100 Year Anniversary and a Humiliating ‘Birthday Cake’ of 8 -1 – Why Are We Celebrating?
By Jean Jacques Bosco
To be accurate, the Canadian Soccer Association existed long before 1912 – before then, the Ontario/ Quebec Soccer Associations and others existed, but there was no soccer presence on a national level.
Soccer has now grown into a major sport in Canada, especially in Vancouver. The sport is even played in the winter when it should instead be a spring or summer-only sport because of the weather in the city.
When I first came to Canada, I was astonished to see that soccer was played on every single street corner. Beside my house on Balaclava Park in the Dunbar area, fields were filled with children, youth, and adults playing soccer. I hadn’t seen this in any other country, and I was thrilled to watch them play.
However, the quality of their game play brought me to tears because the players and coaches I encountered did not know the game well. With my background in playing and teaching soccer, I decided to coach the U 15 West Point Grey Mustangs team as a volunteer coach. Once I was able to demonstrate my coaching abilities, coaching soccer became my full time job – it’s been my career for the past 13 years.
One must understand clearly that coaching soccer as an independent operator or business owner in Canada will not make you a great living. This is because our soccer society structure doesn’t leave any room for the success of independent operators. Most soccer development is in the hands of community soccer clubs.
Even if you get the chance to develop a soccer team of children that are 3-5 years old, they will eventually grow older and join community clubs at ages 6 and onwards. At this point, all community coaches want to get good players on their team so that their teams look good. It is also free-of-charge but no quality.
The sad news is that those boys and girls who leave soccer academies to join community soccer clubs will hardly improve their skills because of soccer coaching politics. For instance, children must play within their age group even if they are capable of playing at a higher level. For example, Riley and Matti attend JBST Soccer Academy and now have joined a local community club. They are ahead of others on their team and they score many goals playing together – because of this, their coach had to stop them from playing at the same time because it would inhibit their progress.
Canada is notorious for not developing high-profile soccer players on the national and international levels. This is evident in the country’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by losing 8 – 1 to Honduras. This is purely humiliating and implies that not much development has occurred in Canadian soccer in the last one hundred years.
How can we improve this situation? Dramatic events always bring good news. After Canada’s loss, the Canadian Soccer Association woke up and began looking for solutions to solve the decline of professional soccer in Canada. They have fired the coach of the men’s national team and appointed a Technical Development Director. Still, these improvements are only a single drop in a whole sea of problems.
Others have proposed alternate solutions to improve the Canadian soccer scene. Some support the idea of hiring experienced coaches from Latin countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and Latin America in order to avoid a monopoly of coaches with similar experience. Others favor developing young Canadian coaches through a structured European coaching system. There are other people who also think coaching should be limited to a renewable term of five years which will indicate whether changes to soccer development on a national level have been successful.
In conclusion, Canada should adopt three levels of soccer development. The first level should permit participative soccer for leisure soccer players. The second, more competitive level would exist to lead to the College and university or high school level of soccer in competitions. The last and most important level should include community professional clubs that will develop elite soccer players – these players will eventually fill the national soccer team and the international arena. Without this systematization, there is no way to realize a more professional soccer structure in Canada for another one hundred years from the present moment.