To our members:
I would like to address questions we have been receiving in recent weeks about one particular aspect of Long-Term Player Development. That has to do with the standards around the implementation of the new Ontario Player Development League (OPDL).
The recreational programs offered by our Clubs across the province are the backbone of the Ontario Soccer Association. That will always be the case. And while most of our membership is quite properly focused on their recreational and competitive streams, it is also important that we address questions about the OPDL which will become the pathway for our talented players. It may be that the new league is of interest to only a fairly small percentage of our membership, but we want to ensure that we have been transparent about the changes that are happening. It is important that everyone fully understands how the OPDL ties in with the holistic vision that we have for the entire player, coach and referee pathway in Ontario—from youngsters participating for fun at the grassroots level to those players seeking a long-term future in soccer.
We will of course continue to provide you with updates about how LTPD will benefit players across all talent and interest levels with all of our Clubs, but let’s focus today on the OPDL.
For those of you who were on hand at the Soccer Conference 2012 at the end of April, you will recall that we presented a detailed outline regarding LTPD and more specifically, the OPDL. We do recognize there were and still are some “holes” that will need to be filled in, and our Technical Advisory Council (TAC) is working diligently to move the planning process forward as we work toward 2014 and the launch of the new league. (On occasion our updates may not always get through to you, so we encourage you to visit our web site, as detailed information is available there.)
Specifically regarding the OPDL, the “Technical criteria” has largely been developed and was released at Soccer Conference 2012. For now, let me reiterate that there will indeed be specific standards in place with regard to coaching/referee requirements and staff development expectations. The “Annual Plan” is also in place, which outlines season scheduling and break times.
Technical criteria around League structure and how leagues “below” the OPDL will function in harmony with the new league are under review.
To remind everyone of some key timeframes and next steps in the process:
• October 2012—Membership consultation
• January 2013 OPDL—Information finalized, applications available
• July 2013—Applications close (for 2014 membership)
• Sept 2013—Club selection announcement
• April 2014—OPDL League play begins at U13 level (only)
The following are some of the most-often asked questions and comments that we have received in recent weeks about the OPDL. I will aim to provide some brief responses here. (Please keep in mind that we are also now catching up on our correspondence in this regard. While it has not always been possible to respond to individual e-mails in a timely fashion, we are working through that process as best we can, given our internal human resources realities. Please direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to respond, or at least provide more information in a future update.
1. Do all OPDL coaches have to have their National “B” license?
• Head Coaches in the OPDL (there will only be two teams per club in the OPDL in 2014—U13 Male and U13 Female) as well as a Technical Director (TD) will require a National B license.
• We have not yet confirmed this, but we anticipate that it is that likely in “Year One” the TD would be able to coach in one of the teams. (This would mean that, in 2014, only 2 National B License coaches would be required for 2014 OPDL Clubs.)
• A Provincial B license will be the minimum requirement for Assistant Coaches in the OPDL.
• We will confirm the required qualifications for other coaches/support staff (e.g. GK Coaches, Medical) in due course.
• Coaches below U12 with clubs will require the appropriate qualification for the development stage of the athletes they coach (i.e. Active Start – Soccer for Life).
2. How will the leagues below the OPDL work?
• At this point, as reinforced at Soccer Conference 2012, we do not envisage significant changes to league structures below the OPDL.
• TAC is currently working on providing direction to leagues and districts regarding any required modifications to ensure the Recreational and Competitive Matrixes can be implemented as smoothly as possible. This will include direction on:
o Tiering of competition (at what development stage and how)
o Self-determination into leagues
o Restrictions on OPDL clubs populating competitive leagues outside of the OPDL
o The regional consultation scheduled for October 2012 has been targeted as the timeframe and planned forum for further communication and consultation on these areas.
3. What is the cost to those Clubs that will have teams entered into the OPDL? How will Clubs be able to meet these costs?
• We are working on a template that will give Clubs an indication of likely costs. That will be communicated with the wider membership when finalized.
• Costs are likely to be very similar to the costs associated with a team entered in the OYSL or OWYSL.
• The main difference is expected to be that OPDL clubs will have 2 teams in the first year and 4 teams in the second year in the OPDL. Currently, the fees to clubs (players and parents) depend on the number of OYSL teams a clubs has.
• Removing barriers to participation is a principle that TAC has been defined and guided by; we will be doing everything possible to keep costs down.
4. Schedule conflict: i.e. players in OPDL have an opportunity to attend showcases in Ontario and U.S. and would miss OPDL games in spring and fall
• One of the main purposes behind the OPDL is to give Ontario players the ongoing environment in which to train, play and be identified for further honors nationally, internationally and within the college system (Canada and US) here in Ontario.
• The OPDL Annual Plan has managed ‘weeks off’ within the schedule. Some are for rest and recovery, some are for provincial and national identification and some are for showcases both in Canada and in the U.S.
• As part of the OPDL we plan to have an OPDL showcase at which time top universities, Clubs and Academies can come to Ontario and see some of our most talented players—rather than necessarily having teams travel to the U.S..
• However we will still provide windows of opportunity for OPDL teams to travel to showcases and this will be communicated in the final information overview presented.
• Under LTPD, teams will have roster flexibility to ensure they will never be short of players for matches.
• Ultimately, Clubs—in conjunction with parents and players—will determine which pathway, league and Showcase Tournaments, locally or in the United States, will be best suited to their particular Clubs, teams and players.
5. Has the OSA released what all the “standards” are? Can you provide Clubs with detailed criteria/standards for entry?
• The draft standards were presented at the Soccer Conference 2012.
• Those draft standards related primarily to technical, facility and administrational/governance standards.
• The draft standards are documented within presentations that are on the LTPD page of the OSA website (under LTPD Resources/OPDL)
• The draft standards are in the process of being finalized and will be communicated with the membership at the appropriate time.
• Handouts capturing this information were also distributed at the conference.
6. What are the details on the implementation of Regional Training Centers?
• Further details regarding implementation of the talented pathway (OPDL and beyond) will be communicated over time as part of our ongoing planning process.
• Our “Talented pathway” will not be implemented until 2015. More time is needed for the details to be finalized in regard to the revised regional/provincial/national pathway and programs. We will aim to provide clear direction to the membership as soon as possible.
7. Coaching Qualifications
As coaching qualifications is perhaps the issue which has engendered the greatest number of concerns and questions, let me make a few additional comments about the new coaching criteria around the OPDL:
• It is really important that we raise the bar and keep the bar high when it comes to coaching development in Ontario. In the OPDL, our coaches will be working with talented players and they must have the appropriate coaching qualifications to stimulate and grow those players.
• National B qualification is based on functional, phases of play and small-sided games which encompasses all aspects of the game. We believe a National B license is a more appropriate qualification.
• There are currently a good number of National B License Coach’s not including UEFA or USSF B. So, we have a great base to build from.
• Clubs still have over a year to help their coaches’ progress to reach a National B license.
• The OSA is offering two Provincial B License courses this year (rather than one) to help with demand. We will consider running a third if there is additional demand.
• The CSA is running three National B License programs this year and is also prepared to offer additional courses if there is the demand.
• We believe strongly that Clubs do need to continue invest in their coaches, as many OSA Clubs already have over the years. But it is important that we have the appropriately qualified and experienced coaches working with our better players in all Clubs and Districts.
• In 2014 (the first year of the OPDL), Clubs entering the league will require, as mentioned above, only 2 National B license coaches (male and female U13 teams). The Club Technical Director could be the coach of one of those teams.
We realize there are many more questions, but hopefully this will provide you with the preliminary detail some have not heard previously. We are working to ensure we have a more direct line of call and support for the membership in answering questions in both important areas (LTPD and OPDL). We will be stepping up our efforts in terms of OPDL advocacy, to ensure we are responding to the needs, interests and concerns of all of our member Clubs.
Please bear in mind that Long-Term Player Development is not an overnight “flip of the switch”. It has been in the planning stages for years, and here in Ontario, we have earmarked a timeline between now and 2020 to see the program fully adopted and properly implemented in every corner of the province. This will take time, patience and a lot of mutual cooperation.
Again, please view all the resources on the OSA Website in relation to LTPD and the OPDL at http://www.ontariosoccer.net/LTPD.aspx
Sincere thanks for your support and commitment. It’s a challenging process but we are making real progress.