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Youth: FGCU professor teaches youth soccer to parents

By WILL GRAVES, wrgraves@naplesnews.com
August 6, 2004

Ask Dr. Lee Duffus what makes him a 64-year-old man with gray sprinkled on top of his head and a doctorate in business administration enough of an expert on youth soccer to write two books on the subject, and the teacher has a classic one-liner at the ready.

"I get away with it because I'm older and I have a foreign accent so they perceive I know what I'm doing," Duffus (pronounced DUFF-us) says while he fights back laughter and leafs through a copy of his latest book "The Soccer Triad" on his desk inside the Florida Gulf Coast University College of Business office in the Gateway neighborhood of Fort Myers.

Of course, Duffus' knowledge goes a little deeper than the way he talks, though the good doctor's speech still heavily tinged with the clipped vibrancy of his native Jamaica gives him an air of authority regardless of the subject matter.

Maybe that's why parents approached Duffus in the early 1980s to coach a team his son, Jason, played on.

To be honest, though, Duffus didn't know too much about the game. Sure, he could kick it around a little bit, but he never played much truly organized soccer during his childhood in Lucky Village.

So Duffus, a lifetime student as well as a teacher, did what he always did when he took up a new challenge: he studied. He learned how to teach different skills, how to relate to the children, and how to get the parents involved in the learning process.

"From ages three to eight or 10, the parents are at every game, they're involved in everything their child does," Duffus said.

"But they're in the stands during the game and they get caught up and scream at the coaches and the referees because they don't understand offsides or why a penalty was called."

Duffus wanted his teams to play in an environment that was more positive, so he turned his knowledge into a philosophy, and "The Soccer Triad" was born.

The book, available at http://www.soccertriad.com/, is more of a soccer primer for parents who want their children to play even though the parents themselves may be unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the game.

"I wanted to provide some education so the parents can be informed about the game," said Duffus, who coached and refereed the game for over 15 years.

"Winning is important to the parents and the kids, but it should be secondary to having fun."

There are chapters with titles like "Fun in the Pursuit of Victory" and "Organizing Your Parents." There also are chapters dedicated on how parents can handle their children, from preventing the "Superstar Syndrome" to keeping team morale up.

Each chapter, or module, is followed by a short quiz. Remember, the man has been a teacher for decades.

The book is part of the "other" life Duffus leads. He heads the masters program in marketing at FGCU, but he has many passions, including helping parents and children have a better understanding of the game and each other.

"When I'm dead and gone the legacy I want to leave is: Did I make a difference?" Duffus said.

"This is an attempt to make a difference in a child's life, because today's children will be tomorrow's parents."

Duffus will get a chance to spread his philosophy at this weekend's Florida Youth Soccer Association meetings at the Hyatt Regency-Coconut Point in Bonita Springs. He'll have a booth set up outside one of the ballrooms, doing what he does best: teach.

"I also use the game to re-enforce values I try to teach at home," Duffus said. "It talks about fairness and how to obey the rules. Things that go beyond the field."

   

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