PDP/FUNiño Frequently Asked Questions

Look here for answers to common questions about the Player Development Program and FUNiño! If you have a question that is not addressed here, email our Director of Coaching, Walt Stewart at doc@decaturyouthsoccer.com.



Why is the PDP and FUNiño being offered to our players?

Traditionally, youth players have two choice when it comes to playing soccer; play recreational soccer like we have always done in Decatur Soccer OR you play club soccer which is much more expensive in terms of time, money and travel. The PDP is designed to bridge the gap between these choices.  Click here to learn more about our motivation to implement this program.

Back to top

How will the PDP work?

It will run concurrent with our Recreational program. This means the PDP will meet at the same times, on the same days, and at the same facility (Jack Allen or Point Mallard) as our Recreational program. If you have one player in the Recreational program and one in the PDP, you won’t be asked to be at two places at once. Players cannot participate in the PDP and Recreation in the same season.  Unlike the Recreational program that plays weekly games, the PDP players will participate in “mini-tournaments” every few weeks on Saturday mornings. The “mini-tournaments” consist of 3-5 FUNiño games (depending on PDP participation numbers) over 2-3 hours.

Back to top

What is FUNiño?

FUNiño has two components: (1) the Game format (2) The Player Development Methodology

Back to top

The Game format
FUNiño is four-goal game created by Horst Wein, the world’s foremost authority on developing youth soccer players. Everything about the game of FUNiño is designed to teach young players “game intelligence” in an optimal setting where the game is the teacher and the rules are the instructions. By having two wide goals on each end of the field, the concept of “width” is introduced early on. Why is “width” important? Without it, you have what everyone recognizes as “swarm” soccer where everyone bunches up. To learn more about the game format, click here: <link here>

The Player Development Methodology
Professional youth academy and grassroots teams all over Spain, Germany, Italy and many other places around the world use the FUNiño player development methodology to teach the game. The curriculum is focused on teaching “game intelligence” in a player-centered, game-based environment. All that means is that the Decatur Soccer PDP, by using FUNiño, builds intelligence and creativity using something that all kids love: GAMES!

Back to top

What do kids like about FUNiño?

Kids love to play FUNiño and here are a few reasons why:

  • There is a lot of goal scoring and most everyone scores
  • Extremely fast pace of play – much faster than standard soccer game
  • No set positions – everyone attacks and everyone defends – no goal keepers
  • Automatic rotation of players means everyone plays about the same amount of time
  • Players touch the ball A LOT! There is nowhere to hide during a FUNiño game.

Back to top

Why is the FUNiño curriculum better for developing players than the Recreation program?

Soccer, at its core, is a problem solving game for players. How often they have to solve problems and how frequent a specific problem occurs vary by their position on the field. Here are some typical problems players try to solve during a game:

  • should I pass or should I dribble?
  • when my teammate has the ball, what should I be doing?
  • when I have the ball, what are my options?

During a FUNiño game, there are no set positions; everyone attacks and everyone defends. Even the rules of FUNiño are designed to quickly and randomly present problems that must be solved to be successful. As a result, players learn much faster than they would in a normal game. During FUNiño games, the coach’s role is greatly minimized. The coach has a much larger role during training sessions, but even then, the games and activities themselves are designed to do most of the teaching. A large part of our coach education program is learning how to ask the players questions that guide them to the solution instead of simply telling them what to do. This “guided discovery” method is key to creating an optimal learning environment.

Back to top

What are the differences between the PDP and the Recreation program?

The primary differences between the two programs are:

  1. the format of the competition
  2. the variety of activities in training sessions

Back to top

During the pilot phase of the FUNiño PDP, we will mainly target more experienced players for participation.  This is done to simplify player groupings and make the training sessions as efficient as possible while we learn what will make this program successful for everyone.  However, there is room for newer players who love the game and really want to develop.  Above all, we are looking for players and parents who would answer the following questions with a strong YES!

  • Does your child already love the game of soccer?
  • Do you want to see your child become a smarter soccer player?
  • Can you commit your child to attending no more than three training session each week and a 2-3 hour competitive, intra-league FUNiño tournament every three weeks during the season?
  • Do you think there should be a way for your child to develop and grow in the game without the financial and time requirements of competitive travel soccer?
  • Are you agreeable to participating in a pilot program that, by nature, may have some unknowns despite our best efforts to the contrary?  This program is new, not only in Decatur, but the state, region and possibly the country.

This program is not for you if…

  • …you think soccer is just a great way to get your player some exercise.
  • …the most important thing to you is being able to tell your friends and family that your child plays on a “winning” team.
  • …you want to travel around the state playing in competitive club matches.
  • …you, as a parent, want to shout instructions from the sideline during games.
  • …you as a parent, can’t commit to bring your child to as many training sessions and competitions as possible.

Back to top

When does the PDP season begin?

Due to coach education taking place the week of August 11th, the PDP season begins on August 19th.

Back to top

How are the PDP practices different from typical Recreation practices?

The PDP coaches follow a set curriculum designed to foster game intelligence and creativity in the players. Each training session is structured around five activities that quickly move from one to the other. There is little down time and the players are “happy-tired” at the conclusion of each training session.

Back to top

Why are there mini-tournaments in PDP instead of single games?

The following is the core tenant of the FUNiño curriculum…

The Game is the Teacher.  The Rules are the Instructions.  

With this in mind, there are several reasons for going with a “mini-tournament” format over weekly single games:

  • Very little learning takes place in a standard soccer game.  Most of the  learning occurs in training sessions and the games serve as check-up on that learning.  In FUNiño, where the Game is the Teacher and the Rules are the Instruction, a  mini-tournament is just an extension of our development plan with more opportunities for constructive feedback between games.
  • When developing players, the competitions are ALWAYS less important than what is learned in training.  Why? For true development to occur, you can’t try to WIN RIGHT NOW and DEVELOP players at the same time.   The goals of each are incompatible.  Competitive,  FUNiño mini-tournaments minimize the importance of single games.  Awards will be given out at the end of the season for various individual and training group achievements, including Best Overall Training Group.
  • Unlike a single game per week, the coach and players can talk about what to improve upon for the next game and then actually play the next game immediately.
  • Rolling substitutions, constant involvement in the game and the high number of quality touches make Funino more physically demanding than a standard game.  As a result, the games are shorter in duration.  A tournament format with several short games makes more sense than a single game that is longer and exhausting.
  • Lots and lots of scoring!  The mini-tournament format produces a large number of goals! It’s not uncommon for both teams to score over 15 goals per game!

Back to top

If my child is in the PDP, will they be placed on a team?

Yes. Instead of simply being on a team, however, each player will be placed in a training group of 9-10 players with one or two coaches. On game/tournament days, each training group will be divided into two teams which will compete against other teams in the program. Your player will have the same coaches for both training sessions and tournament games.

Back to top

If my child is the PDP, do they still get jerseys and team photos?


Back to top

How many players can participate in the PDP?

Ideally, we would like to have an Under-9 group for 7 & 8 yr olds and an Under-11 group for 9 & 10 yr olds. In each age group, we would like to have between 27-30 players. We can absolutely have a great pilot program with fewer players.

Back to top

Who are the coaches in the PDP?

The PDP coaches will be a mix of experienced coaches with a long association with soccer and coaches who are new to the game. Regardless of individual backgrounds, all the coaches are committed to learning a new way of teaching children to love and grow in the Beautiful Game.  If you are an open-minded coach willing to take a risk and, just maybe, be part of something special, click here to learn more about being in coach in our Player Development Program.

Back to top

How will the PDP coaching be different from the Recreation program?

PDP coaches will receive FUNiño-specific training before the season begins. This includes learning best practices for coaching youth players and the progression of games and activities that will be introduced during the season. To make the learning experience more consistent across all training groups, each coach will follow a weekly curriculum provided by the league.

Back to top