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Canadian Soccer's $50 Million Question

djones

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Canadian Soccer's $50 Million Question
Written by Bill Ault
Tuesday, 12 December 2006

There has been a lot of talk recently about budgets, in particular the budget of the Canadian Soccer Association, which is estimated at about $13 million with about five of that going to our national team programs. The figures are estimated because in this country trying to pry the true budgets out of clubs, districts, provincial associations and not just the national governing body is akin to stealing the crown jewels – not easily done.

Even estimating based on what is published makes the waters murky – the Ontario Soccer Association last published budget (kudos to the OSA for doing so) puts their annual budget at about $9 million or about $25 for every registered player in the province. Manitoba’s published budget meanwhile comes in at just over a million or, wait for it, $65 per registered player.

The discrepancy, a topic for a whole other discussion, makes it difficult to extrapolate numbers for the provinces which do not publish their figures – but making an educated guess the budget totals for the national and provincial associations would probably in total come in at around $40 million.

Next up come the district associations and clubs. Again hard to estimate given so few allow open access to their budgets but a number do and so a conservative estimate based on the district numbers known or are published and the clubs that have a $500,000 plus annual budget (again known or published) a good round number would be $10 million.

So to sum up, that’s $50 million budgeted for the game in Canada – annually for let’s say the last decade – or a half BILLION dollars.

Obviously that is a lot of money. What have we gotten for our half billion? Well let’s start small and work our way up…

A world class coaching education system for our grassroot coaches where all things begin and the greatest influence on the development of a player is to be found? Um, no.

Top class coaches working diligently with clubs across the country to improve standards of play and development? Er, no.

Okay then hundreds of great facilities scattered about so at least our players can play on a decent surface, use a “facility” other than a bush when nature calls and have a post game shower? Nope.

A charter or standard published by our national governing body that point out to the clubs best practices, coaching and playing standards and the expectations from our national team coaches? Nada.

Five or six soccer specific showcase stadiums with seating for 12 to 20,000 fans? Zip.

A national team program that is the envy of the western world? Okay the western hemisphere? How about our FIFA region? North America? North of the 401 and west of Jane but east of Windsor? No, not likely, surely you jest, not in this lifetime, in that order….

We have though gotten one world class entity for our money something that seems so natural to this country that we often overlook it and don’t often recognize it until it is way too late – a world class bureaucratic FC up.

At times it seems we have almost as many administrators in this country as we do players and the further up stream you travel the worse it gets.

The vast majority of clubs, thanks to the thousands of man hours put in by volunteers survive with one or even no paid help with even the largest clubs usually only having two full time positions. The districts two to three people. Then it gets crazy. Check online sometime to see how many staff are listed with your provincial association – I found one with 30 – if you can do better (or worse as it were) let me know.

Absolute lunacy. The provincial associations are basically in place to govern the districts, run coaching education and the provincial teams programs. The district associations meanwhile basically govern the clubs and handle registration for the provincial body and by extension the national association. Can you say redundant? I knew you could.

Although it will likely never happen the process in this country needs to be streamlined.

The middlemen – the provincial associations – need to be eliminated. But who would do all the work they do now you ask? The national and regional associations – who should be doing it in the first place…

The grand plan:

Amalgamate the districts into regions based on population of 50,000. This would mean, give or take, two districts in BC, two in Alberta, two serving Saskatchewan and Manitoba, seven in Ontario, three in Quebec and one in the Maritimes. There are currently districts that handle the registration and governance of clubs with 50,000 members and they do it well – in this day and age there is no administrative need for more than this.

Players would register directly with the CSA through their region since there would no longer be a provincial body. It’s the same paperwork but instead of sending to your provincial headquarters you send it to Ottawa. That was easy.

Player development belongs with the clubs – leave it there. Turn existing district programs into regional identification programs leading directly to national training centers. Establish a national training center in each of the regions so players across the country are identified directly by national team personnel on the recommendation of regional and more importantly club coaches.

The club coaches would be able to perform this task better because as part their mandate regional coaches hired and trained (and answering directly to) by our national technical director would convey to club coaches on a regular basis just what the expectations and standards for the development of competitive players at each stage would be.

One final change allow every member of the CSA to vote directly for the people running the ship – one less thing for the middlemen.

I’m willing to bet that this and a lot more can be accomplished on $50 million a year.

editor@canadakicks.com

An interesting article about how much money soccer generates in this country, where it does and does not go and who’s responsible. Not that I totally agree with it all but the author of the article does bring up some interesting points.

Cheers

DJ
 

Regs

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Interesting but there are a lot of assumptions in there, not to mention vast blanket statements - no good coaching programs?

How does he get 2 districts in BC? Last available "census" for soccer in BC shows 130,000 registered players (or was it 120,000?). That's 3 districts minimum by my math.

The idea of sending all the money to Ottawa is laughable. That would go over real well everywhere BUT Ontario ( where the author is from :rolleyes: )...

The only point I would agree on would be to eliminate Districts. There should only be 2 levels in a province: Clubs and Provincial association.
 

trece verde

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The only point I would agree on would be to eliminate Districts. There should only be 2 levels in a province: Clubs and Provincial association.

Can't be done, Regs. Go take a look at your sister site for kids (bcsoccercentral.com for all those of you not keeping score) and check out how many teams there are. It's already a dog's breakfast (especially for the girls) travel-wise; and that's just in the Lower Mainland.

We do need to have some kind of localized infrastructure, if only to keep track of fields/scheduling/disciplinary issues. Registration is a whole other nightmare in itself...

As you say, even with his Trillium-coloured glasses, Ault does have some interesting points. We NEED to have more outreach from our "regional development centres." The first and only person I've seen from BCSA lately at a kids' level meeting was Jose Branco, out stumping to recruit more young refs. Where are all our provincial level coaches, and what are they doing about our "grassroots?" Nada as far as I can tell.

Time to wake up ladies and gents. Canning the parasite Pipe and his ilk in Ottawa should just be the starting point...

Trece
 

Regs

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My sister site for kids isn't bcsoccercentral, it's topofthebox.com :D

I guess what I meant is to remove the power that districts have currently - sure you need districts in terms of organisation and setting geographical boundaries, but the districts themselves should not have 'votes' or any say in how the province is run.
 

Sliver

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There's an interesting audio story on the CBC FIFA U-20 site

FIFA U-20 | Sports - CBC.ca

You can find it on the top right hand site of the page, in the On Demand viewer. Last story (clip 12 of 12 right now)

It's called CBC Radio One: The Numbers don't add up.

I wonder if anybody can post a link to the guys documentary.

De Guzman's dad is interviewed, he doesn't like the way his son was treated by Ontario/Candada soccer
 

Keeper

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There's an interesting audio story on the CBC FIFA U-20 site

FIFA U-20 | Sports - CBC.ca

You can find it on the top right hand site of the page, in the On Demand viewer. Last story (clip 12 of 12 right now)

It's called CBC Radio One: The Numbers don't add up.

I wonder if anybody can post a link to the guys documentary.

De Guzman's dad is interviewed, he doesn't like the way his son was treated by Ontario/Candada soccer
Very interesting article. Thanks for pointing it out.

DeGuman's father summed it up perfectly. Can't blame him one bit. You've got to wonder if Hargreaves encountered any similar situations during his youth.
 

akabaggio

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Hi Guys,

Thanks for the info on that report. Very interesting in that it addresses some of the concerns that all of us have a the "grassroots" level.

Recently we had some coaches from Empoli come out an do a weekend for us at CAP College. A couple of years ago we had a group from Perugia. . Since these aren't Milan or Man U it didn't get the kind of coverage I think it deserved , especially when you consider the sheer amount of players those clubs have produced in relation to the bigger clubs. In fact its these bigger clubs that get there players from them so there is ,as is voiced in the CBC report, a "pipeline" . With the amount of money parents waste on the Provincial Programs, Whitecaps and various other programs they would have been better off to have these coaches look at them IMHO.

What fascinated me most , however, was where there was a real synergy between the Italian coaches no matter what club or development program they are in. As a nation they believe certain things, that they have developed or noticed. This isn't to say they don't disagree with each other (they are Italian of course) but there is a thread that connects all of them to their National program

In Canada I am often amused at the CSA and Provincial Associations inability to adapt to the enviroment they are in. always we must copy one nation or another. The minute we do so we alienate another group. Instead of finding that commmon thread, ie a multicultural approach since that is what we are, like it or lump it.

As far as I can tell following an American system which for the last 10 years has had a weak national league (until maybe last year really) but strong College league due to scholarships and the NSCAA has lead to something that works for them. Since I see Canada not putting the same resources forward this system would not work for us.

As well , countries in Africa or South America where the kids are desperate and the riches to hard to ignore would not work as our kids are too rich in comparison. The closest I can see is a European system. But that would mean a drastic rethinking of our current mess

The problem , of course , is that we have no professional league and I don't belive that it is a mistake that in '86 that was a direct result of the NASL even though it pains me to say so. The development of a professional league based on a long term model is something we simply don't have the patience for or do we?

The answer lies, to me anyway, in supporting and expanding the clubs. I've always wonderred why in Canada we have a professional team that does not want to compete locally. The idea that clubs grow from the regions they represent into professioanl clubs requires a club-centric idea. It takes time and means that either the National or Provicial body takes a smaller role and gets out of development altogether and allowing the clubs to develop and create associations with each other to develop the kids. Can you imagine London having one team? The local rivalries and tribalism is what has maintained the game and until that radical idea becomes part of the current model I do not see anything changing but rather a repeat of the past and a lot of money down the tubes.

Sorry the rant was so long and I'm not sure I captured everything that I feel but I do look forward to your responses. A question to all of you is this, do you think its possible to make the clubs the primary role player and if you did how would you do it and what would it look like?
 

coachrich

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Cub-centric - akabaggio - I agree w/ your point as it's very similar to how local Euro clubs act as part of the feeder system into the Pro clubs.

Future is club-centric - where youth clubs combine or absorb senior clubs to develop a common cradle to grave pathway for all levels of soccer caliber. Why youth, they have the numbers, fields money & infrastructure to be built into proper clubs. Here youth & seniors coexist in a club on a common development pathway that services a marketshare for recreation level, elite, traveling & eventually a pro level.

Presently, clubs have already started to do cradle to grave programs. Examples are NSGSC, NCUSC, SSC, RGSA & others.

Clubs - clubs need to be real clubs like they are in Euro. Have inital & yearly dues, build club facilities. For this to happen there has to be compression in the market. There are far, too many clubs fighting for the same market & resources. Using Vancouver as an example there should maybe only be 2 clubs to serve the 7,300 youth & 1,700 senior players. Think of how easy it would be to develop strong programs, use the money effectively, deal w/ City Hall on fields.

Districts - they serve a purpose in many ways as the number of youth teams & clubs are more managable. 5 Girls District has 660 teams alone & that's not counting House teams in Districts or Club level Mini & Micro programs .

Also, how the PSO is structured makes voting more balanced at league & PSO levels. If youth was able to vote based on their numbers they would be running BCSA as about 85% of reg'ed soccer players are youth.

Putting youth & seniors into one club would streamline things & put enough money into the system to form Leagues that could be professionaly organized.

PSO - one of the big draw backs of a PSO is their lack of administrating in the digital age. Until there is a province wide CRM system that cuts down on volunteer work, organizing of PSO documents & etc. A lot of time is spent pushing paper vs program development & membership communication.

Development Pathways - most Canadian NSO's are Club/League to Provincial to NTC. Unitl soccer has Pro level clubs that will be the best way to get the best players into the National system

Pro Clubs - CSA, governents & businesses need to look at the soccer market & develop it.

Vancouver is again a classic example of where you have a City Hall that is not soccer friendly w/ their money for fields & taking 7 years of teasing the Caps to get where. By havng large clubs & speaking w/ one voice backed by lots of money the clubs could change things at City Hall. Also, having large clubs that are focused would help in the building of Semi Pro Teams that could be feeder/farm clubs for USL or MLS teams. Think of how the Junior Hockey system works & how successful they are with less than 1/2 our numbers nation wide & in BC only 40,000. Also, look at how effective they have been at getting money from City Halls to get their faclities.

Until the sport changes & sees amateur or semi pro clubs as part of the feeder / farm system the status quo of Sports Canada's selection sytem for NT programs will not disappear. Even then a lot of countries still maintain their Government pathway for Olympic & other event selection but more importantly access to money. Remember it was only in the last couple of decades that carded athletes where allowed to earn income. Now elite athletes are pros through sponsorhsip or play in pro leagues & can still go to the Olympics.

Summary - I believe clubs right now are going through changes of where cradle to grave clubs are going to compress the marketshare. This will help clubs get more money to devleop their programs, their infrastructure to be more business like & effectively deal with field issues.....no fields no development.
 

akabaggio

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Good points Coachrich. I belive that the future of the "big" club lies with being able to put pressure on local governments as well. I remember when Osieck came here and pointed out what a lot of people know at the CSA and the Provincial Body level knew but had no way to make it happen, the need for facilities, a true professional/development model and political weight. Say what you like about his coaching ability but I don't think he was wrong then and I don't now.

I do have major concerns with a Youth run provincial body , though. I'm not a big fan of the Districts, unless they completely get out of the player movement issue. I do recognize the ability of those same districts to at least create some continuity in Youth.

And there lies the biggest problem of all. Since most people involved in Youth organizations are there for the short term (while their child is involved) most of there decisions are based on that time frame. Senior soccer has a much more long term view towards things and I look at what Azzi has done at the MWSL and I don't think those types of changes could happen at the Youth level, there is simply too much opposition. That opposition is based on what clubs/districts/parents/coaches can get for their kids or to win their trophies not on what is best for the game. That, is of course , just an opinion

Like a lot of people on this board I've been involves as a player/coach/administrator and us frustrating as it is to deal with the senior leagues it pales in comparison to Youth.

So, the first order of business may be in continuing the "cradle to grave" within clubs and encouraging less restrictions on those clubs. Allow them to move players freely from age groups into higher ones regardless of whether it is "junior Youths,"Senior Youth" or "Senior Adult". First order of business , to me, is less regulation on the clubs. That , I'm sure is a very contentiuos idea. Rise of the clubs is not something any Federal or Provincial Body wants because it flies in the face of their own agenda. Lip service has been long ,action slow
 

coachrich

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One of the things folks need to remember is that youth has the numbers & dollars. They are 85% of soccer. Like NS Girls youth clubs will absorb Senior teams as Senior do not have a club structure which makes them no effective in maintaining development pathways or retaining players.

As far as I know BC is the only soccer PSO where the voting structure is not balanced on represention. When you combine youth clubs w/ seniors it all becomes the same as it's a club vote where clubs are concerned about their cradle to grave programs. Presently in BC it youth & senior vs just club.

There are politics in youth & senior. IMO youth is better run & services the development needs of the members better. Maybe your frustration w/ youth was quite awhile ago. I find on the Girls side it's pretty straight forward even when there are issues as their are rule books. Sometimes the lack of volunteers creates a small group at the top but then if you want to change things don't stand off & whine get involved.

Presently the MWSL has not connected well w/ the youth in teiring teams based on caliber. Also, youth leagues actually have rule books whereas seniors everything is in someone's head. Senior leagues where it is a team base league are old & not any good for development & retention in the sport. Cradle to grave will only be successful in a large club structure but youth will lead the way IMO. This will be because they are the laregest primetime users & renters of fields, youth comes first w/ governments, some youth clubs are the biggest investors in field infrastucture, their budgets for most 1000 members clubs are $400k - 600K. Seniors can't compare that so this is why you see compression of senior teams being absorbed by youth clubs. NS Girls & Semiahmoo being good examples.

I don't understand what you mean restrictions on clubs. Players are allowed to play up. On the girls side there are not youth to youth permits yet but they are pemitted up to senior on YtoS or ICP. Boys yes is my understanding that they now have youth to youth permit in some districts.

Less regulation in clubs not sure what you mean. One thing is certain is that youth clubs are creating cradle to grave programs inhouse to retain their members as too many senior teams have been living off the U5-18 development cost of the youth clubs. If senior teams want access to youth players they got to start thinking about being a part of the youth club.

Once the majority of senior teams are in youth clubs IMO you will see new senior leagues that are created by these youth/senior clubs much like you see youth clubs running youth leagues. The outcome will be better development pathways for cradle to grave soccer.

Btw aren't those CSA Finanicals a real piece of work
 

Captain Shamrock

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Coachrich,

Why did you tell the Richmond Premier team that we weren't interested in working something out with them? :confused: They've gone to Semiamhoo now which is shocking to say the least. :mad:
 

akabaggio

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Ok Coachrich, I'll entertain some of the ideas but my apologies for getting off the topic and pushing it Youth vs Adult. Lets just say I'll agree to disagree about who should run it. I see your point about existing structure but for me its not enough and too slow to happen. I will agree that the first pieces of the puzzle are already starting to form, that is the amalgamation of Youth and Senior. To be honest its not always a Youth based initiative. What I am tending to see is agreements worked out between big adult teams and/or clubs within districts and Youth clubs. But for me it is still regulated to a certain degree by districts and municipalities (read field appopriation here). I was in California last year and found that clubs were stepping outside of the region boundaries as set up by their states. So Colorado Rush as a club spans throuh 3 different states and has a membership of 10000 I believe. That's what I mean about stepping away from formal thinking about districts and/or boundaries.

In your response to imposed limitations of youth, it is not currently possible to move players from Metro to Gold and vice versa on game transfer. This flies completely in the face of development. A player that starts off the season in Gold with a series of call ups on an individual game by game basis, as well as at the Silver to Gold level, can help a lot in their development. Currently you can call up a player for a month and then a decision has to be made to push the player up permanently. The reverse doesn't exist. In a competitive enviroment that also opens the door to moving players down. Many administrators are uncomfortable with that notion but if we want to completely prepare our kids for what they are going to see outside of the Lower Mainland, which for some of them is University and for a select few, the professional game, then clubs need to have mechanisms to put players at the level they should be at. IF players feel they have been treated unjustly they should be allowed to move, whereever they want to. Bottom line is that players that do tryouts in May(!?!?!?) are not the same players that come in September who may not be the same player by December. We've all seen this and yet due to fixations on league standings and "winning" whatever that means here ( HI we're from (insert a certain interior Youth club here) and , errh we don't want to enter your A cup BC Soccer, so we would like to enter all of our capable A Cup teams in B cup so we can win a bunch of trophies for the kids - WTF?) the process of developing the compeitive player gets seriously twisted. Did I mention rampant poaching issues?

As for regulations on clubs, those regulations are created by the districts and BC Soccer ( ie 3 player import rule) and the governing of players forcing them to reside in a district regardless of the quality of that club. As you mentioned before if the system is to weed out, at the competitive level, the mass of smaller clubs , it makes sense to allow the free movement to exist. Players and parents play all sorts of games around this already, why not just allow it. Like I said radical. Thankfully that does't mean I'm correct but what is so dangerous about entertaining the ideas and enacting them? Could it possibly make things worse? NO matter how that "feel good" Gold Cup may have placated us , the U19 was a quick reminder as to where we are truly at.

As an aside you mention that I or anyone else should not just whine but get involved but I assure you I am very much involved in both Youth and Senior and a voice of dissent in this sport may not amount to much but if I see things that don't make sense I say so, both on this board and publicly. The issue for me is less about whether Youth or Adult should control the fate but rather how do you get to a state where power no longer resides with the Provincial body or CSA but with the clubs. It has simply never happened here in Canada as long as I can remember and I've been involved in the game as player, coach and administrator for 30 years.

I definately agree that senior teams should and will be absorbed by the clubs. That is almost complete in women's (for the Premier teams anyway) but still stunted a bit at the men's level. Until that procss is completed its maybe a bit early to change existing structures. NO question about the money, it is definately with Youth organizations and agreed , they do a pretty good job of keeping their houses in order with volunteers which can't be said about , errh, some others that might be involved in the beautiful game. In the meantime we will continue to see clubs attempting to either ingratiate themseves with BC Soccer and/or Whitecaps or be turned away as a new crop step up to get preferential treatment ( ie coaching select teams,finding friends jobs, inconsistent development programs that last for a couple of years then fade, inadequate representaion by regionalism ad infinitum). Don't get me started with the over influence of the Referees Association which should be independant from the lot. Yup for me, the ship is listing heavily to port. CAll me a glass half empty guy but really that is not the future we should have, it doesn't have to be like this. Honestly I do see something better for the myriad of people involved in the sport who are in it for the kids ( remember them? I don't mean you Coachrich, but rather all of us who are busy fighting over structure, rules and trophies) and for the development of a better quality of game in Canada

As for the MWSL, well what can you say? ask ALkira, I see from his posts that he is a big fan.

I haven't read the CSA financials, are they posted? I will go look at them, I gather I'm not going to like what I see?

Thanks for your insights, its much appreciated as there is as much the same as there is different.

TIme to get off my soapbox again.
 

coachrich

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Fields - are generally controlled by youth clubs. If not yet, they should be as the given political rule is youth comes first & gender equity & local kids first. If a club has not done this yet w/ city hall they are having field issues.


Colorado Rush - looks like an interesting set up as it has youth & seniors. IMO it's hard to compare US youth clubs which are Pro run to our amateur clubs up here. I think the present trend of youth & senior under the same roof will help move our amateur clubs into more Euro clubs where there is paid staff, head coaches & for elite teams paid coaching.


Youth to Youth - is allowed in boys district as far as I know but I'm not sure it's only up or both ways. Y2Y is not allowed in girls 5 District & Metro at this time as Districts don't want it. IMO I don't see permitting up as a huge development model as it takes time for a player to bond & integrate w/ any team especially females. When & if Y2Y comes for girls I would really have to think about it whereas seniors it's a no brainer due to commitment levels & life stage.


Development - I would suggest that until there is a common development pathway that all youth clubs buy into that it's just a competitive market place out there that doesn't benefit the players. Going further if there was a common development pathway from national to provincial to clubs that players would benefit. It's like the Euro system of where there is a feeder system from amateur to apprentice to reserve to pro, that doesn't completely exist in Canada.


Politics - sadly there are tons of politics in any sports. Soccer for me is probably the worse in size but I would image ice hockey is the worse in intensity. I would say the 5 District does a good job of tracking teams that are trying to playing down. Don't know about the Interior issue you talk about but I do know if your playing your team down you are not developing your players & that is something the parents should be wise about if the admins are hardware nuts.


3 player Out Of District - the OOD is a good rule otherwise in a competitive marketplace the club w/ the biggest budget would always have the best teams. Remind this is a amateur marketplace. Like I said before it clubs would compress into large clubs players would benefit, so would clubs & districts as the development pathway would be common. Vancouver is a prime example of having 11 clubs for 2300 girls. Doesn't make sense for a ton of reasons.


Clubs, Districts & Leagues - they have a lot of room to do things development & program wise but like most amateur sports they have boundaries or catchments areas. Sure players & parents play w/ postal codes & etc but who are they hurting when they get caught. I believe the object of boundaries is to not control the sport but to force clubs & districts to do a better job. The only reason they don't do a better job is because there is too much politics.


Power - Hats off for being involved & making a difference. Same reason, I am & I don't even have a kid but I've been at a International level of another sport & know that soccer has no national development pathway & a poor program. Is saying that I believe admins should focus on building strong Euro type clubs w/ great development pathways & programs for the kids.


Pro clubs - I see pro clubs as the future for bettering soccer for the kids but the foundation of that is the feeder system which is the local clubs. IMO until there are Pro clubs the PSO's will always be involved in provincial & national selection as that is the amateur sports model to funnel players into National & Olympic teams. When sports become professional the selection model changes as the development is not handle by NSO or PSO's but by pro clubs who have their best players selected for national & Olympic tryouts.


Future - we agree on youth absorbing seniors so the next step is to increase & better the development pathways & programs in those 2 groups in the club & how they connect to the leagues. If something doesn't exist or becomes a lousy league change it or create a new one.


Example is don't rely on PSO or the Caps or Metro for college recruitment create your own contacts & programs for the college scouts.


Teams that are stonewalling or playing down, write the league as in youth all the results are there & so are the rosters. This is why youth needs to be more involved in senior leagues. Especially when youth works on a cost recovery basis vs. the $300-400 it cost to enter a senior team then pay player fees as well. NOT needed & way too expensive.


Good to share & I appreciate your comments as it helps as one needs feedback & a different take to develop the best for the kids but it's all about development pathways & programming within the structure. Ultimately its a great committed coach w/ a program that gets the kids to learn to love the game & make a lifestyle choice to play long term.
 

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