Talent identified! What comes next?

Updated: Mar 29

When it comes to soccer, most agree that we have the quantity but lack quality - although player participation at u14 and above are dwindling. The goal is to build players that can compete at the highest level in Ontario, maybe Canada. To do this, one has to restructure the entire system. The Talent Development System, for starters, needs a 're- think'. With Ontario Soccer's reform of coach training, competitions and support structures, the training of players should improve and provide sustainability - even at a very young age. However, so far, this is not happening on a broad scale. I addition, the reform of parent behaviours and the education that goes along with it also seems to backfire. So far, parents seem to buy into the 'long term player development' (LTPD). To actually follow the scheme still proves to be a problem. Patience is a problem Time is a problem. Expectation is a problem. Understanding LTPD is a problem.

Our children are not 'mini-adults', they need child-friendly training. A basic 'no- no' is the one-sided fixation on short-term success and the associated pressure on the coaches and players to produce immediate results. At the same time, we want to bring players back to the 'classic virtues' - a mentality shaped by the will to win, team spirit, passion and identification. If we like to instil the 'good old soccer field mentality', we must move away from 'selection' and back to individual training.

Patience is a not only a Virtue, It is also a 'Must' in order to Detect and Nurture Talent

In the current system, the players that best fit a mould are promoted. That does not necessarily mean that those players are the most talented ones. Therefore, we must pay attention to the development of the talented ones and provide patience, time and opportunities that these players require to succeed.

A stumbling block amid others is that clubs and academies are now graded and rated by 'standards' (club licencing): the way they are organized and operated, what facilities and resources they have, how many top licensed coaches they have, etc. While this may very well be a good thing, it also creates an unfair 'playing field' for smaller clubs/academies. In essence it also is a hurdle for those families less affluent. After all, these 'standards' require serious funding.

  • A simple scenario: Team A wins their league and is promoted to a higher league. Great! Team B also wins their league. Unfortunately they cannot be promoted. Why? Because their Club does not meet the requirements for the higher league's Club Licencing Standard. Is this fair?

That means that a small club that has developed quality players without all the above mentioned standards, will never play against 'top rated' clubs/academies. Their players are robbed of the opportunity to play in the same league as the others, even though they earned their spot. Their players are penalized because the club/academy does not confirm to the mandated standards. One suggestion/solution OS came up with was that the smaller clubs merge with bigger clubs. With a move like that, the true spirit of individualism and identification is lost. Big clubs grow bigger, small clubs will merge or disappear. Players become numbers.