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The OPDL Spotlight Series - The Umbro Showcase

By OSA News, 05/24/16, 5:45PM EDT


The Umbro Showcase Tournament has been in place for 11 years. It has provided a platform for young aspiring players the opportunity to be scouted by Canadian and American University coaches. The event now attracts over 175 university coaches on an annual basis. The showcase is held in Mississauga, Ontario every Victoria Day weekend. 

The tournament now hosts over 130 teams from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, BC and Nova Scotia. Hundreds of players have been provided the opportunity to move onto a university level of play in Canada and the US, as a result of this Showcase.

This year, the decision was made to include OPDL at the U-15 level. This week's OPDL Spotlight series speaks with Ontario Soccer Association Technical Director Gary Miller about the thinking behind the OPDL, what made the Umbro Showcase the right fit and the next steps for talent development in Ontario. 

What is the importance of showcase opportunities to OPDL players overall?

As the OPDL evolved over the last two years, attention now has to be given to the long term opportunities for players. This includes Provincial Teams, National Teams, Professional Clubs and Universities/Colleges. The majority of the players in the OPDL will be looking for a move to a university level of play. This means that vehicles like the Umbro Showcase will provide a platform for the players to be assessed over three days by university coaches.

What is special about the Umbro Showcase?

The Umbro Showcase has a long history of being a top quality Showcase Tournament in Ontario and has provided opportunities for hundreds of athletes to be scouted and offered opportunities at Canadian and American Universities.

Why did the OPDL get involved with the showcase now? 

The OPDL have got involved with the Umbro Showcase at the U15 Age Group to start the showcase opportunity. The standards that are set for the OPDL are now producing top level players for Provincial and National Teams, plus quality players for many universities.

What would you like to see in terms of talent development, by the time the first class of OPDL players go to university or college?

The Universities in Canada and the U.S. have now been educated on the standards and quality of the OPDL. They now understand the long term vision of the league and the quality of players that are being developed. As the OPDL rolls out further over the next two years and the players reach the U-17 age grouping, University coaches will have already been scouting these players for three years. This relationship building with the league will assist in the placement of players all over North America.

Gary Miller Bio 

Gary Miller is the Technical Director of the Ontario Soccer Association.

He started back in that position in April, 2015. He was the Technical Director with the OSA from 1985-1990.

Prior to that, he was the Schools Program Co-ordinator for the OSA from 1983-1985. In 1990, he joined the Canadian Soccer Association as the High Performance Director until 1992. In 1996, he started his own Academy, Bryst International, which was a founding member of the Soccer Academy Alliance of Canada (SAAC).