Canadian Youth Soccer

There’s not enough private enterprise in Canadian soccer to allow it to be successful. [Pt 1/4]

Before the article begins i would like to make you aware of a meeting that is happening on April 22nd with myself, Will Cromack and former Whitecaps Assistant coach Paul Ritchie to discuss Youth Soccer coaching in Vancouver. Please RSVP if you are a coach and would like to join us: Youth Soccer Coaching in Vancouver

In the last couple of years while I have been living and coaching soccer in Canada, I have often been asked what I think it would take to improve Canadian soccer. On the men’s side the Canadian national team currently sits 110th in the latest FIFA rankings for April 2014. The team hasn’t played a game since November 2013 so perhaps if they don’t play again they can continue to rise up the rankings as they have done, by a place each month, in March and April!

Whatever you think about the merits of the FIFA ranking system isn’t really that important in this discussion because one thing is for sure: The Canadian men’s soccer team has been on a disastrous run of results since the 8-1 mauling at the hands of Honduras in October 2012. The team hasn’t scored a goal in the last 10 matches it has played. Canada’s record is: 0-12-3 with 2 goals for and 27 against in the last 15 games. The team is certainly a long way from the high of playing in the Mexican World Cup Finals of 1986.

I have lived and coached in Scotland, the USA and Canada. I have studied soccer with a passion and have been around every facet of soccer in each of these countries. From these cross-cultural experiences I believe there are a number of really obvious problems that Canadian soccer has to solve if it wants to be considered competitive in the world of soccer.

Growing up in Scotland it was very clear that football was the number one sport, the number one topic of discussion and the subject that dominated all media. That is not the case with soccer in Canada or the USA. Therefore, most of my opinions on what needs to be done to improve Canadian soccer are based on my years involved in soccer in the USA and Canada.

When I first visited the US in 1994 there were many people who thought the World Cup was a boat race and many others who thought I was in their country because I was playing in the World Cup. I may have been slower to correct the second misconception! Suffice to say soccer was way behind where it is today. There were virtually no soccer fields, I didn’t see hardly any kids playing the game and when I coached youth players at soccer camps that summer it was clear that the standard of play was very low. I remember setting up a drill at a soccer camp and telling the defender to tackle the striker only for the defender to flatten the poor little kid NFL style. It was his only point of reference but I have to admit I still find myself doubled up laughing when I recall that scene. When I spend time in the US now I see plenty of soccer fields, a lot of kids playing and a much higher standard of soccer on show.  Things have changed. The US national team sits almost 100 places above Canada in 13th position and many of the challenges that Canada face in developing soccer are the exact same ones that exist in the US.

I believe I have set the current scene fairly accurately and here is the first major problem that I see with Canadian Soccer: There is not enough private enterprise in Canadian soccer to allow it to ever be successful. I truly believe that one of the reasons soccer has flourished so quickly in the US is that private soccer enterprise exists everywhere. There are so many organizations coaching soccer, running camps, setting up tournaments, running clubs, operating overseas tours, developing private facilities and the list goes on and on. When I lived in Cleveland Ohio for three years there were soccer clubs, indoor soccer arenas, tournaments, leagues, camps and an entire industry built on youth soccer. Former players of the Cleveland Crunch/Force professional indoor soccer club were running almost all of these enterprises. The team had been very high profile and extremely successful in previous years so when all of these players ended their careers and decided they wanted to stay in the area they simply planted their flag in the ground and started their own soccer club or program. A very similar scene is present in North Carolina, where I also lived and coached for three years. From my time in the US I have found that all over the country there is significant opportunity for hard working, qualified individuals to make a living from delivering quality soccer programs. There simply is not the direct opposition to soccer entrepreneurship in the US that seems so prevalent in Canada.

There may be similar soccer programs in Canada, but there is one subtle, hugely significant difference. When an individual person is relying on the success of their soccer business for their livelihood it changes everything. If I own my own soccer club, for example, I am thinking about how to make it successful all the time. I know that if I recruit one kid to my club that can be worth, for arguments sake, $3000 per year. If I recruit 10 players to a team that becomes worth $30,000 and if I keep those kids with me for 10 years it is worth $300,000. If I lose a player from my program because I don’t do a good job, because I don’t hire the best coaches or because I don’t have good facilities, etc.… than I effect my own personal income. If one of my coaches doesn’t turn up on time or offends a parent they affect my personal business. They affect my ability to pay my bills and take care of my family. The stakes are so much higher so I have to gain more coaching qualifications. I have to get sponsorship to cover costs. I have to hire the best coaches possible. I have to get the best facilities and I need to make sure that I am doing a great job of developing soccer players. If my company is not helping players improve and get to the next level of their development than I won’t survive, but my competitor will. As a result of this the people who run these companies have to get better and better at what they do. They are convincing kids to play soccer instead of other sports, starting them in quality programs from a much younger age, convincing them to play more soccer, play in more tournaments and be committed to the game. Players get better, teams improve, competition increases and as a result there are better players being produced. Young players who are not on elite teams at the youngest ages are still getting great coaching and playing competitively in good facilities. Some of them develop into good players and excel by the time they are 17 and 18 years old which is a much better time to be the best player.

In my experience of youth soccer in Canada the landscape is completely different. Almost all of the youth soccer programs I have been around are operated by local not for profit organizations where the vast majority of the coaching is done by parent volunteers. Ironically between the ages of 5 and 11 there seems to be minimal coaching being delivered to young players by highly qualified coaches. This is the crucial age range where the best athletes decide what sport they are going to play and where the best opportunity for skill acquisition exists. In the US this age bracket is the one that is often operated the best because this is when the business owner can attract customers for the next 10 – 15 years.  The best coaches need to be coaching the youngest players but instead the best coaches tend to be paid the most and they end up coaching at the older ages. By the time the players are 16 or older it is very difficult to fill in the gaps they have missed and I believe there are so many of these gaps. Except for the few players on elite teams, the young soccer players in Canada are coached by parent volunteers who have had little or no coaching education. The chances of these players maximizing their potential without high level coaching, facilities or competition is very slim. As a result of the system, Canadian soccer is making it almost impossible for a youth player to develop into an elite level soccer player if they are not streamed into the top tier of soccer by the time they are 12. Can you believe that is when the decisions are unconsciously made? How can you possibly not put elite level resources into the vast majority of youth soccer players at such an incredibly young age?

The not for profit organizations that run Canadian youth soccer want to do a good job, but they don’t have to. Only the Head Coaches of these clubs really make a living from these clubs and they are paid a salary. Unless they treat people badly or are grossly negligent these coaches will be in their position for many years. They don’t have to produce successful players to make their business succeed. They don’t have to convince the best athletes to play soccer instead of hockey because they will be paid the same amount of money regardless of the registration numbers. I could go on and on about this and I realize some people won’t see any relevance to this perspective. However, I can assure you I have lived and breathed soccer in the US and Canada and I have no doubt about this. Until individual or syndicated private soccer enterprise can operate with no barriers to entry into the marketplace, Canada will never develop into the soccer nation we would all like it to be.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. Tell me what you think, defend this broken youth system if you can, offer your solutions and if there is a genuine interest in this topic I will be happy to share my opinion on some other significant changes that need to take place.

 

This is Part 1 of 4 articles on the subject of Canadian Soccer.

  • Does Canada Need it’s Own Domestic Soccer League? [Pt 2/4]

 

Discuss this topic with myself, Will Cromack and former Whitecaps Assistant coach Paul Ritchie on April 22nd. Join here: Youth Soccer Coaching in Vancouver

48 replies
  1. mike says:

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head Martin.

    The question remains…is anybody in Canadian soccer listening? As a volunteer coach over the past 8+ years I have come to conclude the community based soccer system is a failure. There is little regard for the customers (parents & players). In particular, on the girls side. A monopoly simply has no incentive to pay any regards to those who pay the bills when they are the only (soccer) game in town. I also see little in the way of oversight regarding gov’t funds/grants which are utilized to pay very large salaries to one or two individuals per club…regardless of results.

    What I have concluded (short of BC Soccer permitting open competition) is only the growth of other sports on the female side may force community soccer associations to fix how they operate their respective clubs and provide a superior development program.

    BC Soccer needs to open up the competition.

    Reply
  2. Roy England says:

    I enjoyed your article and your point of view. In an ideal world, having high level coaching at a younger age level for everyone is an ideal situation. How this could be achieved is another subject. However I believe you have overlooked the main advantage of running a house league program. Considering that 99.5% of youth playing at a house league level will never play soccer for a living, it seems that you should consider other benefits. I have recently retired from participating in the operation of a house league operation in the Toronto area for over forty years. The motivation for myself and dozens of other club directors over this period was the social benefit that a house league program provides. Our operation consisted of approximately 1000 children under the age of 18 years of age and a winter program that consisted of an additional 400 participants. Every year we enrolled many players that did not have the ability to pay a registration fee. Having players involved in something that they cared about, teaching them about good sportsmanship and in general teaching them to be good citizens was the reward we considered being worthwhile. We have always felt that the youth that played with us over the years were better for the experience by the time they moved on to the next phase of their life. In addition to this program we operated a rep. division which has provided a few players which have advanced to a professional level. Also we have assisted many players to secure a university education. We lost count of how many players have advanced this way but it would be in excess of one hundred players.
    I agree with you that the non achievement of soccer excellence at the highest level is a national disgrace. This record of non achievement falls directly on the highest level of Provincial and National organizations that have done a miserable job in promoting soccer in Canada. Yours truly, Roy England

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Thank you for reading Roy and i appreciate your feedback. However i have to correct you, in that i have not over looked the advantages of the kind of program you mention. This article is directed at creating excellence in Canadian Soccer so that Canadian Soccer can be a success at a professional level. At no point am i suggesting that the quality youth programs run by people like yourself should not exist, they are hugely important to youth development as you say and i support them fully. This article is solely positioned at success for the Canadian national teams. Thanks again!

      Reply
      • Anita Kovacevic says:

        We lack soccer businesses and professionals who devote their entire focus to the top tier — to those players who chose soccer as a future career. In turn, our youth players do not believe they can turn pro, unlike hockey, where even the youngest Hockey player wants to be Sidney Crosby. And yet soccer is our most popular sport among youth nation-wide. By changing our attitude and behaviour at the top tier, by working for the elite player, and by developing a winning strategy, sea change can happen. But yes, it is a tough slog, as I have found in my attempt to develop and sign professional players– Canadian players have no professional network of hardworking scouts, agents and representatives to support them. That needs to change. And I am trying in my own way to figure out how to fill in the gaps, but it’s tough to find answers when you don’t even know what questions need to be asked. And in the meanwhile our youth aspiring to the top leagues right here, right now, is lost. And that is the saddest aspect of this whole article– the vast number of players with unfulfilled potential because of the lack of soccer entrepreneurs.

        Reply
        • Martin says:

          Thanks for your comment Anita.

          Yes this infrastructure is not in place, also with no Canadian domestic league there is not an outlet for players that don’t quite make the MLS grade to continue laying professional soccer in this country. I have written a post on this very subject that goes live tomorrow.

          Thanks again

          Reply
  3. Mark says:

    Interesting post, you touch on many different points. My biggest question is what is the structural difference between the US and Canada soccer environment that encourages a for-profit soccer industry to develop there and not here. I don’t think there are regulations stopping someone in Canada to setup a for-profit academy if they have the financial backing and coaching skill. Yet to your point, there are few organizations doing this which means there must be an economic disincentive to do so.

    From a purely business perceptive , I found that many US business concepts don’t scale well in Canada because of the small population and vast geography they must contend with. Which might be part of the issue why every former professional player hasn’t setup a soccer enterprise in his/her former clubs’ town.

    Philosophically, I believe more competition to develop talent will cause youth soccer organizations to improve their product. However, if FIFA rankings are the ultimate measure in how well a country’s soccer program is doing then by all standards the Women’s National Teams status means that the Canadian system is doing fine producing world class players.

    Reply
    • Cam says:

      Just a quick tidbit from experience as its happening to me right now about your question is that it’s not a matter of if private soccer groups would work its that they are not allowed to. All soccer organizations prevent them from happening. I have my daughter in one and now she is being blackballed by the organizations and she is 10. The private soccer I have her in is fantastic. Everything about it. I would drop out of our house langue and do private all alone if I could but the private company is prevented from joining most tournaments or leagues, meaning no games. I could go on and on with examples. It flat out makes no sense.

      Reply
  4. Richard Howes says:

    I think there is room for both for-profit and not-for-profit soccer ventures. What we need is a change of attitude on the part of the regulators, the provincial associations. For some reason they seem highly suspicious of soccer business ventures, irrationally so in my opinion.

    Reply
  5. John Pannebaker says:

    Sounds like Canada should look to Iceland for some inspiration. They made all their coaches go out and get high level certifications, and now look at them. It all starts with the coaches. If the coach isn’t qualified, the players won’t be able to cut the mustard

    Reply
  6. Bobby Graham says:

    Martin, good report and I agree with you, unfortunately our National and Provincial Associations do a terrible job at player scouting and player development. We have to get this right first or everything else will not work. I would have you look at Uruguay as a soccer country, they have a population that is very small and yet they can produce fine soccer. Private business is important, because if we do not develop players or teach players correctly, we will be out of a job, not like many club programs or national and provincial programs where we keep recycling coaches, regardless of how they do with development and winning.
    I was dissapointed to see you not be given more time as in my opinion things were going to be good in Vancouver with you at the helm and your staff. Patience for a good Coach and support is needed if any program is going to succeed. Hope you stay in Canada, and someday we can be competitive in Men’s and Youth Soccer.
    At the younger ages, we need more futsal fields where kids can play free of charge and free of organization. Allow them to feel a passion for the game. The game can be the teacher, and they will raise the skill level big time.

    Cheers, Bobby Graham, Director-Winstars Soccer Academy, Ontario

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Thanks for your feedback Bobby, i appreciate your words.

      Every aspect needs to be looked at, i couldn’t agree more.

      Reply
  7. Andrea Agnoloni says:

    Well said, but unfortunately it is nothing new, sadly enough this issue has been going on from the early days of soccer in Canada and still goes on. When I got involved in soccer as a coach and as a parent about 16 years ago, I saw the same problem. I was fortunate enough with some good support I was able to change the mentality of our Club on the North Shore and provide professional coaches for the kids at the age of 6 and 7 when they were starting their soccer experience. We started the First Kix program that was adopted by other Clubs and in some form still goes on today. But it was a big struggle to convince the Boards that this was a good thing for kids in soccer.
    Coaching certification is important but most important is continuous professional development, which lacks in this province. taking a certification course is not enough, the provincial body that administer the certification must also organize clinics so the coaches can adjourn and update with current methodologies.

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      I couldn’t agree more Andrea. By no means am i suggesting that by better coaches the problem will be fixed, everybody from the bottom to the top needs to be on the same page and develop together.

      Thank you for your feedback.

      Reply
    • Cam says:

      Thanks Andrea for starting first kix but you are obviously no longer with north shore soccer cause they do exactly what Martin is talking about. No further explanation required.

      Reply
  8. Gregor Young says:

    While making youth soccer in Canada more friendly to private companies, it’s hardly a panacea and has its own set of pitfalls. The average soccer parent’s ability to discern between excellent coaching and the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach of some coaches charging large sums is quite low. There are excellent private ventures that have proven track records but there are also many, generally smaller and more recent, ventures that seem to specialize more in over-promising and overcharging than contributing to proper development. When people don’t know what development should look like they tend to fall back on what the coaches say to them about it rather than what they actually do with the players. I’ve seen a very high priced private outfit run a lengthy “pass to the coach, get it back, shoot on the parent keeper” line drill with virtually no instruction or progression.

    Increasing private options is generally a good idea. Increasing parents knowledge of what good coaching is is even better at this stage.

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      I agree Gregor, the education is not limited to just coaching. It’s the whole system that needs better education, the coaching, the parents, the players & anybody else that is involved.

      Thanks for reading and your feedback

      Reply
  9. Tony Caig says:

    A very interesting article , I happen to agree completely ,
    I was fortunate play and coach professionally in both Canada and the USA after Playing in the UK for many years.
    There are many similarities between Canadian and American players in terms of physical and technical attributes but the exposure to better coaching , contact time , facilities and higher standards of opposition for games gives the USA’s kids a much better chance of achieving elite levels .
    Canadian soccer needs to seriously look at the development programme for younger players and how to expose the kids to the best coaches in the foundation phase 9-11s.

    Tony

    Reply
  10. John H says:

    Interesting article and discussion (and then I re-read the article). Clearly there is not an either/or solution to the challenges in Canadian youth soccer. The solution that has worked in the US may not be the only solution that can work in Canada (and perhaps not the best solution). I have a number of years experience with youth training in an inclusive system that also develops forms of elite teams, but more recently have been involved in the parent coaching crowd. I have seen in our club how effective the addition of even a small amount of top level professional support to a large non-professional team can be. To maximize access for youth, find the talent thats being missed and develop players there is no way this can be achieved without a large volunteer support base. Training these volunteers is important, but finding ways to effectively disseminate professional talent in Canada and train them to effectively amplify their impact through the non-professional volunteer pool is as important. I know from my professional (geological) work that some of the best technical professionals do not have good instructional skills. I suspect professional sport is not different. How do we better promote, encourage and train professionals for re-entry to the youth system? Is there a commercial solution or is this a national/CSA type problem?

    Perhaps a related question coming out of one comment that did not get any follow-up nibbles is “Why is there so much difference between the current men’s and women’s national teams ranking?” Does this contribute to understanding how to “fix soccer in Canada”?

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      There is definitely a place for volunteer run programs, i think some people have confused my message. I am not saying that Private enterprise should replace all other forms of soccer coaching in Canada, i am saying that without it, it will be a struggle for Canada to reach any real success.
      In the video i answered the question regarding the difference in the men’s & women’s teams. With no disrespect to the women’s team, they have done great. However the hard fact is that the competition is not even remotely the same as in the men’s game. So many Canadian girls and women play soccer, more than most other countries. This is not replicated in a lot of countries that you might expect to be. Even in the UK, it’s an extreme rarity to see girls playing soccer on a public field, maybe the occasional one girl with a group of guys, but that’s it. Where as here you come across it on most evenings of the week if you drive around. Many other big European nations are the same, it’s just not that popular. So unfortunately it isn’t a blueprint to fixing soccer.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and give your feedback. It’s appreciated.

      Reply
      • John H says:

        Oops, missed the video.

        Didn’t mean to imply I disagreed with your point. I was speculating what a continuum between NFP and private enterprise might include. Sounds like the original article and many comments see a need for augmenting NFP. Would Canada not be a lot thinned on qualified private enterprise resources than the US? Wouldn’t a Canadian model need to accommodate that?

        Reply
      • Mike says:

        Martin, you are correct that we are not seeing the performance of the women’s program in the correct light. We are actually massively under performing in the larger context. First, we have a relatively large pool of females in soccer vs most countries. Second, we tend to get many if not most of the better athletes on the women’s side. So the real question is why are we not dominating the women’s game? Dominating does not mean win every game, it means in a position to truly win every game. The simplest reason, I can find is that there are too many restrictions in our system. Those restrictions are too few places to actually play between 18-23, too many restrictions in who can do what. We spend so much energy in Canada arguing about who can develop a player, that we don’t realize we a doing a relatively poor job given the player pool available. When you look at Iceland, Japan, now Denmark, Italy, Spain, etc. All those programs are getting everything out of the small pool they have while Canada continues to waste potential.
        Example: Japan has roughly 35,000 females soccer players. Canada maybe 350,000. All one needs to do is watch and analyze the Japan U17 womens performance from such a small pool to realize something is dramatically wrong in Canada.

        Reply
  11. Joshua Hart says:

    Mr. Rennie, I fully appreciate your opinion and am a big fan of yours. I agree that we have the wrong coaches at the younger age groups, but I don’t think it’s as simple as private for-profit coaching, vs community not-for-profit coaching. Being from a country that enjoys football/soccer as it’s main sport, and then having coached in Alberta and BC, the problem is still the same : the coaches. The head coaches of the club are indeed usually the ones who stand to make the money, but even if they strive to improve, or strive to improve their coaching staff, the emphasis is still on results, instead of on player development. In Alberta(where there are no catchments), technical directors can make a lot of money from having more players join their club, and the best way to market/promote their club is by being “successful” i.e. winning. It’s the same in other places as well, where the phrases “boot it”, “send it” and “don’t play with it” are a staple set of guidelines, from as young as 8-9 years old.
    There are so many things we can add to the mix when discussing the lack of quality plays coming through the pipeline, but I strongly believe the main setback is the emphasis on results over individual development.

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Thanks for your feedback Joshua.

      I am not suggesting that this is the only thing that needs to change for their to be progression in Canadian soccer. The whole system needs an overhaul but i see this as being a key component. Education, as i have said in other comments doesn’t just stop at the coaching, the parents, the system and everyone else needs to be educated into a different mindset. Once people are on the same page and realize what really matters then there is a platform to build on.

      Reply
  12. Mike says:

    I think this whole argument should be about free enterprise of development. Meaning than anyone can develop a player. It should not matter if you are non-profit, For-profit. What should only matter is whether is doing under the observation of the governing body to the guidelines and strategic vision of that body.

    This is like a public school versus private school debate. Both educate students, both can send them on to University or employment. Both operate to the guidelines and standards set buy the governing body. People have a choice to select one or the other, although not everyone can necessarily afford the private version. It turn there are many good public schools.

    Reply
  13. Cam Roberts says:

    Martin, I just want to say thank you. I couldn’t agree more. I have a daughter who just turned 10 and I have had her in a fantastic private training group for almost 2 years. Now at 10 years old she is being blackballed by the soccer associations. Shocking. She is only 10 and puts in so much hard work.
    Vancouver, BC

    Reply
  14. Cam says:

    Read what is written. At min what is being said is why not allow private soccer training on top of what is out there right now. Why, as a parent, can’t I have a choice. It’s that simple. Sure there are lots of other variables for successful soccer but why can’t I have a choice.

    Reply
  15. Huw Harris says:

    Brazilian Soccer Schools in partnership with the Richmond Olympic Oval is providing programs for kids 5-12 that is purely skill based technical development. You emphasize the key problem that in BC where most districts fail to give the youngest children the best coaching. The kids often fail to be given the technical confidence which would lead to some success, inspire them to be more involved and experience the joy and excitement that the game can provide.

    If we cannot get it right at 5-7, 8-10, then it becomes so much harder for the kids to truly reach their potential. It is no wonder BC fails to produce many professional players and trails other provinces in players selected to national programs.

    The syllabus and programs Brazilian Soccer Schools run are intended to compliment the coaching that the kids receive with their teams in their districts. We see a huge gap in what the kids need and what the clubs and associations are able to offer and intend to fill that for those kids who wish to learn how to play the Brazilian way.

    Reply
  16. Wesley says:

    A flaw with your proposal is that it ignores the talent in the inner cities (where raw talent has a higher concentration.) We have this problem in America. In America, Soccer has turned into a sport for the wealthy living in the suburbs due to this set up. In Miami, Fl the only club teams exist in the suburbs while the raw talent of the inner city children can never be fully developed. I would argue that for USA to become to compete on the world stage, along with Canada, this is the talent that must be developed and nurtured. However, for these type of kids would never be able to pay for proper training, and thus we need non-profit clubs for this purpose. This is where civic funding or charity can come in, but what really needs to happen is the US and Canadian soccer federations need to divert their resources here. The American model ignores the true centers of raw talent and passion for Soccer. It’s just a shame that the most talented young kids in many cities (with large immigrant populations.. like Miami for instance) can’t play club because no club can make a profit in the hood. While perhaps the integrating the American model would elevate Canada’s teams from poor to average, it will never make Canada’s team elite. Additionally, America’s teams will never be elite until we abandon this model and make it sustainable for anyone who wants to take soccer seriously to do so.
    Also your Whitecaps team was a joy to watch, great soccer.

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Thank you for your feedback Wesley. I understand what you’re saying and am not suggesting for 1 second that we should forget not for profit organizations, they serve a great purpose, in Canada both are needed and they need to be able to work together. Here in Canada due to the lack of financial motivation from the organizations the kids are not being developed by professional coaches, which is harming the future of them and Canadian soccer at a higher level. There is no 1 fix solution, however this is one important factor in the future development in Canadian soccer. By making for profit organizations, the opportunities for scholarships to these talented young players that do not have the money become available, and with the demands for high standards of coaching from the parents that are paying for this service you then get better qualified coaches developing them.

      I appreciate your comment regarding the Whitecaps, i’m glad you enjoyed to watch.

      Martin

      Reply
  17. Peter Munster says:

    I am coaching in Ontario and could not agree more with you that the not for profit organizations paralyze player’s development. I have been born and raised in the Netherlands and admit I likely know more about soccer than the average parent. I happen to take soccer rather serious, I teach the kids the rules and skills they should know at their age group. However when parents bring kids late, think soccer rules are there to be changed, house league referees do not know rules it becomes very frustrated. Soccer in Canada is seen by the majority of parents as ‘something’ to do. As I coach I would argue this is a soccer club, follow the rules, it is fun to learn so why not teach your kids how to play soccer. Apparently you cannot play soccer unless the sky is blue and it is not too hot, anybody ever heard of a sport without discipline? Parent have and since we are part of the OSA every kid gets equal playing time. Kids that are good athletes get so frustrated they do not even want to play anymore, to be honest this might be the last year I coach in this system. You know what would be a very easy fix at this point: have a house league and a competitive league. If you want something to do play in the house league, if you want to learn how to play soccer play in the competitive league (competitive as in you actually want to learn how to play soccer). I will volunteer for the competitive league no problem as I really enjoy teaching kids who want to learn how to play soccer.

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Hi Peter

      Thank you for your feedback. That’s a good idea regarding two separate leagues and it would be good to see it considered. It’s interesting that you mention the weather as here in Vancouver the weather is no worse than where i come from in Scotland yet Soccer is only played in the summer. We play all winter long back there with no problem.

      I do urge you not to stop coaching though, the game here in Canada needs people like you to help it develop where we know it can.

      Thanks again

      Martin

      Reply
      • Peter Munster says:

        Thanks Martin,
        In February I had an email conversation with Bobby Lennox (Manager, Grassroots Soccer Development) regarding development. He indicated there are recreational and development streams in Canada. I thought this was great, until I found out that these streams start at U13! As to the weather, Ontario is a bit different but still you would think an outdoor season could last longer then 10 weeks? Luckily there are indoor programs as well.

        Reply
  18. Leonard says:

    BC Soccer is so threatened by private sector academies and clubs that they fear that the so-called “non profits” or community clubs would collapse in the face of such competition. The potential benefits of allowing more free enterprise into the system would actually solve the problems perceived by those who do not subscribe to training and playing with the best possible options. Those who prefer access to a different playing/training option are well within their rights to ask for and receive one. Those who are satisfied with the non-profit model are most welcome and encouraged to maintain the status quo. One should not be sacrificed at the expense of the other.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] that there are four areas that need to improve for soccer to develop more effectively in Canada. 1. There needs to be more private enterprise.  2. There needs to be a domestic professional league.   3. There has to be a clear vision, […]

  2. […] Province Article can be found here, and Martin Rennie’s essay can be found here […]

  3. […] development of soccer within Canada. If you have missed my first two posts on this subject about Private Enterprise in Canadian Soccer & Does Canada need a Domestic League please check them out and let me know what you think. I […]

  4. […] There's not enough private enterprise in Canadian soccer to allow it to be successful. [Pt 1/4]. […]

  5. […] Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie wrote an f&#1072&#1109&#1089&#1110n&#1072t&#1110n&#609 blog the other day. It&#1109 premise was th&#1072t, in Rennie’s opinion, […]

  6. […] My first point was that, in my opinion and experience, there needs to be significantly more private enterprise present in Canadian soccer for the game to grow and for player development to be maximized. Based on your feedback I am […]

  7. Play Better says:

    […] Here is the video of the entire night’s conversation. While it is quite long there is definitely lots to take in. It also consists of a great Question & Answer section that starts at around minute 14. Most of Martin’s talk was based on his recent article that is posted here. […]

  8. […] to say that Rennie has a legitimate alleyway into the discussion that we shouldn’t ignore. Here, he says that the trouble with Canadian soccer is that it doesn’t trust private enterprise. To boil it down, he says essentially that […]

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