Is the CSA not enough?
Updated: Feb 24
In Canada, we have the Canadian Soccer Association(CSA), Provincial Organizations, and then District Associations. Trying to understand how the soccer system works is a job in itself for most people. We always talk about the governance we have in place and how we can improve it.When you really look at it, it is a massive undertaking and so many layers of voting before you even get down to the player that may be affected.
If we start in Western Canada with British Columbia(BC).
BC -Founded 1907 12 Adult Leagues(Full Members) 39 Youth Districts(Full Members) 13 Adult Leagues(Associate Members) 19 Other (Associate Members) classified as Multi-Sport, Fraternal, Non-Profit, For Profit, Short-term event, Post Secondary Institution, and other
Alberta-Founded 1911 19 Member Districts Associate Members
Saskatchewan 21 Member Associations 29 Associate Members
Manitoba Regular Members Regular Members-Winnipeg Youth Regular Members-Regional Regular Members-Other Associate Members
Ontario-Founded 1901 21 Districts Associations Associate Members ORNCA-Ontario Recognized Non-Club Academy
Quebec-Founded 1911 FSQ Fédération de Soccer du Québec-18 regional Associations Association Régionale de Soccer de Québec-32 affiliated clubs
Nova Scotia 7 Districts
New Brunswick Member Clubs
Newfoundland and Labrador 30 Member clubs from 11 regions
Prince Edward Island(PEI) 12 Member clubs from 5 Districts
Yukon Yukon Soccer is comprised of members and affiliates spanning more than 1300 registered players, referees, coaches and other volunteer administrators and soccer leaders across the territory.
Canada is a massive country in terms of area but why do we have so many layers? How did the CSA allow this to happen or did they? With a little bit of reading you find that many of the provincial associations were formed before the CSA. The Canada Football Association was inaugurated on May 24, 1912 and became a member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association(FIFA) on 31 December 1912. Also the district in which I lived in, the Hamilton & District was formed in 1912. So everything was created around the same time in terms of structure and with many new associations the years following.
Now fast forward 103 years later and see with the provinces listed above where we are at. How many layers we have in the game of soccer? How many layers with voting rights and how we are governed with a bottom up approach. Club Members vote in their Club Board of Directors. Then clubs would vote in the District Board of Directors and President. Then the District President sits on the Provincial Board of Directors who vote in a President. Until a few years ago the Provincial Presidents would sit on the CSA board but now have gone through governance reform to have people on the board for the good of the game instead of the good of their province as in the past. It's amazing to say the least that anything is being done when you have that many people, that many layers trying to make decisions for the good of the game.
What I am going to ask though is how many parent soccer dollars are spent on the administering of the game and what are you getting for that? Anthony Totera of Red Card on Next Sports Star asked the same questions last week.
I often say that clubs relate too much of their success to off field items. I am not saying that they don't need to be fiscally responsible and do what is right for the club. I want clubs to relate success to their on field performance and not how many new "clients" they have or new "customers" they have. I want to see clubs with a proper structure in place to be successful as I mentioned in my previous blog. Financials are important but need to be secondary in the eyes of the "customer". What needs to be important is the value of what the player is getting and most importantly, is the player developing and improving. I wonder what all of these associations spend on administration? W hat if we centralized all of this from the top down, how much money could be saved or put back into coaching and player development? What if the CSA developed this National Registry and it was used by the whole country?
As an example, the Royal Spanish Football Federation is the National Federation here in Spain and below that there are 19 regional and territorial federations. My 4 boys play in Catalan Football Federation Championship. It starts at U8 and up until Segunda B or the third tier of Spanish Football. Segunda B has 4 groups then Segunda with 22 teams(1 group) and finally La Liga that we all know and love. You can very easily see the pathway from U8 to the likes of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The Catalan Federation is also in charge of all the leagues and everything can be found on their site. They include Football 11, Football 7, Futsal, Women's Football, Beach Football, Women's Futsal and Football 5. So there is one site for all players, coaches, administrators and parents. There is just one site for all teams. It is roughly 225 divisions of anywhere from 16-20 teams/division on the male side only which is the biggest group. All schedules, results and standings can easily be viewed. All games take place on Saturdays and Sundays and usually you alternate home and away games.
The second part of this site is the registration portal where all players are registered to form the Catalan player registry under the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Each club enters the information into the portal and once entered and approved parents get their own account to update their contact info, update the photo the year later etc. Emails are sent directly to the parent from the federation and special offers from sponsors are also sent out. The portal stays with the player regardless if they go to a new club the following year. One system for all clubs. Clubs do not need to spend money.
You have a profile page as I said can be edited, and the club the player is registered for.
Then you have a page for the medical that the player had. All players must undergo a medical every two years at an approved medical facility. The cost is around 30€.
Once you undergo the medical, the doctor approves you to play and the health centre enters the information into your portal as you provide them with the player's ID #. Once you have been cleared by the doctor each player has to buy insurance for coverage of injuries, travel, hospital care etc. There is a range of cost but it is about 40€ to 80€/season and based on age. When you are younger you pay less and increases to the max when you are an adult. There are no unnecessary travel permits, tournament permits, play up forms, guest forms and whatever other form you need. You are covered for all by the Catalan Federation and Spanish Federation Insurance. If you want to have a friendly and they have a field you go and play it. You are covered. At times some districts hold you hostage with issuing these permits and some ridiculous situations that have happened trying to get a friendly game scheduled and the required application to travel form. No district associations here. Only the National Federation and the 19 "Provincial" associations.
Some may ask how do they get their players books? Very simple, once the registration is approved, the club is able to print their business card size player card. In Spain they have National Identity cards for each resident and they are submitted with registration or a passport if you are not a citizen. Each match the referee matches each player with the card and the team list which is in the system and approved by the Catalan Federation. I never understood why in Ontario opposing coaches/managers check the cards to see if they are valid and not the referee. Lastly, once the information is in the system, the club would not have to register them again the following year. They get assigned to a team and that is it. As mentioned earlier, if contact info has changed it would be entered by the parent. It's a fairly easy system, all centralized and all info is a click away. In addition to what is in the portal, you also have the history of the player, stats, calendar, standings, results, inbox, news, notifications and much more. Players are also given a federation card for being registered and have some special offers with it.
All sounds pretty simple when everybody is working towards the same goal. One National Federation with its Provincial Federations. The top down approach is one that Canada must get to. We have districts, league associations, independent leagues, members, associate members, ORNCA, non/sanctioned league with a bottom up approach. From the CSA's strategic plan, "Govern the game in Canada professionally in collaboration with our partners", they are in their 3rd year.
This is a tall order to unwind the mess of tangled clubs, districts, leagues, associations, egos, self-serving individuals and whatever else I have missed. This is only one of the problems we have in a huge list of things that need to be corrected. We have created many off field barriers. Soccer should be run in a cost effective, efficient manner. We need to remove all this money wasted on administration in the game because we are not being efficient, have multiple layers and do things 3 and 4 times depending on where you are. Its time and has been time for a long time for the Federation to truly be in charge even though it is not an easy situation. Maybe we can start fresh with a new name and 20 year vision like Australia has done. Back to Canada's 1952 name of Football Association of Canada perhaps and a youth department. This could be another blog, but did you know that Canada had founded the Canadian Minor Soccer Association in 1969, then changed the name to the Canadian Youth Soccer Association in 1977, and then incorporated into the Canadian Soccer Association in 1982 which was probably more of the CSA swallowing the youth association whole than incorporating into the CSA. But we were ahead of our time with the youth department and time to get the game on track!! Please our game deserves more!