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mmd

Academies or Regional or The OPDL

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Considering the price to participate in Ontario Soccer has gone up, what option or path should a young player take. I don't think there is a major difference as there once was. They all attend some type of tournaments, they all crown a champion, they all put many hours training and fitness, and they all have games that may take a couple of hours to get too. 

I think it depends on the coach and not the League they play in. 

What at do you think?

Edited by mmd

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(tl;dr: likely OPDL)

Well we've bantered about this a bit in previous threads, so I'll mostly rehash my position. For the sake of argument let's imagine a player who has significant talent, anywhere from NCAA scholarship/semi-pro to national team potential, in which case you "make it" when you attain that level. For a player with elite-level talent "making it" depends on 3 ingredients:

-Player Development (i.e., getting better)

-Exposure (i.e., getting opportunities to "make it")

-Luck (of which there is no accounting for)

Player development depends on quantity of training, quality of training, and quality of competition (~U12 and up). I've found little difference in the training that is happening for the top regional programs compared to academies and OPDL, both in quality and quantity.

Certainly for quality it will depend on the coach, but I'd argue you're more likely to have a good coach in OPDL since the licensing standards are higher. For academies there is no coaching requirement (although admittedly they often have impressive qualifications), for regional leagues, they require Learn to Train and the Soccer for Life, both of which you pass simply by showing up. Finally, for OPDL, they require National B (although I've heard teams getting away with not meeting this) which is a tested certification which you can fail.

For competition, it's rather tough to say. I suspect SAAC (academy) is pretty high as is OPDL (despite the detractors). Consider that TFC Academy teams play at their age group in OPDL and do not dominate (they sit 2nd and 3rd at U14 and U15 respectively). The regional leagues are almost certainly slightly below while the other academy league, CAF, I am completely unimpressed with save Epic FC.

On the exposure side, with regional leagues, you have to trust that your coach or club's TD is going to enter the team in showcase tournaments, call connections to arrange trials etc. The same is true for academies, but since they often want to represent players in the future, they are more motivated (and are not as distracted by other club matters). OPDL is directly scouted by the OSA and many OPDL teams go to showcase tournaments as well. Do you trust the TD of your academy/club more than the OSA? Maybe, maybe not.

Always keep in mind there are crap OPDL programs, just like there are crap academies and crap non-OPDL clubs. Excluding those, if cost is not a factor, I'd say OPDL then academy, then regional. If it is, OPDL then regional, then academy. OPDL seems to cost about as much as academy anyway.

Of course, at the end of the day, one should ask what's this all for. Both OPDL and academy are huge commitments, financially and time-wise. Given then fact that the odds of "making it" are so long, is it really worth sacrificing sending kids to summer camp or going on family road trips out west? I'd argue for all but the top 3 or so in each program, probably not.

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The Toronto FC teams all play up a year in the OPDL (as do their OYSL team).

From the friendly games I have seen, OPDL teams have struggled against strong regional teams.  Admittedly, this is a very small sample, because it seems that the OPDL clubs generally avoid non-OPDL teams.  Didn't the OSA recently lean on the Robbie organizers to avoid comparisons to SAAC teams and non-OPDL clubs?

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On June 6, 2016 at 0:00 PM, Saviola7 said:

 

Certainly for quality it will depend on the coach, but I'd argue you're more likely to have a good coach in OPDL since the licensing standards are higher. For academies there is no coaching requirement (although admittedly they often have impressive qualifications),

Where have you heard that academies don't have coaching requirements? I thought I remembered hearing OPDL created it's coaching standards based off of the high standards SAAC teams had created for themselves.

 

I've found this which suggests there are coaching licensing requirements in SAAC:

SAAC Minimum Licensing Requirements

Soccer Academy Alliance Canada endorses the following courses as minimum requirements for Academy team coaches:

Coaching Matrix

http://saac.ca/?link=coaching

 

Edited by maccaliam

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I stand corrected. A minor point is that that applies to SAAC academies. I can find no such requirement for CAF (the non-recognized brand of academies in the GTA which represent another 30 or so).

As for the competitiveness/results, I'd hold off conclusive judgement until the current crop of U12/U13s start getting going. I think there was a lot of skepticism and lack of buy-in for the current U14/U15s so their squads are slightly weaker. I took stock at the recent provincial selections for the Quebec vs. Ontario matches and see the table below for the results (this was specifically for non-TFC academy players):

  OPDL Regional Academy
U14G 18 1 3
U14B 14 3 5
U15G 19 4  
U15B 13 4 6
U16G n/a 20 1
U16B n/a 19 2

Granted there is OSA bias, but I don't think they are going to back down from OPDL, so you might as well go with it.

Finally, while ODPL and Academy cost about the same at least the money is (in principle) going back into the "system" rather than a private organisation (or worse, a corporate head office abroad).

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Don't kid yourself about money going back into the system necessarily.  I know of one club where one of the execs bills for his time (through a corp) and I would be very surprised if many/any private academy owners pull in what this guy does.  Could be the exception, but how would anyone really know?  While the club itself might be an NPO, nothing really prevents the club from paying significant amounts as salaries/management fees if the board approves it.

As for OPDL, it seems to me that in my city at least, fewer of the top U13 players this year moved to OPDL as compared to the first two years.  The strongest U13 team here far and away is a regional team.  I'd be interested in what is actually happening in the rest of the province though.

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On ‎2016‎-‎06‎-‎13 at 11:38 PM, Protega said:

As for OPDL, it seems to me that in my city at least, fewer of the top U13 players this year moved to OPDL as compared to the first two years.  The strongest U13 team here far and away is a regional team.  I'd be interested in what is actually happening in the rest of the province though.

I have also been told that some of the U15 OPDL teams that have versed their U15 Regional teams during training sessions, and actual scrimmages, have either tied or lost to their Clubs Regional Team. Also many boys that were in OPDL have left for their Regional squads.

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Hamilton United (OPDL licensee) has this comparison:

Programming Features for U13-U15 Hamilton 
United
Local 
Academies
Community 
Clubs
Organized League Season Length 6 months < 6 months (some 8 months) < 6 months (most 8 months)
Top Tier League Participation (OPDL/Regional) Yes NO Some Regional 
at U15
Training Season 11 Months 11 Months < 11 Months
3 Indoor Turf sessions weekly (Nov-April) Yes NO NO (rare)
Player Physiological Assessment Yes NO NO
Fieldside Athletic Trainer/First Responder at all sessions Yes NO NO
Winter Strength, Agility & Fitness Programming Yes Some Some
Winter and Summer Player Kit with 4 jerseys, suit, bag Yes NO (most have 3 jerseys and a bag) NO (most have 3 jerseys and a bag)
Tournament Travel & College Scouting Opportunities Yes Yes Yes
Off Season Exhibition Matches Yes Yes Yes
Provincial Identification * Yes NO NO
Player Evaluations > 3 per 
season
1-3 per 
season possible
Rare
Provincially Designed & Monitored Curriculum Yes NO NO
Provincially Monitored Coaching Yes NO (certifications are identical to OPDL for ORNCA - i.e., SAAC) NO (only Soccer for Life is required)
Cost of Participation (per season) $995 - $3295 $1500-$4500 $550-$1500 (up to $2000 if you play 8 months - see above)

* for 2016, the OSA restricts player entry into Provincial programs 
through OPDL Clubs only when within 100km of home

I've noted the corrections for the Peel/Halton area in italicized parentheses, but I still think OPDL comes out on top.

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2 hours ago, Offside said:

Can someone tell me if you are a tfc academy player, are you allowed to train with other clubs and teams the days you don't have practice with tfc? 

I can tell you that in the winter there was an indoor soccer team in my men's league that featured a player that is with TFC III at the viareggio cup right now (and he has played with TFC II as well).

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Yes but it's kids in all ages from tfc academy that play and train on other teams , how is that even aloud, but these kids are still at tfc, that's not right , parents from younger ages not happy with tfc training so they take their kids to train to other academies and clubs on the days they don't train with tfc. That's just totally not acceptable 

Edited by Offside

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I don't know precisely about what is permitted currently (I agree, it is crazy that one would train with TFC academy *and* some place else on off days).

Allegedly the vision for the future state is to leave kids with clubs up to U14 and call them in on a regular basis to train as an academy team. I've been told that right now they are not hesitant to cut kids and always select the best kids available. The clubs have been therefore complaining about sending kids to TFC only to have them cut and return after a few months. Given that uncertainty, it may be possible that parents are hedging their bets.

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10 hours ago, Offside said:

Yes but it's kids in all ages from tfc academy that play and train on other teams , how is that even aloud, but these kids are still at tfc, that's not right , parents from younger ages not happy with tfc training so they take their kids to train to other academies and clubs on the days they don't train with tfc. That's just totally not acceptable 

Why not? Kids and parents I have talked to at TFC don't get the personal feel. At local clubs they get direct attention, so why not. 

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1 hour ago, Offside said:

So why do these parents have their kids at tfc, just to say that their kids are there, not acceptable . Canada soccer issues, 

For one, it now could potentially make them domestics in MLS, which is the most obvious career path right now.

No matter what you think of TFC and it's development pathway, TFC on your resume is better than Woodbridge Strikers. 

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15 hours ago, Offside said:

Well you don't have to have tfc on your resume to make it on to a team

Sure you don't have to. You don't have to have a resume to get a job, but let me tell you, a good resume makes it much easier. Look at all the Manchester United grads that hang around picking up contracts. It's a good resume, even if the player is crap.

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I think they felt that since the average lifetime of a player in their system was 3 years, it was a waste of resources. Better to call in a larger group for occasional training.

I would suspect that they would just successively eliminate teams younger than Greg Vanney's kids (U11 currently).

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The new OSA publication on benefits of OSA membership refers to a "relationship with Ontario Soccer's new Ontario Academy Soccer League" - anyone know what this is exactly?  Is this SAAC, or will the OSA be running its own league for ORNCA academies?

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I don't have a kid that is of a youth soccer playing age, however, if I did and he was selected to play at TFC Academy It's a no brainer of course he goes and plays, the only thing we would have to pay for is the travel from home to practise in gas expense and the fact we live in the Toronto area is even better. It's a no brainer, even the travel expenses to tournaments like this Viareggio Tournament is covered, playing with an outside club or academy can cost you more than 5 grand or more a year. It's not even a discussion money wise.

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Can someone tell me which academy they would recommend that is good, been hearing about certain academies and the prices are crazy, also which league seems to be good since there is about 4 0r 5, like Saac, CAF, OPDL and now that new one OASL

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22 hours ago, 1996 said:

I don't have a kid that is of a youth soccer playing age, however, if I did and he was selected to play at TFC Academy It's a no brainer of course he goes and plays, the only thing we would have to pay for is the travel from home to practise in gas expense and the fact we live in the Toronto area is even better. It's a no brainer, even the travel expenses to tournaments like this Viareggio Tournament is covered, playing with an outside club or academy can cost you more than 5 grand or more a year. It's not even a discussion money wise.

The only thing is too many politics at tfc, with the coaches and they look for size 

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