the fields for two or three hours until your mom came,” Scott remembers. “It was my life.”
Scott joined an organized soccer team at age 11, the earliest allowed age in England to register for an organized soccer team. (The age requirement has changed since Scott’s youth.) At 14 years old, Scott signed with Manchester City Football Club, training with the team on school holidays.
At age 16, Scott signed with Manchester City full-time. For the next two years, he served as an apprentice with the team. Scott made his professional debut with the team at the age of 18. For the next three years, Scott played with Manchester City in about 50 matches. The author Phil Gatenby documented Scott and his Manchester teammates successful season in the book, “Teenage Kicks.”
From Manchester City, Scott moved to the Stoke City team. At the age of 24, Scott played for Bury Football Club. A groin injury briefly sidelined him from play. At the age of 25, an ACL tear ended his professional career.
“I remember saying to my dad, ‘I’m not playing anymore,’” says Scott. “I was devastated and fed up with injuries.”
Although Scott left his player position, he remained in the soccer world. For the next 16 years, Scott worked in the realm of coach educator and coach in the United Kingdom.
In 2010, an English friend phoned him about a job opportunity. The friend had moved to Indiana and was acting as director of coaching in Westfield. For a few years, Scott worked for the club while fluctuating between the United Kingdom and Indiana. A permanent position in Westfield moved the Scott family over to Indiana. In 2014, Scott accepted his current position with the Zionsville soccer club.
Since Scott stepped into his Zionsville position, ZYSA parents have noticed the changes.
“Since Ian and others have come to ZYSA, we have seen both big and small changes for the better,” remarks Mike Copher, a parent to two ZYSA soccer players. “Communication has improved, player development is emphasized and a fun atmosphere has blossomed. Having someone with a background in soccer at the highest level provides a great foundation for our kids.”
While Scott focuses on training coaches and teaching soccer fundaments, he strives to infuse fun into the sport.
“I want to create a culture where kids are happy with what they are doing,” says Scott. “I want to make soccer fun for the kids again.”
Copher adds, “Ian has worked hard to build a soccer program for the players to learn the game, enjoy it and respect it while remembering they are kids first.”
Scott beams when talking about his favorite part of the job. “When I receive an email from a parent saying I’m inspiring, it makes my day.”