The Holiday season is upon us. Such is the time for enjoying family and friends – even for us self-loathing Canadian soccer supporters. As we are fully aware, fixing Canadian soccer is no small task. Years of poor decisions and ineptitude have put us way behind in our confederation and the rest of the world. There were many who were working against the system, instead of for it. That being said, a great number of good people have been promoted or have come aboard, and are doing the right thing for the game in our country.
They are burdened with a gargantuan job – one that must be approached on many fronts. This will involve an abundance of resources, numerous people, and lots of time. There will have to be a lot of networking, self advocacy, and patience in this process for it to reach its greatest potential. What I have decided to do is put together a holiday wishlist, one that occupies the dreams and fantasies of every CanMNT supporter. For it to become real, it will have to be done in Canada, The United States, and globally. Here are some of the ways it could be approached.
At Home (Canada)
Long-Term Player Development (LTPD) is the key to grassroots success. If all clubs are working from the same curriculum, then we will have a better chance of reaching our objectives. Just like any educational goal, your learners must be given clear and concise standards to meet, and the teachers must use everything at their disposal to get them there.
The Canadian Premier League (CPL) will also have a massive role. Filling the missing gap in the developmental pathway will give our young players the opportunity to continue their soccer journey. Too many are lost or abandoned once they reached adulthood. The pipeline needs to be expanded.
Next Door (United States)
Toronto FC’s success in winning the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup were momentous achievements and will inspire many young Canadians to take up the game, if they already haven’t. But we must remember that the Champions League positions they bring are for American clubs only. But the real issue with our neighbours to the south is not that.
All Canadians playing in MLS should count as domestics, not just youngsters affiliated with the Generation Adidas program, MLS Academies, or a select number of approved youth clubs. This will be especially important when the CPL starts to unearth diamonds in the rough that will eventually want to have MLS as an option to further their careers.
Anywhere Possible (Globally)
We must try to uncover talent anywhere conceivable. Canadian passports can be found in the weirdest places, especially with the demographics of our population becoming more diverse. Let’s try to keep tabs on everybody who has a passport, and check in on their progress regularly. This type of global thinking must also be used when potentially welcoming new Canadians into the fold. Not all new discoveries will be within our borders.
In addition to playing more friendlies during international breaks, we must try to play as many of them as we can in hostile environments. Exposing our players to difficult away conditions (climate, altitude, poor pitch surfaces, and intimidating crowd support) can only help. It will make our group more battle hardened, and increase the likelihood of success when these games matter the most. I think we all know what matches I’m referring to.
This isn’t a plan by any means. Nor is it all and everything that we should be doing. There are many other things which need to be done as well. People way smarter than I are probably crafting some structured blueprints and creative ways to improve our game that we haven’t even thought about. All this is, is a reminder that this is a task which has multiple fronts and many locations – a wishlist per se. No idea is bad. The more discussion we have, the more we will learn. New ideas will spawn from different conversations. Just as long as we have the same goal.
Hopefully Santa will notice that us Canadian fans have been really good this year.
By William Jamieson