Five Year Plans… Never Easy

canada-soccerThe Canadian Soccer Association today unveiled their latest five year plan for 2014-2018 optimistically calling it “Leading A Soccer Nation.”

The document lays out four areas for focus:

  1. Technical Leadership
  2. World Class Performance
  3. Growth of the Game
  4. Governance

Director Nick Bontis, ” We decided on a brand new approach, a brand new process. A more inclusive approach. Three things we wanted for the document to inclusive, focused and simple and concise.”

The document achieves meets those three standards but going beyond that is going to take the kind of co-ordinated effort perhaps never before seen in Canadian soccer and maybe Canadian sport.

Under technical leadership some promising goals and developments for players and coaches including:

1.2 Fully implement a National Player Development Pathway that coordinates the identification and development of elite players…

1.3 Mandate minimum standards of age-appropriate coaching certification
for all levels through a rigorous and high-quality qualification and testing
curriculum – one that is both affordable and available across the country

1.6 Design and publish a national training curriculum with a universal
vocabulary and a developmental methodology that streamlines
technical progression with an adaptable and consistent style of play.

These are all reasonably sound objectives that all go hand in hand with one another – the oft delayed and even more often promised national curriculum has been given a 90 day deadline. Once it is in place work can begin in earnest on the other action items listed.

The second section looks to ensure ongoing support for our national team programs but also hints that Canadian League development will continue to be a priority.

2.1 Support the development of elite-level, semi-professional regional
leagues that provide a bridge between high-performance youth players and
national/professional team selection.

Development of leagues like Ontario’s League One are already under way and despite hiccups and delays will likely see the light of day in short order.  Nothing overly ambitious but something that does need solid execution.

Growth of the Game will be the section that is certain to grab a large part of the chatter due to this line.

3.4 Successfully prepare and submit a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The debate will rage right until the day the host is announced if the pursuit of this is a reasonable use of meagre resources. For me unless there is a large untapped source for those funds we’re not ready for this on either a macro or micro level. Some day yes.

The final section dealing with governance is where the real challenges to success or failure will lie on the path of success or failure for the document.  The key aspects goals being:

4.1 Lead a process that mandates the alignment of the governance
structures at the national and provincial/territorial levels of the
Association.

4.2 Lead a process that mandates the development of strategic priorities
at the provincial/territorial levels.

4.4 Build a national database of registered players, coaches, referees
and administrators with a unique ID card that is fully integrated with
provincial/territorial organizations, districts and clubs.

Mandating anything in Canadian soccer structure has never been easy, in fact with the existing structure it’s been nigh impossible but if, and it is the big if, Canada Soccer can implement these three key actions in section four there is a chance we may finally find our way out of the wilderness.

You can download the entire document here:

CanadaSoccer_StrategicPlan2014_2018_EN

Development, Opinion, The Powers That Be