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The OPDL Spotlight Series - An Introduction

By OSA News, 05/08/16, 5:45PM EDT


Launched in 2014 with the 2001 age group, the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) is one of the province's first standards-based, youth high performance programs that combines top level competition with high performance training standards. To understand the talent, expertise, and dedication it takes to run or participate in an OPDL program, this news series will shine a light on OPDL behind-the-scenes news, and more importantly, the 21 License Holders that bring the program to life.

This is the OPDL Spotlight Series – Week 1, featuring OSA Staff Gabriel Assis and Khanh Be

1. What is the OPDL Spotlight Series?

KB: The OPDL Spotlight Series is a weekly blog feature that will be released via the OSA newsletter (are you a subscriber?) Meant to stretch out over the course of the 2016 OPDL season and beyond, the series will allow the OSA community to learn more about the 21 License Holders and how OPDL has positively impacted their program. In addition to weekly License Holder features, we plan on sharing OPDL-specific news regarding concussion research, match official development, fitness testing and more.

This week Gabe and I will focus on some basics, including the incredible Kick-Off we recently had over the May 7th and 8th weekend. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see Q&A’s from OPDL coaches, players, match officials TD’s and administrators - all giving you an inside look into the OPDL program.

2. What exactly is a License Holder?

GA: A License Holder is an organization selected through the OPDL Selection and Assessment process to operate for a two-year term in the OPDL program. License Holders are reviewed and assessed annually and agreement can be renewed at the end of each term. These organizations have met a variety of technical, organizational and facilities standards demonstrating their ability to develop players to high standards of excellence.

3. In simpler terms, what is the OPDL?

KB: If we had to define the OPDL, we’d say: “The OPDL is the leading player development stream for youth in Ontario, acting as the foremost pathway of training in order to ascend to the next level.” But again, what does that really mean? OPDL means you take the most committed youth athletes, the ones that are willing to put in more hours and more training, in order to become better. Not so coincidentally, these in turn are the athletes more likely to make Provincial Teams, National Teams, college/university teams, or even professional teams. You simply have the best standards (in coaching, officiating and administration) ensuring the best development environment for young, talented soccer players.

4. How was the kick-off of the third season of the OPDL?

GA: The 2016 season kicked off with 50 games across two central venues, Queens University and the OSA. The weekend was full of excitement (and some interesting weather), and players were happy to be back on the field, demonstrating great enthusiasm. OSA staff, including OPDL Venue Coordinators, Match Officials Mentors and scouts were pleased with the action over the two days.

5. What are the goals for the program in the 2016 season?

GA: The Values of the OPDL focus on the development of players, coaches, match officials, facilities and the overall structure of the License Holders. Our action plan for 2016 includes stronger marketing strategy, improved capability for License Holders and OSA staff to identify, track and assess players and enhanced mentorship program for coaches and match officials. The overall scope of program has grown 46 per cent in 2016, creating challenges, but also opportunity for all involved to improve and develop

KB: In addition to seeing the growth and development of our 1,800+ OPDL athletes, we want to grow the program to become more recognizable as the foremost development program in youth soccer, in not only Ontario, but across the country. Tune in to the OPDL Spotlight Series on a weekly basis, and learn more about the faces and voices of this program that make it so special.

Gabriel Assis

Gabriel oversees the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL), working closely with OPDL License Holders to provide appropriate environments for the development of athletes through extensive Club support, including technical and ancillary support systems. His goal is to enable License Holders to improve and sustain the implementation of standards based programs.

Khanh Be

As the new Marketing Manager of the OSA, Khanh has been continually learning about and understanding the scope and value of OPDL. Her vision for OPDL marketing echoes those of the many License Holders and OPDL participants: to simply make people aware of the incredible talent and expertise found in the program.