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Unnamed Trialist

Canada Fails for Same Reason as USA Did

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After being pleased the USA is out (I prefer all direct rivals to fail, and distant ones I care less about), I have been listening to a number of rants and complaints and talk-show debates in the US. 

Many of the points made perfect sense and absolutely describe the same problems we have. For the US, they get over them, normally. In Canada, we do not. But the reasons for failure are the same. Below are a few links, especially the T Twellman rant which is well thought out in all his rage. And Cowherd ends up repeating his premise, because it is the best argument. 

1-No urgency and no accountability. You can fail and no one cares. No one demands anything of you, and the whole system can coast, players included. No fear of failure as it does not matter. Starting at the top, and working our way down. Even in MLS: most teams are not worth watching and put a deficient product on the field. And they get away with it. CSA: no one cares, they are a bunch of fat-asses squandering generation after generation.

2-No passion for the game amongst kids, no playing in the streets and for fun and between friends. Only playing at practice. No real soccer culture at heart. Only at a distance, in abstract, buying your Euro-team shirt, a poster, but no understanding of the game, no tension when playing. Softness overall.

3-Pay to play. The no. 1 horror story in Canada as well. We have a system where soccer vultures prey on unsuspecting families who are able to be conned into paying thousands a year to have their kid practice with a bunch of guys who have credentials, usually. Credentials, but poor ethics. Kids want to be soccer players, and the only solution parents have is to dish out money. They do not have lower cost options in their neighbourhoods, and if anyone were to set one up, they'd be chased out of town by the soccer vulture capitalists. Do not expect success when you have monetized the game at the youth level. The system does nothing to weed these abuses out. I personally find this disgusting, but it is the CSA and the provincial federation's fault. They are pandering to money interests and there is no way kids without income can play, compete, show themselves to be deserving, and work their way up.

This is easy to solve: sanction any team meeting minimum standards, and have them all pay in federated leagues. Like the world over. The best rise to the top. The best attract better players. When clubs not charging the most, charging less, win over the expensive ones, parents will say: I am making a bad investment, I am going to change. But the rich clubs and sporting directors and coaches have no interest in allowing their deficiencies to be exposed. So they have to be forced to.

 

Edited by Unnamed Trialist

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Even before the U.S.'s somewhat unexpectedly dropping their last game, Simon Kuper (of Soccernomics fame)  wrote on the issue of U.S. soccer needing a reboot. He places a lot of weight on the idea that soccer winners all come from countries that neighbour one another.  There is a sort of density of soccer culture that leads to increased creativity, player development, etc, and thereby ensuring that the list of best soccer nations remains unchanged. It is an interesting consideration from a CMNT point of view. Perhaps we should be cheering on the successes of the U.S. (not going to happen), as their success will raise the bar from our program.

I don't agree with everything that he says as he seems to discount one of the premises of Soccernomics - that sheer size matters, to argue that regionalism is more important.  I would say that part of the issue, and one we are familiar with in Canada, is that a soccer culture takes time to develop.  While a Man City or a PSG can buy the best players and quickly join the elite, a soccer nation takes time.  Having a great national team, requires having strong participation, and strong athletic and coaching infrastructure.  Any country can develop a one-off great player, but you also need a really good supporting cast, and that does not happen over-night - no matter how much investment you throw into it.  We are not building a club to compete with other top clubs - we are building a national program from the ground up.  That means having the right infrastructure in place at every stage of development.  

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Interesting stuff but Twellman seems to me to be blaming Americana arrogance more than anything for their failure to qualify and I agree with that as a reason (arrogance leading to complacency - hence starting an aging Tim Howard in goal who doesn't move his feet anywhere near as quickly now as he should have or once did).

But I think we have the opposite problem here and I think Zambrano senses it too based on his earlier comments. Perhaps the US is too arrogant, but at the same time we are not arrogant enough - having more of a self-belief that we can qualify or succeed in tournaments. Not that I want blind arrogance, perhaps confidence is a better word but it is sometimes difficult to separate the two.

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9 minutes ago, Gian-Luca said:

But I think we have the opposite problem here and I think Zambrano senses it too based on his earlier comments. Perhaps the US is too arrogant, but at the same time we are not arrogant enough - having more of a self-belief that we can qualify or succeed in tournaments. Not that I want blind arrogance, perhaps confidence is a better word but it is sometimes difficult to separate the two.

I think it's more of a mental toughness, coping with adversity, handling the pressure.  Ironically, the ESPN FC tv roundtable really questioned the mental toughness of the US team throughout the Hex as well as alluding to the arrogance of the program.

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I think part of the arrogance Twellman is talking about is the kind built right into the system.  A belief that eveything is great, USA colleges are churning out MLS players and our system doesnt need to be changed. We won the gold cup, always get to the WC etc etc.  From the US brass right on down to your average outlaw fan.   At least in Canada we know things are not working, even if we cant seem to figure out how to fix things.  

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1 hour ago, Bison44 said:

At least in Canada we know things are not working, even if we cant seem to figure out how to fix things.  

Bison, your quote is perfect! But sometimes I wondering if the CSA knows it's not working though. I know us fans know it's not working. Only thing is  US fans are pissed and now know the truth about their problem and they have become an embarrassment,  you watch huge changes are going to come with the US men's national team. Americans don't like to be embarrassed in sports. But Here in Canada it's not working, well let's keep doing the same and hope for better.

US men's program -  arrogance 

Canada's men's program -  incompetence (the CSA side)

There are tons of problems  the CSA has had and still does, but for me the one that kills me the most. From 2003-2013 - for 10 years ! Canada has had only had one  professional manager at the helm, and he was Frank Yallop. 

* Colin Miller become a professional manager in 2012

i hope OZ is the man that changes Canada soccer , he seems to be doing a good job as of right now and I hope the incompetent CSA doesn't get in his way. This is our chances to become a top team in Concacaf. 

Also I hope the CSA start investing in some more games and bring in some professional Managers for the U17 and U20 teams. 

Edited by SpecialK

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18 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

 

1-No urgency and no accountability. You can fail and no one cares. No one demands anything of you, and the whole system can coast, players included. No fear of failure as it does not matter. Starting at the top, and working our way down. Even in MLS: most teams are not worth watching and put a deficient product on the field. And they get away with it. CSA: no one cares, they are a bunch of fat-asses squandering generation after generation.

I hate to say it but it's obvious, and was proven, the system is corrupt and probably still is.

These North American leagues and federations are rigged so everyone makes money and the powerful ones never lose and come out on top.  Canada is just a whipping boy and doesn't make the federation lots of money in soccer so they're relegated to bitch status, lower tier on the scale, so they should just shut up, know their role, and be happy with their crumbs, IE: 10 WC matches, 1 Gold Cup match, Women's WC, and FIFA U21. Just make us money and shut it.

On the organization itself. Put it this way. Do you know people at work who put themselves first rather than help others in your company succeed or develop or get opportunities to grow?

This is basically how it is in the soccer world in Canada: "screw results, Im just looking out for number one, me. I don't care about results. Besides nobody cares anyways and we all know our role. I got my salary, some payouts on the side, some bonuses and perks to big events and complete job security. Nobody cares about soccer in Canada and if we screw up. Success would just cause ripples and friction with our friends."

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19 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

 

1-No urgency and no accountability. You can fail and no one cares. No one demands anything of you, and the whole system can coast, players included. No fear of failure as it does not matter. Starting at the top, and working our way down. Even in MLS: most teams are not worth watching and put a deficient product on the field. And they get away with it. CSA: no one cares, they are a bunch of fat-asses squandering generation after generation.

I hate to say it but it's obvious, and was proven, the system is corrupt and probably still is. These North American leagues and federations are rigged so everyone makes money and the powerful ones never lose and come out on top.  Canada is just a whipping boy and doesn't make the federation lots of money in soccer so they're relegated to bitch status, lower tier on the scale, so they should just shut up, know their role, and be happy with their crumbs, IE: 10 WC matches, 1 Gold Cup match, Women's WC, and FIFA U21. Just make us money and shut it.

On the organization itself. Put it this way. Do you know people at work who put themselves first rather than help others in your company succeed or develop or get opportunities to grow? This is basically how it is in the soccer world and CSA: "screw results, Im just looking out for number one, me. I don't care about results. Besides nobody cares anyways and we all know our role. I got my salary, some payouts on the side, some bonuses and perks to big events and complete job security. Nobody cares about soccer in Canada and if we screw up. Success would just cause ripples and friction with our friends."

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Responding to G-Ls comments about arrogance, we could take it either way. Either Canada trying to badly follow the US is equally arrogant, assuming the US model is better than any other. Or we are arrogant in our way too, thinking we are fine and not dealing with our longstanding failure to not qualify for the WC.

After all, objectively, they are upset about a glitch and that is not arrogance in fact, it is dealing face to face with the problem. It could be a form of humility, depending where it takes them.

Meanwhile, we have a chronic ailment, and make no effort to treat is properly. So we are even more arrogant, you could argue, we think we are above it. It is like someone who has a viral disease that could be treated, and we just pretend it'll some day go away. And meanwhile it ends up really screwing up the quality of this person's life for decades, and mostly unnecessarily.

 

Edited by Unnamed Trialist

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I don't think Canada is making no effort to treat our chronic ailment. In terms of SpecialK's point about professional coaches, our hires since 2013 have been professional coaches in Floro and Zambrano. In recent years we have seen the founding of PLSQ and L1O and at least an attempt at a league in BC, although that one didn't materialize. And of course the big work in progress is the CPL. I would also say Jason DeVos' appointment as Director of Development is a sign that we are making an effort to improve, even if that appointment hasn't seemed to result in any obvious improvements as of yet.

We are trying, it's just that we had so little, and improvement won't happen over night.

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20 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

3-Pay to play. The no. 1 horror story in Canada as well. We have a system where soccer vultures prey on unsuspecting families who are able to be conned into paying thousands a year to have their kid practice with a bunch of guys who have credentials, usually. Credentials, but poor ethics. Kids want to be soccer players, and the only solution parents have is to dish out money. They do not have lower cost options in their neighbourhoods, and if anyone were to set one up, they'd be chased out of town by the soccer vulture capitalists. Do not expect success when you have monetized the game at the youth level. The system does nothing to weed these abuses out. I personally find this disgusting, but it is the CSA and the provincial federation's fault. They are pandering to money interests and there is no way kids without income can play, compete, show themselves to be deserving, and work their way up.

This is easy to solve: sanction any team meeting minimum standards, and have them all [play] in federated leagues. Like the world over. The best rise to the top. The best attract better players. When clubs not charging the most, charging less, win over the expensive ones, parents will say: I am making a bad investment, I am going to change. But the rich clubs and sporting directors and coaches have no interest in allowing their deficiencies to be exposed. So they have to be forced to.

Agreed that pay-to-play is a huge problem for the development of the game, but the situation is much more nuanced than people recognize.  The following drive the price of youth soccer in this country:

  1. Training/competition facilities
  2. Training/competition equipment (including uniforms)
  3. Wages for referees
  4. Wages for coaches
  5. Club infrastructure
  6. District/Provincial/National association dues
  7. League fees (which are really just a combination of (1) and (3))

(1) is a huge component which is unlikely to go away (see below). I'd guess at least 40% of the cost comes directly from that, particular if you are running at all in the winter. (2) is probably a little too high, but not really a huge component. (4) has been driven higher by for-profit outfits (I'm eschewing the term "academies") which sort of relates to a lack of soccer culture of people who will do it for the love of the game.

It is troublesome to compare to the European free/near-free model since their recreation structure is completely different. Note that pay-to-play is not exclusive to soccer, every youth sport in Canada costs in the thousands range at the elite level. The reason (I believe) is that amateur clubs are heavily subsidized in Europe. One could argue that not subsidizing clubs is a good thing since the government should be spending money on schools and hospitals, but I'll leave that for another debate.

Furthermore, in Europe facilities are either there for generations, or allotted to clubs by developers. In North America, municipalities/school boards typically own the facilities and rent them out at a fixed rate to whomever bids (individuals, sport clubs, etc.). This also results in a great deal of overlap for each sport - consider youth basketball where you have clubs, schools, and community centres running programs.

There is a cost floor in the current infrastructure that no open system will resolve. You can try to cross-subsidize (charge more for house league so that the elite programs are free), but now you are creating a barrier at the youngest ages since all players begin with house league. Picking some high standard (say OPDL or SAAC - although SAAC doesn't require a girls program), I have not seen any program which costs less than $2000. If the disparity was between $500 and $5000, maybe an open system would make a difference, but it is really more like $3000 vs $4000, so I don't see that driving much.

In fact, because the soccer culture is so immature, some parents don't put much of stake in the league, but rather in (often empty) promises by coaches and other representatives that they can send your son on trial to some European club or get them a scholarship. Consider FCBEscola Toronto which doesn't play in any league (although they begin in CAF this winter) but still manages to get parents to pay $5K/year!

Something that may help is better enforcement of the payment of the solidarity contribution from transfer fees. This could be a source of income and could incentivize clubs to promote development of their players and send them off to bigger and better things. Amateur clubs in Canada do not typically (OPDL and some other setups excluded) "sign" players to a contract. I think this is partly due a sense that players typically want to be free to switch clubs, but I'm not sure.

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1 hour ago, Saviola7 said:

Agreed that pay-to-play is a huge problem for the development of the game, but the situation is much more nuanced than people recognize.  The following drive the price of youth soccer in this country:

  1. Training/competition facilities
  2. Training/competition equipment (including uniforms)
  3. Wages for referees
  4. Wages for coaches
  5. Club infrastructure
  6. District/Provincial/National association dues
  7. League fees (which are really just a combination of (1) and (3))

(1) is a huge component which is unlikely to go away (see below). I'd guess at least 40% of the cost comes directly from that, particular if you are running at all in the winter. (2) is probably a little too high, but not really a huge component. (4) has been driven higher by for-profit outfits (I'm eschewing the term "academies") which sort of relates to a lack of soccer culture of people who will do it for the love of the game.

It is troublesome to compare to the European free/near-free model since their recreation structure is completely different. Note that pay-to-play is not exclusive to soccer, every youth sport in Canada costs in the thousands range at the elite level. The reason (I believe) is that amateur clubs are heavily subsidized in Europe. One could argue that not subsidizing clubs is a good thing since the government should be spending money on schools and hospitals, but I'll leave that for another debate.

Furthermore, in Europe facilities are either there for generations, or allotted to clubs by developers. In North America, municipalities/school boards typically own the facilities and rent them out at a fixed rate to whomever bids (individuals, sport clubs, etc.). This also results in a great deal of overlap for each sport - consider youth basketball where you have clubs, schools, and community centres running programs.

There is a cost floor in the current infrastructure that no open system will resolve. You can try to cross-subsidize (charge more for house league so that the elite programs are free), but now you are creating a barrier at the youngest ages since all players begin with house league. Picking some high standard (say OPDL or SAAC - although SAAC doesn't require a girls program), I have not seen any program which costs less than $2000. If the disparity was between $500 and $5000, maybe an open system would make a difference, but it is really more like $3000 vs $4000, so I don't see that driving much.

In fact, because the soccer culture is so immature, some parents don't put much of stake in the league, but rather in (often empty) promises by coaches and other representatives that they can send your son on trial to some European club or get them a scholarship. Consider FCBEscola Toronto which doesn't play in any league (although they begin in CAF this winter) but still manages to get parents to pay $5K/year!

Something that may help is better enforcement of the payment of the solidarity contribution from transfer fees. This could be a source of income and could incentivize clubs to promote development of their players and send them off to bigger and better things. Amateur clubs in Canada do not typically (OPDL and some other setups excluded) "sign" players to a contract. I think this is partly due a sense that players typically want to be free to switch clubs, but I'm not sure.

Top quality post, I learnt a lot.

About the cost of academies. In Spain the average a player will pay to play is about 50 euros a month for 8-9 months of the year. Clothing with club logos, including winter jacket, etc, might cost about 200 euros in total. So that is pushing 1000 Canadian, much less, but not free by any means. Most clubs also give players grants. When I coached I had a good keeper, from a Dominican family, who couldn't pay. But was ashamed to say so. The club would have let him play for free, but his parents would not show up at the club to say hi and get the grant for him. But maybe 10-15% get discounts or even play for free. So it is not high cost versus nothing, it is high versus reasonable.

A couple more things. First, facilities.

Where I am, in Spain, there are a lot of municipal facilities, which now basically means field turf put in over the last 10-15 years at half a million euros a shot. Public funding. I bet there is one field for every 20,000 inhabitants or something, maybe 60 fields. Almost all are public and have up to 3 clubs playing on them, all renting the facilities, arguing over scheduling. Rarely is there only one club on a field, with its exclusive clubhouse and all. How is this possible? Basically, that there is a long history of these fields being around since the 1910s and 1920s, dirt pitches but walled off, and the clubs too, and so you can't just ignore them. They complain constantly of the rental costs. 

In Canada we have plenty of parks, but as we all know the fields are not fully fenced in, grass is expensive, and it cannot be used for 6 training sessions a day and full game load weekends. Field turf is coming in, but at a much slower rate, and I think it even costs more to install in Canada. So you are right, facility costs are higher in Canada.

Next, coaching. 

No question that people coach in Europe, and in South America, for very little money, and that it is often a side job with a minor impact on anyone's economy. A couple hundred euros a month. Even sporting directors of an amateur academy with 25 teams in all ages may only make the equivalent of 25,000 euros a year.

In Canada, there is a tendency to believe, and perhaps rightly, that if you are trained in something you should get a reasonable wage. But one thing we are missing: in Europe many twenty-somethings coaching are doing so speculatively. First, they are players and think that when they stop they might want to continue in football. Then, because there is pro-releg, they know if they do good job other clubs will come knocking and offer them better deals, or their own clubs will "promote" them internally. So they are also in a speculative mode in regards to better pay, higher level of competition, older players. This keeps the cost of coaching down. Ironically, in Canada, where often a coach''s ability is never tested as the team does not play in a fully competitive environment, he can often make more totally undeservedly. That can never happen in Europe.

Dues, and fees.

Just to say, that these are a point of contention for all clubs everywhere as well. They feel the regional or national federation is sucking them dry with fees of all sorts, and complain that very little gets back to them. Part of this has been solved by some mechanisms, like sports pools, and by the national federation and regional federations organizing matches. This is what makes no sense in Canada. The CSA could have played that last El Salvador game in Regina, for example, and part of the benefits could have gone to Sask Soccer, trickling down to the clubs. And so on. Just like your Soccer Nova Scotia could try to do a provincial all-star match and bring in a club to try to make money, or host an international match. They absolutely have to do this to strengthen local sports in general, lotteries and friendlies, as key funding boosts, to soften the blow of high fees and dues, and raise training levels for coaches, refs, club managers.

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13 hours ago, BringBackTheBlizzard said:

Suspect he means that was when he was the head coach at a professional level of the game, but he was doing that with Hamilton Accies in Scotland as far back as 1999.

I wasn't talking about Colin Miller. I was curious about his statement about Yallop being the only professional manager between 2003-13, which is of course incorrect as usual.

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2 hours ago, jpg75 said:

I wasn't talking about Colin Miller. I was curious about his statement about Yallop being the only professional manager between 2003-13, which is of course incorrect as usual.

Colin Miller - was a player manager at Hamilton Academical F.C while at 4th ter in Scotland for one year

Stephen Hart - Halifax King of Donair amateur team and Saint Mary's Huskies women's soccer team

Dale Mitchell - 86ers reserves squad and Vancouver Whitecaps only 1 season ( USSF Division 2 Professional League)

Tony Fonseca - Vancouver Whitecaps (USSF Division 2 Professional League) only 2 years.

So my question is were they  qualified to coach a national team ?

10 years wasted !

 Amateur coaches ! 

 

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22 minutes ago, SpecialK said:

Dale Mitchell - 86ers reserves squad and Vancouver Whitecaps for 2 seasons( USSF Division 2 Professional League)

 Amateur coaches ! 

 

No, if a man coached professionally as a head coach for 2 seasons he was a "professional manager". Now you can say he wasn't a very good coach and i would agree with you, but your statement is incorrect.

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On 10/12/2017 at 11:31 PM, Gian-Luca said:

Interesting stuff but Twellman seems to me to be blaming Americana arrogance more than anything for their failure to qualify and I agree with that as a reason (arrogance leading to complacency - hence starting an aging Tim Howard in goal who doesn't move his feet anywhere near as quickly now as he should have or once did).

But I think we have the opposite problem here and I think Zambrano senses it too based on his earlier comments. Perhaps the US is too arrogant, but at the same time we are not arrogant enough - having more of a self-belief that we can qualify or succeed in tournaments. Not that I want blind arrogance, perhaps confidence is a better word but it is sometimes difficult to separate the two.

I might parse that out a bit. I understand what you are trying to say.  I think there is a difference between arrogance and an on field confidence to take the shot or do something unreserved.   There is the arrogance of entitlement of the elite player and the cavalier take no prisoners arrogance on the field we lack.   They are not the same thing. 

We have a serious arrogance problem at the elite academy level, of the bad kind.  More than one player has burned bridges that haven't even been built yet. 

 

  

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13 hours ago, socceronly said:

...


We have a serious arrogance problem at the elite academy level, of the bad kind.  

...

 

  

Brother, you said it.  Wouldn't limit the criticism to the players either.

Hockey Brat syndrome less the pucks. 

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21 hours ago, socceronly said:

We have a serious arrogance problem at the elite academy level, of the bad kind.  More than one player has burned bridges that haven't even been built yet.  

One of the problems is that parents who pay (tens of) thousands of dollar into their child's player development  expect (or perhaps a better word is, demand) a return for their investment in some form or another.  I think that contributes to the problem even more.

People should read Selling the Dream by Campbell and Parcels.  Though about hockey, it can easily be applied to soccer in this country.

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46 minutes ago, BearcatSA said:

One of the problems is that parents who pay (tens of) thousands of dollar into their child's player development  expect (or perhaps a better word is, demand) a return for their investment in some form or another.  I think that contributes to the problem even more.

People should read Selling the Dream by Campbell and Parcels.  Though about hockey, it can easily be applied to soccer in this country.

Can you summarize the strongest points that can benefit soccer in Canada and take your time if it will be a long post....

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I think it touches much more about awareness of the pitfalls as opposed to magic bullet solutions.  But I believe that awareness is very important, nonetheless. 

I think the biggest thing is to recognize that after a certain age if you are pumping large sums of money into your kid's youth sport's passion you need to change the end game priorities for you and your kid.  If the kid loves to play and still carries that intrinsic fire for being part of the Whitecaps youth set up somewhere in Canada, for instance, fill your boots.  If the extrinsic goals are still prominent in some way, especially for you as a parent (say, at the minimum, a full ride college scholarship somewhere), be prepared for the same let down as if you bought a bunch of losing Lotto Max tickets. 

Question:  do private academies subsidize kids who clearly have the talent but not the financial means to attend?  This isn't rhetorical; I just really want to know if that happens and how often it happens. 

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On 10/13/2017 at 2:32 PM, Saviola7 said:

Agreed that pay-to-play is a huge problem for the development of the game, but the situation is much more nuanced than people recognize.  The following drive the price of youth soccer in this country:

  1. Training/competition facilities
  2. Training/competition equipment (including uniforms)
  3. Wages for referees
  4. Wages for coaches
  5. Club infrastructure
  6. District/Provincial/National association dues
  7. League fees (which are really just a combination of (1) and (3))

(1) is a huge component which is unlikely to go away (see below). I'd guess at least 40% of the cost comes directly from that, particular if you are running at all in the winter. (2) is probably a little too high, but not really a huge component. (4) has been driven higher by for-profit outfits (I'm eschewing the term "academies") which sort of relates to a lack of soccer culture of people who will do it for the love of the game.

It is troublesome to compare to the European free/near-free model since their recreation structure is completely different. Note that pay-to-play is not exclusive to soccer, every youth sport in Canada costs in the thousands range at the elite level. The reason (I believe) is that amateur clubs are heavily subsidized in Europe. One could argue that not subsidizing clubs is a good thing since the government should be spending money on schools and hospitals, but I'll leave that for another debate.

Furthermore, in Europe facilities are either there for generations, or allotted to clubs by developers. In North America, municipalities/school boards typically own the facilities and rent them out at a fixed rate to whomever bids (individuals, sport clubs, etc.). This also results in a great deal of overlap for each sport - consider youth basketball where you have clubs, schools, and community centres running programs.

There is a cost floor in the current infrastructure that no open system will resolve. You can try to cross-subsidize (charge more for house league so that the elite programs are free), but now you are creating a barrier at the youngest ages since all players begin with house league. Picking some high standard (say OPDL or SAAC - although SAAC doesn't require a girls program), I have not seen any program which costs less than $2000. If the disparity was between $500 and $5000, maybe an open system would make a difference, but it is really more like $3000 vs $4000, so I don't see that driving much.

In fact, because the soccer culture is so immature, some parents don't put much of stake in the league, but rather in (often empty) promises by coaches and other representatives that they can send your son on trial to some European club or get them a scholarship. Consider FCBEscola Toronto which doesn't play in any league (although they begin in CAF this winter) but still manages to get parents to pay $5K/year!

Something that may help is better enforcement of the payment of the solidarity contribution from transfer fees. This could be a source of income and could incentivize clubs to promote development of their players and send them off to bigger and better things. Amateur clubs in Canada do not typically (OPDL and some other setups excluded) "sign" players to a contract. I think this is partly due a sense that players typically want to be free to switch clubs, but I'm not sure.

Great post.  I just want to pick up on your subsidization point.  I am not sure how directly cubs are subsidized in Europe.  In my very limited knowledge of Dutch amateur soccer, much of the teams survive on sponsor dollars.  That said, they pay significantly less in facility costs and therefore their overall costs are lower.

Facilities would be an indirect subsidy and this is where Canadian vs. European sports culture differ.  Canadian municipalities choose to build hockey arena's, European's are more likely to invest in soccer pitches.  How a 12-year old playing AA hockey only pays $2000 a year is beyond me.  One would thing the facility costs of arenas, including maintaining ice, running the facility for long hours 7-days/week, zambonis, energy costs for maintaining cool temperatures (even when it is in the double digits outside) would make hockey prohibitively expensive.  Yet you are likely to pay twice as much to put a 12-year old in swimming or gymnastics.  Neither of those sports require the same amount of equipment or travel costs as hockey does.  Even the cost of maintaining a swimming pool can't be more than running a hockey arena (you only have to maintain a 50m pool at 22C - you don't have to worry about keeping a surface frozen and the air temperature cool). 

With soccer, there tends to be far fewer quality pitches then ice arenas.  Team's either pay more (and drive further) to get those few pitches - many of which are privately run, and/or they rent the crappy grass/dirt fields from the school boards or municipalities.  Municipalities have chosen where to put their sports and recreation budget, and that is to maintain ice arenas. It is nice that the Feds are building a outdoor skating rink on Parliament Hill, but does Ottawa really need another skating rink?

Obviously, I disagree with many municipalities willingness to eat the cost of ice arenas at the expense of other sports.  However, I have to give it to communities who maintain outdoor ice surfaces in winter.  Many parents are willing to volunteer to help maintain outdoor skating rinks throughout the winter.  This means kids can go down to their local park anytime they want to shoot a puck around.  At least in Ottawa, we do not see that type of commitment to soccer fields. Even if your local park has soccer nets, no parent volunteers to make sure that the pitch is playable, there is no summer equivalent of heated trailers for putting on cleats, or even any one trying to organize pickup games.  

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