Ontario Soccer’s Ontario Player Development League (OPDL), presented by Toronto FC, officially wrapped up its sixth season this weekend, as the OPDL Charity Shield match-ups took place at the Ontario Soccer Centre.
The top teams from the boys and girls U-14, U-15 and U-17 divisions competed in one game finals, in front of a packed house at the venue in Vaughan.
In the girls divisions, Markham SC came away with two title wins in the U-14 and U-15 divisions. In the U-17 division, Ottawa South United completed the treble by winning the Charity Shield, having previously won the league and OPDL Cup.
In the boys division, the Woodbridge Strikers also came away with two title wins as they collected hardware in the U-14 and U-15 divisions. North Toronto put on a dominant display in the U-17 Boys OPDL Charity Shield to capture their own title.
While the OPDL Charity Shield is an integral opportunity to showcase the immense talent found within the OPDL before fellow OPDL members, scouts and families, the Charity Shield also raises money for Ontario charities.
“Congratulations to all the teams here today. Your hard work has brought you to this point and we wish you well in your continued development,” said Gary Miller, Director of Soccer Operations. “As well, congratulations to those in attendance who have helped us raise over $7,000 in money for the selected charities, as chosen by the winning teams. It’s great to see these groups building quality citizens as well as great athletes.”
Every dollar accumulated through the $5 admission rate is donated to Ontario charities, as chosen by the winning teams in each match. This year over $7,000 was raised and the winning teams have selected their charities to receive a portion of that amount.
In the girls division, Ottawa South United selected the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to receive their portion of the proceeds raised while the two Markham SC winners split their share between Covenant House and the Canadian Cancer Society.
In the boys division, North Toronto chose Kids Help Phone as their charity of choice. Woodbridge selected the Canadian Liver Foundation and Sick Kids Foundation as their charities of choice.
“This wraps up another successful season for OPDL and we’re thankful for the work our license holders do, week in and week out, to develop Ontario’s athletes,” said Gabriel Assis, Manager of Player Development. “The work continues in the post-season as Ontario Soccer continues to track and identify players for potential selection to the Provincial Teams and beyond.”
In 2019, the OPDL continues to be the hub that drives development in Ontario. 80 percent of Ontario’s male Provincial Teams were made up of OPDL players and over 80 percent of this year’s new intake to Toronto FC Academy were from the OPDL.
As well, on the female side, over 93 percent of Provincial Players selected were originally from OPDL organizations and within the Canada Soccer Regional Excel program, over 94 percent of participants were made up of OPDL players.
There were 149 OPDL teams in 2019 and over 2,300 players. Since 2014, the OPDL Athlete Scholarship Program has made $461,000 available to players who have demonstrated a commitment to development and have great technical potential, to ensure that OPDL is more affordable for as many families as possible.