HPL bits from a meeting tonight with club presidents and a special someone from BCSA

Unintentionally, this blog is becoming a mini-magnet for those looking for HPL information. There is increasing demand for information on the proposed new league as we move closer to a decision on whether this will actually happen. As I think I mentioned in a previous post, HPL-related search terms are dominating what brings people to what is essentially a youth coaching blog I run and aim at the coaches and clubs I work with in Vancouver.

I don’t want to turn into something it wasn’t intended to be but I do think getting information out about something that will dramatically change the youth soccer landscape in BC for a long time to come is important and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sites covering what’s going on.

To that end, I was in a meeting tonight with Steve Kindel, representatives from Pt. Grey Soccer Club, Dunbar Soccer Association and Kerrisdale Soccer Club and ….BCSA Director of Soccer Development, Michael Findlay. While the meeting was ostensibly about the three clubs plans to potentially work much more closely together, the issue of HPL came up a few times. I don’t want to get too much into what Michael said because it was said in the context of a meeting and not as content for this blog but I think a few things that were said are okay to put out there. Additionally, he did say it’s important that information about HPL does get out there, so…

According to Mr. Findlay:

* HPL still has some considerable ‘boxing matches’ to fight on the ‘technical side’ for it to actually be a go.

* It’s too early to make assumptions about any particular club (either in the Lower Mainland or outside it) to be getting a franchise.

* Part of the Request for Proposals will require potential franchisees to be able to meet ‘technical standards’ as laid out by BCSA

* Agrees that time is getting very tight to have it launch in the prescribed manner with evaluations happening in the spring for a fall exhibition schedule that bleeds into the proper HPL season in March 2011.

He also showed us the latest periodization chart for HPL which was updated in October and seemed quite different, from memory, than the first one I posted awhile back.

Beyond that it’s starting to become common knowledge which groups/clubs are already in talks with others about partnerships that will increase their chances of getting a franchise. I had conversations with two people today about certain clubs talking with potential allies in this regard. This is only going to increase in the next few weeks as people try to get a lay of the land before people get too busy to meet over the holidays.

This, of course, is all in advance of the official release of the RFP’s and the concomitant franchise criteria and also in advance of the District Chairs meeting on November 24 (I think it’s the 24th) but it shows that increasingly clubs are pretty sure they know what it’s going to take to get a franchise and they’re partnering with others that make sense. That District Chairs meeting could be a very long one though as the noise to signal ratio on all this is still too high and sorting fact from rumour amidst a strong climate of ‘fear of loss’ is going to take a long time and a lot of patience from those in attendance to get through.

The inter-club communication is a good thing though. If the criteria are well thought out and cover the sort of ground that most people think they will, having the carrot of an HPL franchise will push clubs to work together or merge to patch over their deficiencies and make themselves stronger from top to bottom. While the goal is entry to HPL there will be trickle down effects that will help in many other ways as economies of scale are realized. For a start reducing attrition at older age groups will be easier as merged clubs will be working from a larger base of players which means fewer will slip through the cracks.

Unless something really tangible regarding HPL comes up though I will stick with the primary focus of this blog and resist posting anything speculative or immaterial.

Comments are welcome on this but will be moderated in case they spill too far into rumour and innuendo.

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2 Responses to HPL bits from a meeting tonight with club presidents and a special someone from BCSA

  1. Fred Cutler says:

    One trickle down effect would be to give kids the opportunity to cheer for a truly local youth team in a really accessible way. The modeling of all aspects of the game is really missing from our experience here. The Whitecaps moving up will help, but it’ll be even more distant than now for a 10-year-old to see adult men and women playing in that kind of environment. But if we could get west side teams to turn up and cheer on a west side U18 team I really think it would have a huge impact on our young players’ drive to improve and succeed.

    At the moment, the best players disappear to Vancouver FC and younger players in the clubs have no connection to them. (My 10-yr-old thinks his friends Oscar Barrow and Jonas Hakkinen have drop off the face of the soccer earth. “What is this Vancouver FC, metro thing, anyway” he might ask).

    Think of kids that can see a local model in a place like East London who can see the progression from youth teams up through smaller clubs like Leyton Orient (http://www.leytonorientdevelopmentcentres.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=7) to a big bottom-of-the-table (sob) club like West Ham United.

    • Gregor says:

      That’s a good point Fred. Engendering a connection with a high profile team within your club has great value and keeps kids connected to the club even if they’re playing at a much lower level. The stories that come out of having top players involved in things like Provincial and National team opportunities resonate much more when they’re seen to be a part of the same club that you are.

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