New vision for soccer in Canada

Katie Brickman
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Minor, if any, changes to local landscape

Soccer in this country is becoming a more unified concept.

Moose Jaw’s Mekonnen Cridland leap-frogs SUSC Titans goalkeeper Marcus Baxter to avoid colliding with him in Under-14 Premier Soccer League action last year..

On Tuesday, Canada Soccer unveiled its new technical development vision, Canada Soccer Pathway. Your Goals. Our Game.

This pathway will result in the coordinated identification and development of elite players through a structure that relies on regional training centres, scouting networks and professional clubs, while also providing a continual and aligned pipeline for all national teams.

“Canada Soccer is committed to increasing the technical ability of our players, from grassroots to national teams,” said Victor Montagliani, Canada Soccer president via a release. “The Canada Soccer Pathway will guide our investment in technical leadership and steward the development of Canada’s players, coaches and officials in a cohesive and deliberate manner on a national scale.”

The new vision is formed by three streams of play — recreational, competitive and EXCEL, the high performance arm of soccer in Canada.

“The Canada Soccer Pathway is a roadmap for players of all ages and abilities that want to play soccer at the recreational, competitive and EXCEL levels,” said Sylvie Béliveau, Canada Soccer long-term player development manager in a release. “It is built around the principles of long-term player development and encourages lifelong participation.”

Despite the changes being announced, the possible effect it could have in Moose Jaw is unknown at this point in time.

“Realistically, it is hard to say,” said John Shurniak, Moose Jaw Soccer Association office manager. “It will be interesting to see how they develop or what their plan is for these camps and how that will trickle down to SSA and ultimately to us. We are not exactly sure if there will be many changes, if any, to what we do.”

Canada Soccer did have the Wellness to World Cup model, but has reformatted to this pathway plan.

“From what I can tell, the steps are kind of the same for us. It is that competitive and EXCEL and ID camps. Even in Saskatchewan Soccer, they had similar camps that they host, especially indoors through the year,” explained Shurniak.

The majority of the soccer action in Moose Jaw is recreational and that will not change for the association.

“On the club level side, for 95 to 98 per cent of our players that register with us, there won’t be much of a change,” explained Shurniak. “The EXCEL here in Saskatchewan … they are looking at those that can play for the national team.  Realistically, in Saskatchewan, there aren’t too many of those players here.”

That EXCEL stream is designed to ensure more of Canada’s exceptional young players find their way to the top competitive levels.

The vision from Canada Soccer is to re-align all aspects of development and from one system that brings long-term success to soccer.

“I don’t think this is changing the landscape,” said Shurniak. “I think they are just tinkering more on the competitive and EXCEL side.”

With how the sport has exploded across the Canada, Shurniak is excited to see the national body acknowledge some changes are needed.

“We have a lot of players and even on the local level, it is about finding qualified and getting enough coaches certified to accommodate the large number of players,” he said. “It is nice to see on the national level that they are taking it seriously and they are tinkering with it to make it better.”

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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