The Canadian Premier League is apparently on its way next year (2019) launching a new pathway for young talented Canadian soccer players. Even I am excited but cautious about this new league forming. Before this new option, players for numerous years basically HAD to play in the province's top league before moving onto a MLS Residency Team with the slim chance of cracking the reserves or A squad. Which means you have three options in the second biggest country in the world. To be specific, you had Whitecaps, Toronto, and Montreal pathways. Many athletes even to day avoid this "direction" & get privately trained in order to be sent to trials over seas. Now between a multitude of Academies opening up across the nation and many are quite decent, we now have: MLS, USL, CPL, European Leagues & Tiers, and University Varsity Teams across North America that the players finally have a respectful variety of choices and healthy options. If done right, this could be the beginning of the actual beginning for Canada. In my opinion, we haven't really begun yet because all this time we never knew what we were doing. I have always said, for soccer we are potentially the worst country per athlete ratio, resource ratio, and quality of POTENTIAL athletes ratio to ever play the game. Now for the first time ever, I can see a future for this country and the young players that play within it. Players now can visualize a tangible outlet, a actual pathway with a multitude of options besides three MLS squads that have their own HEAVY restrictions. It is an American League after all.
A pathway needs more then just an infrastructure but a culture to embrace a long term player development that believes in a "holistic" fashion. This H word is thrown around like candy these days with very few people that execute it properly or the way the top Europeans Clubs intend it. Players here still don't understand the game, in fact many still don't even watch soccer on television. They don't have favourite clubs or players and do not understand space, lines, angles, distance, timing or rhythm. For this country and its players to excel on the world stage and to finally be at par with Mexico and USA we need players to understand the game at en elite level, to be intelligent on and off the ball that can blend their intelligence with technical skill. We have athletes, we even have some technical players, what we don't have is intelligent coaches guiding the players in elite programs that teaches soccer IQ the way Europeans or Brazilians think.
I keep hearing a common out cry that is a complete fallacy. The way Europeans think and play will never work here in North America. I don't know where this ever came from but its basically saying our athlete's brains are weaker and not as smart as Europeans. Boggles my mind that coaches actually think this, yes there is culture influences that impact development but they are minor in the long term development. As Todd Bean of TOVO Academy in Spain would put it: "Let's continue to rethink and redesign talent development!" As Todd is a lead world educator in the sport, he says this because A) his way is among the best to develop a soccer player. He knows it, Johan Cruyff knew it, and I went Spain to be educated by Todd because I knew it. And B). Todd knows that even if rondos, position exercises, and match play were NOT the way and NOT a key platform to develop a soccer player then we are back where we first started, which is absolutely no where. Might as well take a "risk" or "chance" that perhaps the Spanish way, etc is onto something and we can adopt it over the next ten years to see. Why not right, Canada has literally nothing to lose.