HPL – Expressions of Interest

The deadline just passed and here’s who has submitted their Expression of Interest to BCSA. Not too many surprises.

  • – Abbotsford Soccer Association
  • – Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club
  • – Lower Island Soccer Association / Upper Island Soccer Association
  • – North Shore / Burnaby
  • – Pitt Meadows Soccer Club / Golden Ears United Soccer Club
  • – South Fraser Soccer Club
  • – Sportstown FC
  • – SurDel Pegasus FC
  • – Surrey United Soccer Club
  • – Thompson Okanagan Football Club
  • – Vancouver / Richmond

The interesting one is really SurDel Pegasus FC. Looks like SurDel and Surrey FC ended up getting together. That will make things a bit more interesting.

Here’s how I see it breaking down:

Abby: They will get one but they may have made a strategic mistake in not wooing Langley boys and girls. Not exactly the most competitive at Metro/Selects so they could have used some allies to buttress their player base. They are in though.

Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club: A lock. This is exactly what those running it want HPL clubs to look like. Not afraid to admit they want to be the best, great staff, great coaches, great facilities.
Lower Island Soccer Association / Upper Island Soccer Association: Also a lock for geographic reasons and because they have a disproportionate number of votes and those votes come in handy at BCSA AGM’s.
North Shore / Burnaby: North Shore could have chanced it by going alone but a bit of arm-twisting on the Mountain FC front means Burnaby joins in and brings great facilities with them; a deficiency for the North Shore given the massive number of players they have.
Pitt Meadows Soccer Club / Golden Ears United Soccer Club: Just don’t see it. They are effectively North Fraser Selects and as such have just four teams in the boys Selects divisions (out of six) and none of them are in the top half of their division. Speaks to a lack of competitiveness and with Abby to the east and Metro Ford to the west the only place to draw from is Langley and they seem to looking towards Surrey United.
South Fraser Soccer Club: Good history of co-operation between the clubs in this region, very good coaches and great facilities to go with a player base that is big enough if Ladner, North Delta and Tsawwassen sign on to the official application. Have the advantage of covering a different part of the region when it comes to a head to head with SurDel Pegasus.
Sportstown FC: Nice try Colin but at least you’ve got your USL Y League U20 franchise to console yourself with.
SurDel Pegasus FC: This one, as I said, is really interesting. Surrey FC is already a massive club, bigger than Surrey United and have reasonable success at Metro/Selects level. Geographically more of a north and south east Surrey club, they’re probably looking at having to compete with Surrey United more than South Fraser as the powers that be are going to put a premium on spreading these franchises around the Lower Mainland so no one has to travel too far unless they want to.
Surrey United Soccer Club: One of the other locks. The club that Martin Foden built is impressive on all fronts. Great facility with clubhouse, very competitive, big enough and very well staffed. If SurDel Pegasus were competing with anything less than Surrey United they’d probably get the nod. But they’re not.
Thompson Okanagan Football Club: Lock by virtue of geography. Hope they start playing a better brand of soccer than their Y League teams though.
Vancouver / Richmond: Last to the party but it ended up coming in the way that those picking wanted to see it. A cozy arrangement between two districts that have at times worked very closely and well together and other times not so much. They connect the border to the wilds above the North Shore mountains and will definitely get a franchise.


So geography is definitely going to be a determining factor and you never know what strengths and weaknesses the actual applications of each entity may hold but the co-operation and joint bids that characterizes Y League clubs did, in the end, materialize to the relief of the organizers and this will make their decisions that much easier.

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84 Responses to HPL – Expressions of Interest

  1. Kurt says:

    I don’t find SurDel/SFC a surprise since Newton Athletic borders Delta. ??

    Re: the Abby-Langley connection not happening…worth looking into. But wooing was not the issue. In fact, Langley have not stated on their web page they will bid for their own HPL franchise in the future – which I can’t see happening without a second division being created. So Langley United clearly had their own agenda – read their web page. I wonder where LU gets their girls from next year without working with LFC Girls (you’ll notice no mention of a collaboration b/w the clubs in the announcement).

    Re: North Fraser or South Fraser – Yep, you’ve convinced me. I had been saying “North Fraser over South”…reason being the North Fraser club would be able to draw from Coquitlam, and Langley not just Alouette.

    Re: Thompson-Okanagan – Agreed re: their play in SYL! Here’s hoping they can overcome the club-relation issues they have been having, especially between Kelowna and Kamloops. They can’t overlook or under-appreciate Penticton who do good things as well. I was reading on one of those clubs’ web pages (can’t recall – probably the T-O SYL site) that they are openly addressing the club-relations issues. If all the clubs play nice T-O can be quite competitive.

    So you indicated Abby, Metro-Ford, Island, Okanagan, SU, NS/BBY, Rich/Van are all in – as you see it.

    My bet is SurDel gets it over South Fraser for the 8th spot, and both selected over North Fraser. Better history. Great facilities. Excellent adult programs on male side (not sure about female side…but certainly competitive with any Peace Arch women’s teams?), and of course the SYL history.

  2. Larry says:

    Gregor, I think you should get a ladbrokes franchise, run some odds on the various HPL clubs and start taking bets. 🙂

  3. P says:

    SurDel Peg is actually Surrey FC, Surdel, and North Delta

    • Gregor says:

      Interesting. I’m a bit surprised as North Delta’s been working with the South Surrey clubs on boys metro teams the last two years. Definitely makes the SurDel Peg bid more viable and a bigger threat to South Fraser SC.

      • Ryan says:

        North delta typically works with the South Fraser on the men’s side and Surdel is on the girls side. Makes more sense to work with Surrey as Newton AP is minutes from North Delta while White Rock, Ladner and Twassassen is quite a distance from North Delta. In recent years the stronger players have come from North delta and not Peace Arch anyways for that district.

  4. Robert says:

    Going to be interesting to see how strong the Abbotsford bid is with only Chilliwack to support them. With Langley no longer supporting them from a facility stand point they have some serious obstacles to overcome. Their failure to secure partnerships leaves me wondering if the HPL will consider heading east only as far as the Surrey clubs. Food for thought.

    • Gregor says:

      Yeah, I’d assumed there would be some sort of push to get Langley to jump in bed with Abby but it looks like that Langley has turned its affections westward from what I hear.

  5. Kurt says:

    With Abby’s history of SYL there isn’t any HPL facility issue. Although Bateman park could use some work (…). Who knows, maybe they can use the stadium facility and adjacent parks as well? Both venues have change rooms.

    Based on Langley United’s posting the other day about creating a new girls program they clearly have their own agenda. I wouldn’t feel to “secure” in any arrangement with that club if I were any “westward” team.

    • Gregor says:

      I don’t know enough about who Langley is going to shift players to but from one thing I was told I think it will be towards Surrey.

      As for LUYSA going after girls and announcing they will look for a future HPL franchise…what else would you say when you’re making an announcement like that? You need to make a serious statement that will catch people’s attention and start giving girls in Langley a reason to consider a move there.

      Again, I don’t think Abby’s issues are facilities. It’s being able to be competitive. Here’s how they look right now in Metro/Selects:

      U14G: no team
      U15G: second last
      U16G: no team but Chilliwack does and they’re second last
      U17G: 4th of 7 teams; well below .500
      U18G: second last

      U14B B: second last
      U14B A: last
      U16B B: first place
      U16B A: no team
      U18B B: 4th of 10 teams
      U18B A: 6th of 11 teams

      This does not scream powerhouse franchise to me…

      It does surprise me that given this was put together to be an elite league there is more credence being given to club history and structure than their actual ability to currently compete. This is another reason why (and if I missed it, please correct me) I’d really like to see a clearly worded review process built in to the application form so that prospective franchisees know this is not a life long guarantee.

      Whoever gets a franchise should be subject to regular reviews to see if (a) they are actually living up to the promises and statements they made in their application and (b) are they actually able to compete.

      You can have all the futsal training sessions you want and prove your Canadian Club Charter material but in the end if you’re not providing reasonable competition to the other teams at most age groups you really should be in whatever the second tier ends up being called.

      That said, Abby engender a lot of respect because they’ve historically been a groundbreaking, progressive club that was really the first to hire a full time TD (Colin Miller) and were on the USL SYL bandwagon way before everyone else.

  6. Kurt says:

    There were FV district issues which resulted in Langley and Abby having tug-o-war over metro franchises. I wouldn’t read into which division they do and don’t have clubs in. On the boys side that is. I don’t really know anything about the girls side. And yes, the u14 Abby boys have put up disappointing numbers…I don’t know the reason.

    As for Langley saying “we will have girls program and we will apply for HPL”….without stating “We have partnered with LFC” it sounds to me like LUtd is not playing nice. Why would anyone want to jump in bed with them if they aren’t even partnering within their own city? Considering LFC has an excellent reputation from what I hear.

    Basically, if kids from Langley want to play HPL they’ll have to go to Surrey or Abby. How many Langley kids would make a Surrey team? I don’t know. How many would stay in Langley and play second tier in the hopes of Langley getting HPL in future? I don’t know. Chances of Langley being added as 9th HPL team in future? I assume very little as Abby would be incumbent, and clubs such as South Fraser, Surdel, and North Fraser will have already tendered bids etc etc…Not to mention the 4-club West Van merger. Now, if a club is removed or withdraws from HPL…different story.

    Abby has the structure, adult programs, coaches, u6-u10 development, and professional association (Bolton Pacific Center of Excellence – which includes Bolton coaches training the PDL, S20, and SYL/HPL teams 3-4 times a year, and reverse trips). The TD isn’t half-bad also!

  7. Colin Elmes says:

    Gregor, thanks for your uncompromising support.

    • Gregor says:

      I would actually love for your guys to get one. Truly. It would break the existing paradigm almost completely and make everyone that bit more accountable if they opened this up to academies and it would give players more choices. I’ve always pushed for that.

      But you won’t get one…

  8. Colin Elmes says:

    Thank you Gregor. I am verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves…….

  9. m says:

    i personally believe TSS deserves one… they have exactly the set up needed to support soccer development and if they dont get one just because they are a private academy is a poor excuse and thus going to hinder the development of soccer in our province.
    I dont care who you are, if you can show that you have the means to help soccer grow, then you should be getting a franchise plain and simple.

    As for the Langley United going with a girls program, i have heard that girls out that way are tired of the constant non sense that is LFC and most, if not all, of the best players have already left that club and the ones who are still there will are happy to see Langley United not worrying about the girls club and doing their own thing.

    • Gregor says:

      While I’d like to see a setup like TSS get one to further break the mould and help re-define who should be able to participate in these ventures they are hindered by one big element: nowhere near enough players.

      While I’m sure TSS has some very good age groups I know when I see some of the kids in some of their ‘top’ training groups that, currently, they don’t have the depth to offer teams at all HPL age groups.

      I’m sure they would draw more players if they were given a franchise, which would not exactly break Colin’s heart, but the immediate lack of players and questions about field access are their biggest hurdles.

  10. K says:

    Gregor has it right re: TSS.

    M is right re: a private academy being allowed to play. Academies should be able to join top tier in BC/Canada. If the kids can pay the fee’s to join and the academy will provide the best soccer education than why not? TSS has good programs for sure. I don’t really know if TSS would charge more than an HPL academy because it is “for profit.” But that shouldn’t matter. If they can attract the players than they should be allowed entry if they meet the criteria. And with the addition of players I think they would – they have women’s senior programs and I would assume could develop male counterparts. But yes, fields would be an issue, especially if Richmond Youth “hogs” them all! 🙂
    …now maybe if TSS moved to Surrey they could find more fields to play on??

    Hey, if Langley United can get a girls program and try to get into HPL that’s fine. But there won’t be any HPL openings for years once the initial 8 are accepted. But the franchise review process has not been stated yet has it. Also, with 2 or 3 Surrey teams plus Abby already in, why would the league accept Langley in tier 1 HPL? No reason the kids can’t be expected to drive the 20-40 minutes for practice. Heck, depending on where they live in Langley they’d have to drive that far for practices within Langley anyway.

  11. Colin Elmes says:

    TSS has a private grass field. Potentially another on the way. Gregor, I know your reference point re player in our top group( all singular). Nice extrapolation! Wait for our proposal. Thanks for your support M and K whomever you are.

  12. Gregor says:

    Not singular really. Just the fact that you have kids of three different ages in a top group suggests a lack of depth.

    But I am really looking forward to seeing your proposal.

    And I believe Honda Field is the grass you’re talking about? My Y League team trained on it this past spring/summer. It needs considerable work.

  13. Colin Elmes says:

    Honda- no. If you are referring to Monday training there are 3 seperate groups there that train on their own. Come out and see for yourself

  14. Colin Elmes says:

    nice work on the SNL stuff Gregor. I was waiting for the “what the hell is he talking about” which of course is a regular comment aimed at me regarding soccer.

  15. Colin Elmes says:

    Famous? I barely have any friends. Someone got to ask the awkward questions of the soccer monopoly.

  16. m says:

    I didnt realize there was a new TTP.

    Is current numbers of a club / franchise going to be a deciding factor in the vote as to who gets one? Correct me if im wrong but Coastal / Mountian / Surrey WFC didnt have 1 player when they were awarded Super Y franchises.
    The most important factors need to be coaching and game day operations and who offers the best of these will attract the best players regardless where they live and thus be strong enough to compete in the HPL.
    we all know that players from the NS or Coq or langley will drive to Richmond and (if abby had a decent team / coach of a team) players from Van would drive there as nothing stops people in the lower mainland from finding the best and making the trip to help develop their kid.

  17. Gregor says:

    Coastal, Mountain and Surrey WFC were formed for the express, and exclusive purpose of playing in Y League so, no, none of them had players before they were awarded franchises.

    This is quite different though. Current numbers will play a role in this and I think franchises will need to demonstrate they have some sort of critical mass of players that are able to legitimately form teams capable of competing at this level.

    I agree that coaching will be an important consideration, one of the most, but I don’t think game day operations will factor in that highly unless you are considering the quality of facilities a part of game day ops.

    Yes, the top players will travel for the right combination of coaching and price. They are the ones who will have the most choices and they will likely shop around as they should.

    I think it really was the last four years of Y League that opened the door for HPL to happen. It proved that a spring/summer schedule would work, that we didn’t need restrictions on “out of district players” and that people would pay a premium to play in the league if they saw value in it and they would get in their cars and drive longer than normal for the experience they wanted.

    I’ve coached the past four years at Coastal and my teams have trained on the west side of Vancouver and Richmond. Over those four years I’ve had players come from as far as Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Langley and Surrey. In fact all the players from those places played at least two years for me at Coastal.

    I’m pretty sure that without Y League it would at least have taken much longer for a league like HPL to come to fruition because seeing these things work at the Y League level was definitely a catalyst to changing the ‘main’ playing season to something better.

    • Larry says:

      Gregor, clearly one of the big issues with HPL implementation is the coaching. How many qualified coaches are there in the Lower Mainland, the island or the interior? Eight HPL clubs x 5 age levels x 2 (boys/girls) = a lot coaches and assistant coaches. Not to mention that each one will have a few “staff” coaches and a Technical Director in the structure.

  18. K says:

    Can’t deny that. The kids will travel for good playing opportunities. If denied at their club of choice will play for another top level team. I’ve seen it throughout my SYL involvement. Even just hearing the numbers at tryouts for the SYL teams tells me there is enough interest to warrant the HPL and to remove boundaries.

  19. Joe says:

    Once again the soccer elites at the Provinical level have screwed up again.
    1) This program is cost restrictive as most can’t afford the $2500 and up per season.
    2) This will eliminate the player to only soccer ( no other sports ) because of time and cost restrictions.
    3) Water downed league with the Okanagan, Abbotsford and Island team being awarded a franchise without any top teams.
    4) Forcing some of the elite players to travel farther distances for practices, or just end of playing Gold level when they shouldn’t.

    • JoeR says:

      I have been following everything on the HPL for a fairly longtime now, and it still makes me wonder where some of the comments are coming from.

      First why is it that so many people have such an issue with playing a schedule that actually matches the rest of the country? Why are so many so negative about the kids having to choose which sport they will play? I grew up in Ontario and my daughter spent her first years of soccer there as well. In Ontario you can not play ball and soccer as the seasons are at the same time…so kids choose.
      It is clear from the numbers playing SYL , Whitecaps Prospects and TSS Travel teams that there is an appetite for soccer during the spring and summer. If the numbers in these leagues/clubs were not strong then I would agree it would be far fetched to think the HPL season would work but they are strong.

      As for the travel time and going to play out of area, we live in Cloverdale and have taken our daughter to TSS to train there, we took her to SFU for training when she was with the Prospects, and finally spend all last summer going from Cloverdale to Vancouver for practices with Gregor. The key is players will want to go where there is a good program and a good coach…and us parents will drive them where ever we need to.

      The one thing that I do find interesting in the HPL creation, is little mention on whether the Coaches will be able to coach their own kids. Having coached my daughter up to U13 I knew it was time to step away in order for her to get better. I have gotten coaching certificates but my thought was for her to learn she needed a coach that was not her dad . It was the best thing I vere did for her as aplayer as she could be one of the team and not the coaches kid, and I could be dad and watch her play without having to make comments on what she was doing. In the SYL you can not coach your own child, in the Provincial program it is the same so why would the HPL not follow suit? I have seen too many times where coaches are unable to separate the player from their child. I agree in the lower leagues where most or all of the coaches will be volunteers, but in the HPL where the coaches are going to be paid why not restrict this? My daughter now at age 15 only wants to play for a coach that does not have a child on the team…if a 15yo can see the advatages why can’t the adults?

      • Gregor says:

        Hi Joe,

        Hope S is doing well.

        HPL is definitely going to strongly limit kids playing any other sport seriously and I know there are already parents wondering what to do with kids who are still two sport athletes. It’s not likely to be explicitly stated that you can’t play two sports, just that the HPL team comes first. End of.

        HPL has been groomed to be a professional coach environment so it’s unlikely that parent coaches will be involved at anything more than an assistant coach. There are some very capable parent coaches out there but it’s very tough to coach your daughter on a team where people are paying big bucks. I had that dilemma with my own daughter and Y League. I chose not to have her even tryout. If she’d been able to make the team it would have been at the low end and that’s just a bad can of worms to open.

  20. K says:

    Hey Joe No “R” you are too cynical my friend. First the kids will go where there is playing opportunity at the highest level. Okanagan are open about their issues they have had up there, but if the kids want to play highest level they will play HPL up there and not play 2nd tier. On Victoria they will play HPL as well or Highlanders…I imagine both will do better. Abby has proven with SYL they traditionally can be very strong. Over the next few years the younger age groups will drastically improve as the u6-u12 age groups are finally getting adequate attention.

    Joe with an “R” is right – the kids are going to have to choose a sport. Boo hoo. You can’t have your cake and eat it too in life, so why not teach that lesoon through sport as a teen? I don’t know of anyone that gets to do their favourite job in winter and different favourite job in summer. Also, what forcing a decision will do is make certain the kids that really want to be there, will be there. As opposed to “the talented kid that doesn’t really he just happens to be good enough while the basketball team is shut down for the off season.” I’d rather have the gold level kid that really wants to be there and is willing to train and become an elite player, than the kid that has loads of talent but is only playing because he is good enough and has nothing better to do.

    There is also demand, clearly. $2500 also isn’t a huge deterrent. As JoeR said, there are enough kids playing metro/SYL/TSS to justify such a fee as they are paying that anyway – more! And yes, the kids will drive. Thank goodness for an open boundary.

    Re: driving distances – unless you are going from Vancouver to Abbotsford the max driving distance will be about 30-45 minutes. That is nothing significant. Even from Abby to Coquitlam to cross the bridge can be less than 45 minutes depending on time of day. The change is good.

  21. Larry says:

    There is no evidence out there that suggests playing a single sport all year long is beneficial to the development of a high-level youth athlete. In fact it’s the contrary, multisport development at the youth level aids in the development of different muscle groups, dynamic movements and tactical constructs. For instance, basketball and track field are very complimentary to soccer and should be encouraged as should other sports. Basketball for example is 5v5 small-sided game (using soccer language) with incredible movement, passing and 1v1. The fact that it’s played with your hands does not take away the benefits of the tactical constructs. Steve Nash was also a very good soccer player. Track & Field is a great sport for individual athletic development.

    I don’t think it’s the intent of the HPL to limit youth to one sport but there will be some choices based on time commitments or schedule that have to be made. Obviously one may not be able to fit club basketball and HPL club soccer in their schedule, but one may be able to play high school basketball for example.

  22. Kurt says:

    Playing multiple sports is just fine! The point is they have to choose at some point in life, and in sport. You’ll receive no argument from me that there are many examples of kids playing multiple sports and its benefits.

    T&F is a tough one out of your examples. I played a lot of track and field and am well aware of its benefits. I am not sure it relates to soccer though. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule re: T&F. Bball, though…for sure.

    The point is however, most of the arguments I have heard/read have been “but my daughter wants to play softball in the summer so she’ll quit soccer.” Now, the argument for some might be “my child loves the social aspect”. That is where the discussion comes down to “whatever is more important to your child and more beneficial. It’s a family choice.”

  23. Rich says:


    Personally I think Van/Rich/TSS should have gone in together. Van/Rich have the player base and the out door facilities, whilst TSS have a proven player development curriculum, an indoor facility and a ‘home’ from which the franchise could be based. Between the three you have proven TDs/head coaches as well as a genuinely qualified coaching staff. As somebody who hopes to coach in the league at some stage this would have been my preference. Of course there would have been a mountain of politics to get over, but the possibilities are there for all to see. Did either group ever suggest this? I guess not as it appears that BC Soccer are against the likes of TSS being involved.

    If we really want to do what’s best for the kids, give me a better plan for a franchise than that.

  24. Colin Elmes says:


    You must go and ask Van and Richmond that. Always been open to new approaches to solving our soccer problems here in the lower mainland. I think the “non profit” vs “for profit” is a massive stigma for those on the system side. Most TDs are given an opportunity to boost their compensation packages with user pay programming. Which places them, in fact, more along the lines of us in the Academy world.

    When these TDs file their taxes, I would bet that most of them claim office space in their homes as a deduction. Many of them get paid a lumpsum and take deductions off on their side. They are not actually employees of a Club but are contracted by them to provide technical support. Sounds like business to me. Many are just smaller versions of the TSS model hidden behind the non profit presentation

    • Gregor says:

      To Colin’s points….

      I really don’t think there’s as much stigma out there around the profit v non-profit as Colin thinks. No one here has mentioned it and really all the comments on this blog are supportive of TSS being allowed to participate.

      But the argument being made is a bit facile.

      Yes, as a TD, I claim expenses similar to what Colin outlines and yes we’re contracted to provide technical support (and admin support and advocacy). It is a business and I’m a self employed business person in that regard.

      There is a difference though between a private business like TSS and a not for profit society like the youth soccer clubs that TD’s work for.

      Colin is free to pursue any soccer pursuit he wants and, as he knows, some are (a) more profitable than others (b) more related to actual development than others.

      I feel much more free, than a private business might, to tell parents who ask for particular requests like to be put in a certain training group, no, because I don’t have the meaningful financial consequence to deal with that they might. I can make decisions from a finance-free perspective. We regularly tell parents that we can’t take their son/daughter into a program because they are too young or we don’t have a suitable group for them. We regularly comp players who can’t afford it and we are afforded an environment where we don’t have to come up with money-spinning ideas to cover the often considerable monthly costs that a private business does. We don’t need to manufacture cash cows and we don’t need to ‘sell’ parents on particular programs and travel opportunities to stay sustainable.

      I’m not saying TSS does this…on a regular basis. But it’s a business and if it wants to stay in business it needs to ensure things like a particular ratio of players to instructors, maximized revenue from facility use and maximized revenue per customer.

      Club TD’s don’t have to worry about any of that. On top of that, we have a Board of parent volunteers that must approve everything we propose to do. That vetting process ensures that if we were ever to propose something of limited soccer value but high on entertainment value and stuffed full of cash, they’d say no.

      I think the issues that may well prevent TSS from running an HPL franchise really have almost nothing to do with whether they are a private business or not. It’s far more to do with how they relate to BCSA long term and the fact that, in the immediate term, they reside in Richmond which has agreed to a joint bid with Vancouver. Just as some of the other applicants are competing for spots within regions, this is what TSS is facing. Would they be a better choice for a franchise (approx 600 players at TSS; most probably in non HPL age groups) than a combined Vancouver-Richmond application (almost 10 000 players and access to more than enough facility space). I think not.

      If there was room for both I think it would be really interesting to see how a private academy would run with an HPL franchise. But there’s not room for both.

      Could they work with Vancouver and Richmond? Not for me to say. I’m not involved in those discussions. I do think they would add to the equation rather than take away though and I would hope that those involved at least consider it as an option.

  25. Colin Elmes says:

    Thanks Gregor for clearing all that up.

    I particularly enjoyed the phrases money spinning and cash cows.

    Correct this blog has not made the for profit angle an issue. But it has hung over the heads of groups like ours like a black cloud for years. And I have certainly had it thrown in my face on numerous occasions by many who pull the strings in this Province.

    For the record, TSS has over 750 Members in an already borderless environment(14 year head start on HPL). People choose to come to us, TSS is not mandatory. We have upwards of 20 scholarships each year and consistently turn players away because the program they covet is not appropriate for them in our opinion.

    We have always wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem.

  26. J Larkins says:

    If we could only get Paul or Bob to post on this blog on behalf of the Whitecaps it would become very informative and entertaining.

    One clarification Gregor, as much as I have come to realize that many drills I have tried to apply to kids over the last ten years or so turned out to be of “limited soccer value but high on entertainment value”, I must say I have witnessed many an executive decision that would fall into that category.

    • Gregor says:

      Honest, I’m trying hard to make it informative and entertaining even without Paul and Bob! What should I do? More Ricky Gervais references (that’s three now by the way)? 😉

  27. Colin Elmes says:

    Get Robbie Savage on here.

  28. K says:

    I haven’t read any comments on this blog stating “kids playing multiple sports is a negative thing.” What I have written is that “kids, just like adults, can’t have everything they want in life and have to make tough decisions.” I’ll add “if a kid would rather play basketball and that results in their inability to play HPL, then good riddance. The kid has no place in HPL because they don’t intend to take the sport as far as possible, whereas some other kid with less ability than the bball player might.”

  29. m says:

    I would like someone to clear this up for me…

    aparently “they” say that playing multiple sports is better for the over all development of the athlete but at what point do our athletes become jacks of all trade and master of none?
    The likes of Brazil, Spain, England etc focus purely on soccer and they dont seem to have any issues with their soccer athletes struggling at any level of play yet here in North America we encourage our athletes to focus on many sports saying it will help them yet here we are struggling to compete at the top level in the most registered sport in the country not to mention the world.
    In my opinion if an athlete wants to succeed then they must focus on the one sport so the sooner they choose the sooner they will “master” that sport or at least master it to the point their athleticism allows.
    Now even though this is my thought on the subject, i still dont want us to lose players as we “force” them to choose by changing the season… hasnt anyone figured out that soccer fields are hard to come by anyway and by changing the season will be even harder as fields in the lower mainland are used for ball etc and thus not available for soccer.

    • Gregor says:

      If we’re talking elite player development I think the role of second sports really becomes more a matter of occasional cross training rather than having the luxury of being able to play a full season in that sport and attend all the practices that go with it. I don’t think many of the 12 year olds at La Masia in Barcelona are playing ice hockey on the side. Safe bet I know.

  30. Kurt says:

    Fields won’t be an issue. It’s already been pretty clearly stated. They will access the same surfaces used by the SYL (6 of 8 HPL clubcs basically) and the additional HPL teams (Surrey United…and Vancouver/Richmond?) both have sufficient facilities at their disposal.

    As for multi-sport. There are arguments for both sides of the coin. My argument is simply; If a child chooses one sport over the other, than that is their choice. If it means an elite soccer team loses a player. Well, in my opinion, they’ve lost a player who never “really” wanted to be there because they obviously preferred something else. Give me the player that “really” wants to be there.

  31. Colin Elmes says:

    Best players at U12/13 never best players at U18.

    English FA- study over several decades of Schoolboy representation. One player advanced through entire system – Sol Campbell. and he wont go away!

    Be careful of scaring away next layer of players Kurt!

    • Gregor says:

      Agreed. I even go as far as to say that being the best U9/U10 player (by most parents standards; ie: the fast kid who scores 3 or 4 goals a game) is not a strong indicator of who is going to be a top player at U13/U14.

      Further, I had a look recently at the rosters of the players from the 1985 Youth World Cup (I was on the Canadian team and wanted to see if any of the teams that kicked our ass had any famous alumni). You wouldn’t recognize a single name on the England team. None went on to have any sort of real success professionally.

    • Larry says:

      A huge difference between the U12 to U14 vs U16 to U18 age groups. There are incredible changes in maturity, physical stature, social development, the list goes on and on.

      To be the best at U12/13 and U17/U18 is improbable. Learning complex elements, physical or mental, often takes years to come to fruition.

      A good friend once said to me, “It’s a marathon not a sprint”. That comment has stuck with me ever since.

      • Gregor says:

        So much so that it almost begs the question, “Why do we wait a full year to re-form teams at tryouts/evaluations?”

        The general rule of thumb is to pick teams around April for a season that runs September to March/April. I always see kids that we picked for teams like U12 gold that looked fine for that level in the spring and then appear to be struggling by November. And vice versa, the kid who maybe narrowly missed making gold is now lighting up silver and totally ready for a higher level but has to wait a full year.

        If running tryouts wasn’t so incredibly draining, in terms of dealing with some of the parents, and time consuming ( I run them for over 1100 kids every year) I’d almost make the argument for two shorter seasons with a “re-evaluation” in between.

      • Bruce says:

        As a Gold 1 coach I would love to have a partner Gold 2 or Silver 1 team where we could move players up and down.

        … Different topic I know.

  32. Kurt says:

    I know the best at u12 are never/rarely the best at u18. I think my point is misconstrued. Sorry, Colin. Let me be clearer. If a child has to choose a sport and chooses a sport other than soccer I won’t lose sleep. I just want the kids to be involved that really want to be involved. My u11 season is a perfect example. And for the record, some kids have joined Bhangra dance, gymnastics and everything else. I have no problem with it and encourage them to go try different things.

  33. Kurt says:

    Has this taken a sidetrack or are these comments suggesting I said the best at u12 are also best at u18?

  34. J Larkins says:

    Oh goody! – let me get into this (love the internet).

    Why can we not card and register kids by age group rather than team and then have clubs make decisions as to placement on some sort of reasonable interval (I presume it would not be weekly since I suspect most coaches would not tolerate that kind of movement) as to first team – Gold, second team – Silver 1, third team – Silver 2 … whatever that may be for the particular club. Leave Bronze alone for recreational players. Clubs would declare their placements at the various levels at the beginning of the season (assessing the number of kids in each age group eligible to play at the declared level) and adjustments would be permitted at Thanksgiving. Clubs would be required to deposit 18 player rosters for cup play at the end of September – no movement.

    It do not think it would change things too much in terms of paperwork given the process before each divisional game. Referrees would turn in their forms and these would be randomly audited by the associations and teams found fielding players in multiple levels over one weekend would be docked points. I would hope, and suspect, that the exercise in discretion for movement would be used carefully since moving kids around constantly would be counterproductive. I would also anticipate that movement would subside, if not disappear, as kids progress to U15 and beyond as physical and mental change, soccer perspective, ambition (mostly parental) all starts to fall in line.

    I am a coach – the most obvious disadvantage would be to me because, perhaps, I would not have “my” team. However I think I would still benefit because I would still be a coach for teams in my club, but now part of a team of coaches that can share some ideas and would be under the guidance, I would anticapte, of professional coaches or technical directors.

    I just think the advantages would very much outweigh any disadvantages. Smaller more efficient rosters since you would not need to always be budgeting for the six hockey players/skiers who may or may not show up to a particular game. Teams would become more club affiliated as opposed to team-centric, and perhaps more focused on guidance from the professional coaches and technical directors, which I think would improve the level of coaching generally and, perhaps, the development of players. Success in any cup or league competition would become a bit of a club success as much as anything – which I think would also foster broader club wide development. You would lose the effect where a coach leaves and team falls apart because of the rigid affiliation with that coach – that team. You would reduce the madness of parents who have unreasonable ambitions or views on their kids abilities (or committment) while providing opportunities for kids who either improve during the course of a summer or season (most often, as I see it, due to maturity, growth or confidence). The kids would not have the stigma when they are often “cut” from a higher level team at U12, U13 and U14 in particular – which I think contributes to the attrition we experience at the 12 to 14 year old level – since they have an opportunity to re-establish themselves on that team – perhaps re-focus, perhaps just get over a hump they face personally – so that they can come back to higher level soccer when and if they are ready. To me it is often very obvious when I see a lad who is struggling to play at a particular level, scared and sometimes depressed, hearing screams from parents (often his parents) to “pass” all the time – kids are not stupid and you see it within the team as it spreads through the players and parents that little Jimmy should not have been on this team or that little Timmy was not on the team because of politics. It is there for all to see in the performance and commitment of the kids that are fielded at each level. I think most parents may find it somewhat of a relief, if handled correctly, to have an opportunity to see their player moved some place where the success and joy can be re-established if they are struggling.

    Best of all as a coach – there would be some sort of expectation from the players who choose to compete at a particular level. Those who stop showing up to practices and, to the surprise of many, seem only to make the odd game – can now very sensibly be shown a place on another team more accomodating to their choices. Parents and the players would, in my view, become more accountable. That cannot be a bad lesson in soccer or life.

    I really think you would only see a bit of movement around the fringes – the special cases perhaps and the bubble players.

    My experience in club systems was always like that – my level of play was routinely a product of my ability, committment and competition. Trying to assess that once a year over a couple of try-outs just seems to be to impractical, if not impossible.


    • Gregor says:

      I think there’s a ton of good stuff in there. I’ve also wanted to see much more fluidity in terms of being able to move players between levels and this takes that way beyond what any ‘permit’ system allows. What I may do when I have time is take this comment and intersperse it with my own thoughts on it in a separate post. Let me know if that’s OK with you.

      • Bruce says:

        I think this would be great. Obviously there would be logistical issues (don’t want a revolving door, no stacking the lower teams at opportune times, etc.), but I love the concept.

      • Rich says:

        Some great ideas. Just imagine how effective they would be if the 4 westside clubs did join forces…

  35. Kurt says:

    I like your idea J, and you are right. Registering to a specific team within a club is antiquated. HPL will allow for players to be registered to the club and then moved up age-levels as is appropriate (obviously no older kids in younger groups).

    Anyway, just read on TTP that the North Fraser bid includes Port Moody, North Coquitlam, and Central City (Breakers). And of course it is not North Fraser, but specifically Golden Ears United-Pitt Meadows.

    • Gregor says:

      On the topic of freeing up player movement within clubs, I think we’ve definitely evolved to the state where stacking teams to win games is no longer a problem. Overwhelmingly, the coaches I work with and talk to are much more concerned about finding competitive games and having their team challenged than winning all the time. It’s definitely a sign that people really have bought into the development over medals argument at these ages. So I think we are at the stage where we can trust that clubs will not use greater freedom to move players of the same age between teams at different levels for nefarious reasons. I think it would be hugely beneficial to players to be able to have that freedom.

      On the HPL rumour front, the show of support for Golden Ears/Pitt Meadows is a sign that the whole circus is moving towards a full on campaign. We’re going to start seeing more of these PR initiatives via platforms like BC SoccerWeb, more acrimony as people dispute the claims of those PR statements and increasingly more rumours.

      A reminder on the rumours: the ones that involve real people can cause those people considerable stress. There’s a couple flying around right now regarding who’s going to be TD of various franchises and there’s no substance to either of them. I’m not going to name names and if I will reserve the right to delete comments that involve baseless rumours.

      But the one about abolishing Metro/Selects and having Gold be the second tier of play may have some legs though. Supposedly, the idea has spread from one District to others and is being discussed more seriously now…

  36. m says:

    Kurt, im not talking about HPL not having enough fields… im talking about moving this second level to the same season as HPL.
    I dont know which fields you are looking at but there is not enough of them to go around when you are talking about 10 – 16 teams per age group per gender and that you would have u12 – u18 involved.
    I have been involved in PCSL and some of the teams struggled to find the same field to play on any given weekend and PCSL only has a senior team and reserve team… some dont even have that and they still struggled to find fields.
    dont forget that the Lower Mainland likes to rent their fields out to as many user groups as possible to be fair to all… i wont even list the amount of sports / user groups who whine about having their fair amount of time on the turf.
    We should not be changing the season of the second level that way we dont lose players or begin to have field issues / ref issues / coaching issues etc.
    without the above we cant have soccer and we all know that most second and third level teams are coached by parents whos kid is athletic and plays more than just soccer… we lose the kid, we lose the coach and then what do we do?

  37. Kurt says:

    I hear ya, M.

    I was thinking last night about all the “This club is linked with that HPL bid” etc etc. In the end, it really won’t make much difference. Yes, if Delta is supporting SFC a lot of Delta kids would go there but in reality, the kids are going to go where that family believes it is best. If that means driving to Coquitlam, or Vancouver, or Abbotsford they will.

    • Larry says:

      I would agree also. For most people who currently belong to a club that is affiliated or partnered with some an HPL proponent, these players could go anywhere, and why not? The no boundary rule will allow them to go anywhere when tryouts time comes along.

      Initially the clubs that are more vertically integrated will have a head start advantage as they have decent player pools in their system. But even then, their players could walk also. The new entities or “Franken-clubs” will be scrambling like crazy to secure players. Over time though, it will all even out and settle down.

      For the first time, clubs will really have to market themselves. Player fees, practice times, development programs, coaches, facilities, sponsorship, physio programs and maybe free a Starbucks Vivano after the game are all going to factor in.

      • Gregor says:

        The best marketing is word of mouth and endorsements from players and parents within your club. This is going to change the landscape considerably over the next few years, particularly if 4D, 5D and BCCGSL also look to drop “out of district” restrictions and allow free player movement.

        Freedom of choice is good for players and parents and great for improving accountability on the club/coaching side.

  38. K says:

    Details for the Periodization plan and the Pitt/GEU bid are up on BC SOCCER WEB.

    And yes, transparency will be a must if they plan to attract players. I suggest a league-wide web page for the 8 franchises. Similar to the MLS web page where all teams have their own web page that follows the same format connected to a central league site. The site would be run by the league with info provided directly from each club. USSDA has something like this already.

    • Gregor says:

      I’d go a step further and suggest that all franchise applications be posted online so people know who is involved and what is being promised. That would be full transparency.

  39. Colin Elmes says:

    Larry said:

    For the first time, clubs will really have to market themselves. Player fees, practice times, development programs, coaches, facilities, sponsorship, physio programs and maybe free a Starbucks Vivano after the game are all going to factor in.

    Gee that sounds like the accountability that TSS goes through each season. How refreshing.

  40. Larry says:

    Question for Colin.

    What happens to the academies with an HPL being established?

    The academies have performed a significant amount of the programming for top-level players to date. It’s common to see 3 or 4 players on any Metro/Select team going to TSS, Roman Tulis, Whitecaps, while the other 75% are just going to team practices. HPL the proposal is to have all-inclusive development programming within the HPL club.

  41. Colin Elmes says:

    Maybe we will be involved?

    Been through lots of flashpoints over the years where this question has come up. Still going strong. Adaptation has always been a big word around these parts. As everyone is saying its going to make all these entities more accountable. I can guarantee some wont measure up and will be found out overtime.

    We shall see.

  42. m says:

    its a pretty simple situation for TSS…

    if they dont get into the HPL (what a shame if they didnt) and the players who make HPL dont go to TSS as they are supposely getting that same top level coaching on their team, the players who dont make HPL teams will be the ones who go in the masses to TSS for the top class training so they can better their skills and thus make an HPL team the following yr.
    So now instead of TSS developing players for the BC program, they are now the feeders for the HPL. And really, im sure you will still see HPL level players going to TSS for that extra little bit that they wont get in their HPL team as i dont see this league finding and being able to pay for the top class coach (National B level or higher) each team needs / deserves.

    • Gregor says:

      Agreed. When you create a shiny new prize to aspire to (HPL) you create a commensurate fear of loss. People will look to academies and professional coaches in general to help their kids either make or stay on HPL teams.

  43. Kurt says:

    M – coaching ability is not necessarily indicated by coaching certification.

  44. J Larkins says:


    Does today’s announcement that “the Mission Soccer Club, Central City Breakers of Surrey and North Coquitlam United Soccer Club announced their formal endorsement of Pitt Meadows Soccer Club and Golden Ears United Soccer Club’s joint HPL bid” change your evaluation above? Does this threaten Abbotsford’s bid at all?

    • Gregor says:

      It changes my evaluation but I don’t think it’s quite enough to change my mind about Abby getting a franchise yet. In other words, I think it makes it a closer race but it’s not enough to overcome how much of a pioneer Abby has been over the years and that they connect more of the Fraser Valley than GE/PM does. I think the Golden Ears bridge connecting them to Langley is a bigger boost than the endorsements of these clubs tbh.

      Abby really though should have building these bridges themselves and reached out to Langley and across the river to clubs like Mission that are geographically close. Instead, these clubs are now associating themselves with rival bids.

      • Kurt says:

        Abbotsford very much did reach out to all of these clubs. I can tell you, they all voiced their support of Abby and then pulled 180’s. Langley United not only did it to Abby but to LFC!

        For me, it makes sense Mission support Pitt. That is their district for now. I have been told Mission want to change districts due to geography, and they should. Langley’s fields are about 20 minutes from Cloverdale so that also makes loads of sense, whereas Abby’s are 30-40 depending on where they live. The only clubs Abby could really “rely” on are Chilliwack and Mission, but Mission is correct to support it’s traditional district. I appreciate their loyalty.

        But in the end, these links will mean little to nothing. I guarantee you, no kid from Whalley or family gives a darn if Central City supports GEU for HPL! I’d be shocked if kids said “ya, I wanna pay $4 every day to cross that bridge x2 because my club says I need to support them.” Erm….

        Also, Langley can’t really believe all their metro kids will make Surrey United and if not then stay Gold!? Those kids will leave for Metro Ford, Abby, or Surrey FC for sure….

  45. K says:

    I’d think it doesn’t affect Abbotsford. Mission is already in the Alouette district. I’d think the CCB link might weaken it as it has appearance of “the numbers game” to me!

  46. K says:

    I also have spoken with a member of CMF who states NCU is on verge of folding. …to me, it appears North Fraser is more fractured than ever since this bid is separate from North Fraser Selects who had appeared to have excellent regional collaboration, but it now appears really didn’t.

    Links mean little to nothing to me in this process. The kids and coaches will go wherever they want regardless of affiliations. Frankly, the Surrey United bid is an example. OK, so Langley United and Langley FC support Surrey United. #1 – Surrey United doesn’ tneed their support. #2 – Langley Utd is basically trying to make LFC redundant by creating its own girls program and trying to get into HPL on its own in the future….so how much support can Langley clubs really be giving Surrey United? You know what I mean?

    • Gregor says:

      My brother in law coaches at NCU and he’s not heard anything about them folding up shop (even though I’ve said to him that they’ll have a hard time surviving long term up against a behemoth like CMF).

  47. Kurt says:

    I would think it isn’t widely-known info re: them folding….? For the record, I am a big supporter of NCU. The 12-13 year old boys team I faced for a few years was superb! And I went and watched them play my old team as 14 year olds and of course still play excellent soccer. Even the u18 team we had “problems” with when we played tried mostly to play a good game of soccer. I think NCU preaches skill from what I can tell.

    Here is NCU announcing the support of the Pitt/GEU bid:

    Maybe this is there bid to stay afloat. Ie, if they are directly linked to an HPL club then kids might choose them over CMF or BBY.

    • Larry says:

      The thing about the NCU affiliation with Pitt/GEU I find odd is the relative geography. NCU players and CMF live in the same geography. Both NCU and CMF train and play on the same fields. It’s common to see NCU training at Coquitlam Town Centre (CTC) on one field next to CMF, although CMF probably gets about 75% of the time allotment. The same CTC being the facility in CMF’s HPL bid. So if you are an NCU parent, is your first choice going to be Maple Ridge if you can make HPL?

      It would make a ton of sense for any community team to group up with the closet HPL franchise and be feeder clubs. But sadly enough we see the same story over and over from various areas of the Lower Mainland as clubs scramble.

      Trying to pitch a bid that says we have thousands of players isn’t going to work if one cannot demonstrate a level of quality. CMF probably has half the number of players in their bid as a Pitt-GEU Franken club. The simple fact is that it’s quality vs quantity. CMF has spent the last 5 years since the Coquitlam City merger with Metro Ford to construct and fully integrated boys and girls program, with well performing Metro/Select teams (U14-18), SYL teams, and a men’s and women’s adult program. Some of the HPL proponents are trying to accomplish something similar in a matter of months.

      The smaller clubs need to be around as they provide a great service, where sometimes you’re just a number at the bigger clubs. But there also comes a point where one must be realistic.

  48. Kurt says:

    Exactly, Larry. Exactly. The “links” at this point mean nothing to the actual members of a club. I just don’t see a kid from NCU going to Maple Ridge if they can play for the BBY or CMF club. Heck even a Mission kid….why drive 30 minutes to Maple Ridge when they can drive 5-10 to Abby. The kids will go where it is best, and some drive big distances for sure. But the norm will be “My kid will play with the club nearest, I don’t care if XY United supports HPL Club B.”

  49. John says:

    Funny how people think Abbotsford is a great place to play soccer but how many of you have actually been there in the winter? You know when they say blowing snow in the Fraser Valley? That’s Abbotsford. How often are they snowed and rained out? Always 5 degrees colder than Greater Vancouver. How many turf fields do they have? One? Who wants to drive out there? Abbotsford SC might have a great program but the biggest problem for them is the one they can’t fix: it’s located in Abbotsford. If I’m coming in from Chilliwack to HPL I’m going to want to keep right on driving through Abby and go to Surrey. Abbotsford will get the second tier elite players and will have a hard time being competitive.

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