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