UPDATE: Nov 12
– Heard something interesting yesterday. Could be some differences of opinion between the Whitecaps, BCSA and clubs over what NTC and Prospects will look like under a model where HPL is the dominant player in the proposed new environment.
The Caps had something on their website related to this that quickly got taken down… Turns out it was a old document that pre-dates HPL discussions that was put up mistakenly.
There’s definitely a hunger out there for information on the proposed High Performance League that is being hashed out by a committee composed of Whitecaps staff, BCSA staff, club Technical Directors and District volunteers. Searches related to HPL consistently outnumber anything else in terms of traffic coming to this website and I’ve really only posted small bits of info that I’ve been made aware of.
Since there’s considerable interest I’ll point out that the minutes from the last committee meeting are available here.
There’s a few interesting details that allow people interested to get a good glimpse at how it may all look in the end.
As discussed earlier, the new league started with a few notions in mind and two of those seem to be confirmed now. The first, which is long overdue, is getting rid of restrictions on where players can play. It’s proposed that the rule limiting teams to three out of district players will be scrapped for this new league. This empowers motivated players and forces whatever franchises end up in the league to be accountable and offer a good environment as they no longer have a captive market that would find it difficult to play elsewhere if they weren’t happy.
The second is that the league will follow the rest of Canada and be a Feb/March to Oct/Nov season. It was made apparent by the inclusion of a spot on the committee for a Y League rep that there is a lot of respect for what Y League policies have brought to local soccer. Along with being the only youth league in BC not to have restrictions on where players can play, it is also a spring/summer league and it has shown that there is demand for this season and it can work.
The last initial talking point when the committee was formed was that Metro was a bloated league, at some age groups anyways, and there had to be fewer teams and more control over who could put teams in. This is where it will get very interesting as the committee is getting closer to releasing the criteria for getting a ‘franchise’ in the HPL.
It’s widely believed that most want each age group limited to eight teams. You can safely assume that one will be from Vancouver Island and one will be based out of Kelowna now that a spring/summer season is agreed upon. That leaves six franchises for the Lower Mainland. There was talk of there being five or six but they will of course want an even number so there’s no byes.
Of those six, Abbotsford, Metro Ford and Surrey United are locks. That leaves three franchises to be awarded. Already there is chatter that Surrey should get a second one and that it should logically be based out of Surrey FC. After that, it could end up looking somewhat like how the Whitecaps divvied up Y League franchises. Vancouver, Richmond, Delta and maybe the south Surrey clubs could, a la Coastal FC, potentially work together to get a franchise while the Mountain FC clubs on the North Shore and Burnaby also combine forces. That would carve up the Lower Mainland into reasonable chunks without forcing players to travel too far if they wanted to play at this level.
This really is all conjecture though and whatever partnerships are formed in the pursuit of HPL franchises are primarily going to be based around the criteria that will soon be released. Given the prominence of Abbotsford, Metro Ford and Surrey United at the committee level you can expect that the criteria will closely mirror the strengths of those three clubs and that a central locaton for games with excellent playing surfaces and a feeder system into HPL age groups will be mandatory. An overall critical mass of players and professional technical staff will also be givens. That puts the likes of Vancouver FC and Burnaby Selects at a severe disadvantage as they only run U14 to U18 teams.
Even more telling is that despite it being November and no one knows who is going to be in the league yet, they are planning for a March 2012 start. That sounds like they’re leaving themselves lots of time to get ready until you read further that this will be preceded by a Sept 2011 to December 2011 exhibition season that will bridge into the official 2012 launch of the HPL. Unless they’re going to allow players to play on a regular club team and an HPL exhibition schedule team (which is very hard to believe) for the fall of 2011, that means that, based on the regular tryout/evaluation schedule, players will be joining these new HPL teams in the spring of 2011. That’s about six months from now.
It’s going to be a painful transition for a lot of players, teams and clubs but from the information coming out it will be a very positive step forward.
The second wave of considerations is how will it affect the clubs and their other leagues below HPL when the top tier of play is a March to October season, with evaluations likely in January and pre-season prep in February, given that we currently play a September to March/April season at the moment? Will everyone gradually switch over to the same dates as HPL? Will Metro continue to exist but as a second tier league?
Feel free to leave comments, info and opinions regarding anything related to HPL in the comments section below.