HPL: word from the top…

Not sure exactly when this came out but it must have been in the last few days. The HPL Committee has put out a comprehensive summary of what HPL will look like for BC soccer players and how it will mesh/conflict with other leagues and programs. It’s well thought out and covers most of the bases.

While it’s been apparent that once this league was up and running as a spring/summer entity it would spell the end for Y League (which I’ve coached the last four seasons), I did think that death would be a natural one as the player pool would essentially dry up. Bit surprised that the death now seems to be mandated (last bit of point #5) and the Committee feels it can simply dismantle clubs like Coastal and Mountain FC that have been around since franchises devolved from the Whitecaps and have had tremendous success since inception.

Beyond that, there really aren’t too many surprises. I did think that in order to get rid of any confusion around identity and to fully establish HPL as the top league that they would look to scrap Selects and GMSL (ie. Metro level soccer) and push players back to Gold but it seems like they plan to maintain a slightly modified version of the two leagues (with permits to HPL but no mention of permits between Gold and Selects/GMSL) and keep that as a second tier. It does not say if it would be expected that the Selects/GMSL would also switch to a March to November season like HPL but it logically follows that it would if the leagues would run a permit system to facilitate temporary movement of players between the two leagues.

Colin Elmes, co-founder of Total Soccer Systems, mentioned in the comments that he’s like to see a two tier league with promotion/relegation. Maybe this opens the door for that?

So the level that will be forced to adjust the most is potentially gold if Selects/GMSL move to a March to November season. Assuming gold, silver and bronze stay on a September to March season for the next little while at least it means that after the first year (where tryouts/evaluations are synchronized) you will have gold players going to tryout for Selects/GMSL in January while they are still playing for their gold teams and then, if they make it, being required to start playing for their new teams while their gold team is still potentially involved in Cup play. Looking forward to seeing how BCSA handles that one having just been on the receiving end of some of their ‘Cup logic’ in the last week or two.

This is also the first inkling we’ve had, officially, of what some of the criteria for franchises might be (RFP’s are apparently on their way out to clubs very soon). As mentioned in the last post on HPL, there’s a mention of  ‘cradle to grave’ programming, excellent game day facilities and other tenets that pave the way nicely for some clubs to be logical franchises. Others, Vancouver and Burnaby come to mind, will now be scrambling to look for partners so they’re not left out entirely.

Anyways, here’s the manifesto…

BC Soccer HPL Committee Summary

Talking points for committee members to review the progress of the committee with District and Club members.  This is meant to be a summary of the key points we have come up with over the last couple of months.  If members of the committee are attending meetings or are asked questions regarding the HPL these points should provide a reasonable overview and a consistent message for the membership from all committee members.

1) The HPL is to create a provincial league at a density and level of play that does two key things.  First it provides a competitive level of competition for elite players to reach their full potential and play in an environment that improves their chance of being scouted and selected to Canadian National Teams.  Second it simplifies the scouting for National Training Center candidates as well as Canadian National Team selections.

2) After review of major competitions such as club nationals the Committee recommendations for playing season for the HPL is March to November, registration for the HPL would be January to December.  This would align our HPL playing season with other Canadian Provinces, giving our Provincial Club Champions every opportunity to compete at Club Nationals with their full roster of players.  As well this would give teams competing at Club Nationals competitive games leading up to the Tournament.

3) It is the recommendation of the Committee that the HPL begins with 8 competitive entities in the first year of play.  The expectation would be to see an entry from the Interior of the Province, as well as an entry from the Island.  The remaining entries would be from the lower mainland, hopefully spread geographically throughout the region.  It is the hope of this Committee that all successful proponents would form very strong regional partners in their area to ensure players throughout their regions would have access to the HPL pathway while still playing in their local clubs.

4) Criteria would be drafted and be available with applications for entry.  Some minimum criteria would be programming from cradle to grave, for both male and female members.  Ability to host game day events in a central location for all teams over the two day weekend.  Qualify for Canadian Soccer Association Club Charter minimum standards.  Support and implementation of Long Term Player Development Program.  Minimum Coaching requirements.  Minimum Technical guidelines such as minimum playing time etc.

5) The age groups involved in HPL will be U13, U14, U15, U16 and U18.  Transition from existing league play to the HPL will be done during regular assessment periods of April and May so as not to cause problems with team selections in existing leagues.  In the first year of play the HPL would select teams during April and May and then play a small season from September to November and then start their first full season in March.  This will leave players available for existing programs such as the Provincial Team Program and Y League.  Once the first full season starts programs such as Y league would no longer be offered.

6) The transition of U12 players to the U13 HPL would happen each year in April and May.  Players would be scouted all season and selections would be made at the end of the U12 season.  Training would not start until September with a short season to introduce the players to the full sized game.  The first full season would start in March of the next season.

7) With the creation of the HPL we will be removing a large percentage of players from the existing leagues; Boys Selects and the Girls Metro.  While the HPL is important for National success we cannot just ignore the impact of creating the HPL.  It is the recommendation of the Committee that the existing GMSL and Boys Selects merge into a new independent league looking after the second tier of competitive soccer in the lower mainland.  This league would service the remaining selects and metro teams as well as draw the best teams from the gold divisions of the existing district leagues.   This league would mirror the HPL in age groups and would have permit movement between teams.

8) The recommendation of the committee for League governance would be the successful applicants would provide candidates for the League Board of Governors.  The Board of Governors would run the league and submit their rules and regulations to the BC Soccer Board for approval each year, the same as all leagues in the Province.  It would be the decision of the Board of Governors to decide if they will run all day to day operations or hire a League Commissioner to run the league.  BC Soccer would maintain an HPL committee of 5 members to assist the league with fundraising and technical development and anything else the league feels it needs assistance with.

9) Programming cooperation and coordination, the BC Provincial Team Program (PTP) and the National Training Center (NTC) will be reorganized to work with the HPL season and end the years of confusion and conflict these programs have endured.  The HPL season ending in November will allow for program training in the November to February period as well as scheduled league breaks for players of distinction to be brought together for training or events like the National All-star teams tournament.  This cooperative scheduling will remove the confusion felt by players and potential overtraining when they are trying to satisfy to many programs at the same time.

10) Technical support, BC Soccer Technical department would provide support for training criteria and curriculum as well as coach development and sports medicine.  As well as assessments and critique of programming to ensure all minimum standards are being met and maintained.

11) Costs for the program should be comparable to costs for a metro player who also plays Y league so we should not see any large cost increases in programming.  Also with the HPL being a single provincial property we should be able to market this program for funding and sponsorship to help offset the cost of running the league.

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4 Responses to HPL: word from the top…

  1. Mike Bradford says:

    If both HPL and Metro leagues switch to a spring/summer schedule, have the organizers considered the implications on the girls side for field hockey and softball? In some areas these are extremely popular with good athletes, and many metro soccer players play both. I could imagine that the proposed Tier 2 league could struggle given these conflicts, and the extra travel and expense.

    • m says:

      what about leaving this tier 2 in the same season we currently run. (personally i think you cant change it due to field restraints and players wanting to play other sports)
      there is going to be a cost to the players to play in this hpl… there is no doubt about that. travel and coaching costs will be the major factors and i hope coaches are paid properly for their time.
      im not sure i see teams permitting players as often as we may think either and just going with a roster of 18 ish. (deeper player pool on the roster and even if 3 are away / injured, the team can easily play that next weekend with what they have.
      saying that, teams will want to drop players and pick up new ones like every team does in the off season, so hpl has 2 “transfer windows” if you like as well as has 2 registration periods (Jan and July) which are during the time off / hpl seasonal breaks.
      besides breaking up the cost into 2 payments which is much easier on parents, it also helps with the following.
      players can be dropped back into tier 2 during the summer break and just begin the new season with a select / gold team in a club that does not play in the hpl or tryout for a different hpl team and a new player can be picked up. (players pay the registration for the season they are about to begin whether that is hpl or tier 2).
      In jan, players can also be dropped back into tier 2 (which i know is in the middle of the teir 2 season) but do not have to pay for the remainder of that season (the season will only be 2.5 months in lenght anyway and i would imagine any tier 2 team would be happy to pick up a hpl level player in time for their cup run). these players may also go to any club they choose that “transfer window” and not be considered “out of district”. this allows a comfortable transition back in tier 2 or what ever this second level is named. the following season they must return to their home club or be considered “OOD” if they decide to play for a different team / club.
      the new player who has been added to the hpl roster now pays that time periods “reg fee” (mar – june).
      players do not develop over night, so this makes sure teams give a new player a few months so that the player can prove themselves without the worry of being dropped back the next game as they didnt play well enough or fit in… give them time to mold to the teams / clubs system but also if they dont fit the bill can be released. (all coaches have picked up a player and thought this just isnt working after 2 months so now they wouldnt be obligated to keep them for the whole season)

      The only way i can see a permit system working is if the hpl clubs also run the tier 2 league (reserve program if you like) otherwise its going to be tough to have players come up for 1 game etc on permit.
      I just dont see Surrey United’s or Abbotsford (for example) hpl team needing a player and they go to langley and say we are taking your best player this weekend. coaches of the tier 2 league wont be too happy about losing their strongest player and this could create friction.

      just a though and i would love to hear anyone elses ideas on my thought or their own.

      this is a great blog… im very glad i came across it and i hope it all works out as soccer in BC does need to progress.

      • Gregor says:

        Thanks M(ark),

        For now the second tier will stay Sept to March but, and I think I’ve said this already, I think the tail will wag the dog and Metro/Selects will switch to March to November and after that 4D, 5D and BCCGSL will also do the same within the next five years.

        Not sure how much the new permit system will be used but my hope is they make it very flexible and easy to administer so you have truly fluid movement between these levels. It should be a two way street too with players not just getting pulled up but allowing for players who aren’t getting much playing time at HPL to go down and get time at Metro/Selects.

    • J says:

      Mike B, yes the summer months will be tough for alot of kids, mine included. She plays ‘A’ ball as well as Gold soccer & with WC, we juggled it in 2010 from March – August but it was a real gong show and frankly not something we could continue without the kid ( or her parents ) combusting, not to mention that the next step (HPL) may not be at all flexible with attendance. She is very young and we’re already at the point this spring where she may have to choose. I’m a very proud dad and she / we love both sports at these levels and it just kinda sucks that a choice may have to made so soon.

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