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OSA President's Message: Governance Modernization

By OSA News, 06/05/15, 7:45PM EDT


With the outdoor season well underway across the province I wanted to connect with you to highlight some current initiatives and upcoming events. 

Governance Modernization

The governance renewal process has been ongoing in earnest since December of 2013. The OSA Board came together again this past weekend in a special meeting to discuss the potential framework for developing a new governing structure going forward. The Board will look at governance options that will ensure its focus in future will be on the Association's long-term strategic direction—not the day-to-day operations that are the responsibility of our professional staff.

As our new strategic plan is developed in 2015, part of the goal is not only to create alignment with the Canadian Soccer Association but over time with our districts and clubs as well. As the Association moves toward a more modern and efficient governance structure, by working together we can create a great environment for everyone that is part of the soccer experience. We all—the OSA board and staff, districts, clubs, coaches and parents—have a joint responsibility to make the game better.

There is much more to do but progress is being made.

Respect in Soccer

In meeting with parents, coaches and administrators across Ontario this spring, I've noted how many have spoken to me about the need to reinforce the values behind our "Respect in Soccer" program. An online Respect in Soccer pilot program for parents has been launched in the Durham district, which will serve to provide education and guidance in reinforcing appropriate parent behaviour. We will look for opportunities to expand the parent program in the months ahead.

It's easy to lapse and forget about the standards that need to be maintained when it comes to how we interact with one another. With that in mind, it is essential to continue to create and ensure a safe and respectful environment for players, coaches and match officials. There is no room for abuse or bullying in our sport—on or off the field of play. Coaches, and all of us as adults and parents, need to set an example.

Grassroots player development

Our grassroots programs are off to a great start again this year. From my recent travels and also based on the regular feedback I receive from our clubs, districts, coaches and parents, the continued shift of emphasis toward player development at those young ages is clear—and welcome. Our coaches are doing an excellent job and the change in approach and attitude is obvious on the field and on the sidelines. That said, our professional staff recognizes the capacity to deliver programs differs from club to club. There still needs to be a level of flexibility in the system as issues emerge to ensure clubs can respond appropriately and continue to offer a positive experience for all their players.

OPDL, Regional leagues and the Ontario Cup

The OPDL season for the U13 and U14 boys and girls has also kicked off. Travel for teams has been lessened this year, as clubs now are able to host up to seven home events while showcasing their players. Provincial staff is out supporting the OPDL and working with club coaches.

Now in its second year of operation, League1 Ontario has introduced a female division this season. From what I have already witnessed the quality of play in both leagues is something we can really be proud of. There is a lot of emerging talent in these leagues and it further demonstrates how important it was to launch League1 last year. Those talented individuals need a place to play.

Regional league play is up and running and another exciting summer of Ontario Cup action is in front of us, as we celebrate one hundred years of Ontario Cup history.

FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015, Men's Team and Pan Am Games

This historic World Cup event gets underway this Saturday as Canada hosts China in Edmonton. I have no doubt that our Canadian pride will be on display in Ottawa and throughout the tournament as supporters cheer on our national side during the Group Stage games in Edmonton and Montreal.

The Men's National team will be playing a 2018 World Cup qualifying game in Toronto on June 16th and a number of CONCACAF Gold Cup games will be played at the National Soccer Stadium (BMO field) in July.

Ontario also welcomes some of the finest amateur athletes in the world as the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games come to Toronto and Hamilton in July and August. All Pan Am Games soccer matches will be played at the CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium (Tim Hortons Field) in Hamilton. The Parapan Am Games soccer matches will be held in August at the University of Toronto's downtown campus.

A great summer ahead

It's a privilege as President of the Association to meet regularly with so many individuals across Ontario that care deeply about our sport. I appreciate hearing from you about ways we can improve the soccer experience. I hope to see as many of you as possible at a field near you over the course of the summer.

I wish each of you a healthy and enjoyable summer season. If you have any questions or concerns, as always, feel free to contact me.

Ron Smale