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Time to Change

Canuck Oranje

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To borrow from the probable future President of the USA

Yes We Can!!!

The time to initiate change is now. We are done for 2010 and we have the maximum time to 2014.

This is not about changing the MNT Coach (He should be let go). This not about firing the CSA Directors (because currently we don't have the power to do that). And this is not about hiring Canadian or foreign coaches (although we can learn from them).

Many here have pointed to the need for change. The most common answer we hear is that we can't. It's either about money or the structure of the organization of Canadian soccer or just plain lack of talent (coaches and players).

The fact is the time is to get creative to overcome these challenges.

In my view, there are three key issues that need to be addressed:

1. The limitations imposed by the current CSA budget.

2. The quality of coaching in Canada.

3. The lack of accountability of the CSA.

I'll start by tossing up some of my ideas. I challenge others to throw up ideas as well. The CSA is clearly bankrupt of ideas (and maybe money too). If something doesn't get started from outside the Canadian Soccer establishment, we will go through this again in 2012 (qualifying). Heck,Paul James is already saying it will take 12 or more years. I disagree strongly with Paul James. But things need to change to do that. Here goes:

1. The Limitation imposed by CSA Budgets.

The CSA appears to be controlled by the national sports association mindset as opposed the global soccer mindset. As a result, we see this constant throwing up of the hands and saying we have no choice. I don't not believe the opportunity to get money is as dire as the CSA makes it. It is my view that the attendance and popularity of the 2007 U20 WC is as responsible for the sudden increase in interest in MLS franchises in Canada as the success of Toronto FC. Unfortunately, changing the mindset at the CSA requires a bottom up approach. Perhaps, we need to focus on building strong alliances with local clubs rather than focusing on the CSA. After all, we need to convince them that it is in their interests that we have a well-managed national association. Without the support of local clubs, we are flighting an uphill battle. Professional clubs should also do more to create linkages with these clubs.

Why local clubs? Well, they have direct access to the source of talent. They also have better access to their communities and those with money.

2. The Quality of Coaching in Canada

There will not doubt be debates about who should be the next Coach of the MNT but since we don't get into WCQ again until about 2012, I suggest that we have more pressing issues than finding a new Coach for the Men's National Team. My view has always been that we need to focus on improving the development of players from 14-20. By extension, that means we need to find ways to improve the coaching these players can get inside Canada and outside professional academies. I am talking about raising the overall talent level of this age group and the overall level of soccer IQ at the local club level.

From my experience, the bigger and better organized amateur soccer clubs have a number passionate and dedicated amateur coaches. Unfortunately, the opportunities to improve their player quality depend on the coaching knowledge available and the local financial conditions. We can't change the local financial conditions but I feel there are more opportunities to help coaches get a better level of appreciation what they need to aspire to if we look creatively. Somehow, advanced coach development needs to be broadened. The CSA and provincial associations will say that they don't have any budget.

The CSA and the provincial associations tend to assume that they are the authorities in Canada on coaching and that they have the exclusive networks that can improve coaching talent. I believe that it is precisely this arrogance that holds back coaching development.

OK here's an idea and using myself only as an example. First as background, I have been involved in coaching youth soccer from 1984 to about 2003 and been fairly regular here. I've not been involved locally since 2003 because of lack of personal time and because my children are no longer involved. Compared to other Voyageurs, I am probably a little older than most. My key point is that there are many others on this site and many involved with youth soccer across Canada that have networks that need to be activated for the cause. While I don't doubt that our associations have networks, I would argue that the soccer networks lying dormant in this country are almost criminal. Myself, I have met more ex-national team players from other countries living in Canada than I have ex-Canadian national team players. I have always wondered how we can get those new Canadians more involved in soccer in one way shape or form. As for networks, I am sure that many here that are no more than two or three degrees of separation from some high level professional clubs around the world. Personally, I can think of a connections to a number of clubs that fit the bill for me. I am sure that my example is multiplied more than 100s of times over across Canada. And it sits on the sidelines because our National and Provincial associations are too concerned about holding onto power.

Without getting too specific using myself as an example, what if you offered a program to U16 coaches across Canada that would pay, airfare, accomodation, and food for a two month excursion to Brazil. Each coach would be assigned to different participating clubs as an amateur assistant to that club's Copa Sao Paulo (U19) team. By going in early December the Canadian youth coach would be involved in preparing that club's team for the tournament that takes place in January. During the tournament, they would continue to be involved with the team and have a seat on the bench with the team to observe just how these top Brazilian youth coaches work the field and their players. There are youth coaches in Brazil that have English language capability so I'm sure that a number of placements are possible. As for why these clubs would participate, many clubs would welcome having another set of hands and eyes to assist with the preparation. The key learning for these coaches is seeing first hand what serious youth development and competition looks like. I am confident that this experience would change their perspective. I haven't even thought about my European and African networks.

Again, I am sure there a number of others out there that would activate their own soccer networks if approached in a respectful way by those currently involved in administration of the sport here. The most important point is to encourage activating these networks rather than dismissing them out of hand as those in power in this sport are quick to do. Keep in mind that it was Eddie Edgar's connections to Newcastle United that brought David there and not the OSA nor the CSA.

3. The Lack of Accountability of the CSA

This is the most challenging change that needs to happen. I don't think blowing it up is an option. Neither is leaving it as it is.

We need to begin by asking the question, who is the CSA accountable to? In my view, the CSA is accountable to the people of Canada and more specifically, Canadians that care about soccer. This is where all the problems with the CSA emanate from. If the CSA is clearly held accountable, then I am certain that those with money would be more willing to invest in the future of the national team and soccer in general.

So how do we improve accountability to the people?

Again, I believe we need to build this from the bottom up and then improve the chain of accountability. First, all local clubs need to re-examine their constitutions. I believe constitutions of these clubs need to allow for supporter members. The mandates of the clubs also need, in addition to their current purpose, to have some reference to raising the quality of and the profile of soccer as a sport in the community they serve and Canada as a whole. Membership fees should be the same for all wanting to be members of that club. Note that I am not saying that clubs should stop doing what they are doing now in offering recreational soccer to the community. I am suggesting that the local club should be the door through which people locally can use to get involved in the sport of soccer without necessarily having children involved or be involved in administration or coaching. This may open up sources of money, networks, and sources of management talent. Using my own example, I would be very interested in having a membership in my local club without actively being involved in administering the club.

The second and equally important piece of this approach is that local clubs should be able to qualify for direct membership in the CSA if they meet certain membership criteria. Maybe this would be based on a threshold number of members and a membership fee to the CSA. While not a huge amount, this would provide the CSA more funding but with direct accountability. It also allows all of us frustrated fans a way to get involved and who knows, there may be some of us that might actually get more involved with the sport again locally. While I suspect there would be some resistence to this, the fact that there might be money in it might actually push the CSA to change their constitution to allow this. Also with enough pressure from powerful clubs, it might actually work and also reduce the grip that provincial associations have on the CSA.

This is a long post but I welcome your ideas and thoughts.

As for me, this has been therapeutic.

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I agree with the overall view that unfortunately there are no short term solutions to our problems.

We had all been holding our breath, praying that this team would get us to the WC and we didn't want to interfere with any potential they had as a group.

We must now take some time to gather our thoughts, organize and legitimize the movement to renovate the football landscape in Canada.

I will be collecting my thoughts over the next couple weeks, and I think along with those who attempted to initate the CSF movement, we will need to develop a thorough plan as to how we can improve the system.

I agree with your three main points, though our problems are more deeply rooted than simply correcting/improving those areas.

Time is now on our side, next important match will be in approximately June 2012.

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quote:Originally posted by Toronto MB

Time is now on our side, next important match will be in approximately June 2012.

When your a Canada supporter and have as little to look forward to as we do you gotta take the Gold Cup seriously.

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Yes therapy is good and god knows we all need it. I found your post very good in that respect.

Aside from the points you made and the obvious changes that are required with the national and provincial bodies here are some ideas. I'm not claiming ownership because I think others were suggesting the same or similar things.

1) Play a 2 team strategy from here on. A Euro MNT and a NA MNT. For all our players who play in Europe or NA get friendlies or practice sessions for all FIFA dates. Whoever can make it makes it, if they can't, no problem. Don't hold it against them if they are tired or busy with life. They are humans too.

Here is why I like this idea.

It will get the younger players (17-20) in with the older ones so we can give the coaches a chance to gage the upcoming talent. It will also help the younger players develop and see what they need to do to make it.

Less travel for the players. Hop on a train and you are almost anywhere in Europe quickly. A plane ride within Europe would also be cheaper than a transatlantic flight.

The coaching staff can split up and some go to Europe and some deal with North America. Switch up so all coaches see all players.

When time comes to play GC or WCQ warm up games and tournaments you get the players together from both and pick a location that is as close to the majority as possible.

2) Get futsal happening across the country. We have a short outdoor season and we need a nation wide indoor soccer program. As much as I love arena soccer FIFA has chosen futsal so lets use ONE standard set of rules (FIFA's) for the whole country. With the re-emergence of the outdoor game in NA the arena game seems to be fading.

3) Presence (media & public). WCQ happens once every 4 years. We need more frequent reminders to the public that things are happening. The U20 & U17 WC are good and we need to politely remind the media that these things are happening. Add in futsal and we have a more frequent schedule. More things happening more often will lead to more coverage.

Anyway, onward to 2014!! [8]

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quote:Originally posted by leafdolfan

When your a Canada supporter and have as little to look forward to as we do you gotta take the Gold Cup seriously.

I'm not willing to let the Gold Cup be important enough to give the CSA or its critics any reason to postpone the necessary changes.

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In addition, I want to say that all of what I say in the initial post was to set the stage for an organization that can properly finance and administer the sport nationally including have some credibility when it hires a coach. I agree that it is important to develop Canadian coaches but that does not include simply handing them the keys to the national team without being properly prepared for it.

In my view this all stems back to a lack of accountability on the part of the CSA structure. If that is not fixed, everything else lacks a solid foundation.

At the same time, trying to develop a new organization outside of the existing organization is also probably a non-starter.

In the end, we need to pick at the structure that we have and tweak and cajole it so that it works. And that means that it is accountable to whom it should be. The irony is that if you take the existing amateur clubs in Canada and make them clubs that represent all soccer interests in their communities, you get clubs that start to look like the early clubs in many countries around the world. And all it takes is some changes to their constitution.

Many clubs will not go for it but some probably would if it means more support and more profile.

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