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Article from 1998, sound like 2004..........


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........and good 'ol Jim is still on the Executive Committee.

Wednesday, 3 June, 1998

Soccer getting on the ball

By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

The big World Cup soccer blowout is about to kick off in France, the United States just announced a $50-million investment in the game and soccer is thriving competitively throughout the Americas.

Canada? The game is flatter than a burst ball.

But hold it. There's good news. There's been a shakeup at the top and more is coming.

After an eventful Canadian Soccer Association annual meeting last weekend in Saint John, N.B., all parties agreed the dreadful international slide Canadian soccer has taken must be reversed. Delegates followed their beliefs with their ballots and elected former president Jim Fleming of Edmonton over incumbent Terry Quinn of Mississauga.

Fleming immediately called for renewed emphasis on international programs along with domestic reforms. Canada has faltered badly in recent years and was next to an embarrassment during this zone's World Cup qualifying tournament.

In the most recent world rankings, Canada placed 78th. Once considered an ideal tuneup opponent for World Cup-bound teams, Canada's invitations this time were shunned by every team approached.

While the international program is only a small part of a scene that has 585,000 registered players, it's the most visible. And it has the most impact.

"The national team acts as a flagship, a mentor, a role model, if you will,'' Fleming said. "It fires up the imagination of young players."

Once a power in the North and Central American zone known as CONCACAF, Canada was kicked around badly during World Cup qualifying competition and was eliminated with ease, winning one of 10 games to finish last in a group of six. Once a stiff opponent, Canada scored five goals and gave up 20.

Critics blamed the poor showing on a trickle-down effect of weak leadership and an increasingly remote head office.

It was a fascinating battle for the leadership. Ontario Soccer Association president Ed Grenda of Kingston also was a candidate but withdrew and threw his support behind Fleming.

"I wanted to see changes; therefore I put my name forward," Grenda said.

It was not as simple as that. Grenda took the opportunity to be king-maker and serve his own constituency simultaneously.


Ontario is always under attack from other parts of the Canadian soccer community. When Grenda backed westerner Fleming, more than one delegate has said, it was clear this province's representative was prepared to take a hit for the national team and it wouldn't be forgotten.

In fact, it already has gone toward uniting an often-fractious national association. Grenda was named vice-chair of the CSA's professional soccer committee, of which ex-national team coach Bob Lenarduzzi was named chair.

Fleming was president between 1982 and 1986, when the national team qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

He also served on CONCACAF's executive committee from 1990 to this year. Quinn remains on the CSA's executive. Some detractors saw the election of Fleming as a return to the old guard but his reprise involves greater resources -- he had an opportunity to see how the other half lives while he was a vice-president of CONCACAF.

"You get to know people at the various congresses and I recall speaking with a Mexican friend about their program," Fleming related. "They're investing something between $3.5 to $4 million US annually into their program and you can see the improvement."

Mexico, grouped with Holland, Belgium and South Korea in the World Cup beginning a week from today, could prove difficult for anyone. The United States, in the future, anyway, could be the most dangerous of all.

They are actually aiming at winning the World Cup in 2010. Plans are to have 1,000 players at the under-14 level identified and funnelled into training camps. It's a major swing from college development because the the players would be full-time and ineligible under NCAA rules.

Fleming can't predict anything so dramatic for Canada's development other than to state new emphasis will be placed on the international teams, beginning with the under-20 team that will head for a competition in Trinidad on Aug. 3.

That, and a word that seems to have disappeared from the CSA lexicon.

"Accountability," Fleming said.

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