HPL discussion: let’s keep it at a high standard

With few places to discuss what really is the biggest development in youth soccer in the province in decades, this blog is becoming one of few places to come for info and discussion. Overall that’s good and I want to encourage that. I think overall the level of comments has been great. Comments are engaging and informative and it is hopefully helping to ensure a healthy, transparent process as we move toward final decisions on who will get franchises.

A couple of things. I put the map showing the applicants location and level of support with a bit of a chuckle knowing it would spark debate. As I said it is not to be taken too seriously and it certainly is not going to influence decision makers.

Naturally though, people are taking the awarding of franchises very seriously and when you have an unusual municipality like Surrey which has three separate applicants and its, supposedly, largest club (the very new Central City Breakers) supporting none of them and instead opting to throw in with Golden Ears/Pitt Meadows, there’s going to be some sparks.

I’ve adjusted the map to reflect some info I received by email to show part of Surrey as ‘disputed’ and to move CCB’s ‘border’ back north about 20 blocks after moving it right down to Newton Athletic Park.

I was tempted to just take the map down but it does serve a useful function given the fact that it’s been made clear that distributing the franchises around the Lower Mainland will be a factor in the awarding process. Demonstrating collaboration is also a factor and the map incorporates that as well.

The map page had just under 500 views yesterday alone (which was the busiest day for traffic the blog has had) so it’s going to stay as long as the signal to noise ratio it creates stay healthy.

I will moderate comments when necessary though. Also, I won’t whip off a post in response to emails I’m getting along the lines of ‘this club/entity is getting too much attention/praise/complaints’. Play nice and keep the discourse at the current high standard. There’s lots of very good information being posted and I hope it stays that way.


Beyond that, the actual vote to pass the motion to create the HPL just got a quick post as I was at a BCSA training session to use the new online registration system they’re promoting to members. Jason Elligott, from BCSA, told me while we there that it passed.

It’s a remarkable milestone that is worthy of a second mention. Many people worked for many years to build clubs that we could point to and say, “Okay, we have the vehicle ready for something better. Let’s build the road for it.” Surrey United is one of those clubs, and under the long term stewardship of Tom Duncan, became one of the few definitions of what a club that wants to make top players needs to look like. There’s many more long-serving, long suffering volunteers across the Lower Mainland who have worked for and fought for the improvement to youth soccer that HPL promises to be. I’d like to tip my hat to all of them for the thousands of hours they have put into moving us to the point we’re at now.

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73 Responses to HPL discussion: let’s keep it at a high standard

  1. Kurt says:

    Well, check out this news:


    Metro-Ford’s sister dealership Magnuson Ford now sponsoring Abbotsford Soccer and re-branding the club Magnuson Ford Mariners FC. Same colours and same black/white stripes, new crest – switching to Adidas (higher quality kits and cheaper in my experience).

    Anyone continuing to doubt Abby’s chances at HPL?

    • Gregor says:

      It’s a very interesting deal and I do wonder if it’s tied into HPL or not. It’ll be strange to no longer have the name Abby anymore.

      I would have to say I don’t know if it really has any material impact on their HPL bid or not though.

    • Coachrich says:

      Great deal for Abby!!! Hopefully other HPL clubs will take notice and get off their butts to do some cold calling of potential sponsors. It would do well for the future of BC Elite soccer to be more like BC Junior A hockey when it comes to sponsorship and owners rather than relying on the player fees – http://www.bchl.ca

  2. Kurt says:

    Agreed, the sponsorship deals are great if filtered directly to reducing player costs – even if it means paying for the big trips for the players (ie, Surf Cup).

    I doubt it is an HPL-specific deal. I’d imagine such an arrangement would have been in negotiation for a long time. ASA hired (I believe they were hired) someone to find sponsorship for them about 1 year ago give or take.

  3. Colin Elmes says:

    Getting business involved in sport? Is that a new idea? We are so groundbreaking in soccer here in BC.

  4. Gregor says:

    BCSA have put an article on HPL on their site. Not much new info just a puff piece really saying it’s exciting:

  5. K says:

    Ya…..mid-February can’t come fast enough for many I am sure. Especially as a number of these HPL clubs will want to conduct tryouts starting in March (some for SYL and some so they can select the clubs and the remaining players can go to gold/metro etc).

    • Rich says:

      One things for sure, the ‘try out’ season is going to be hilarious. The general level of angst in previous years is bad enough. Throw in HPL on top and it’s a recipe for histeria bordering on historical. Can’t wait.

  6. K says:

    Haha, ya, the tryout situation should be good. You’ll have one age group at one club set-up for 100 kids to show-up and 25 will, and another club will have set-up for 50 kids and 200 will!

  7. Colin Elmes says:

    It will be shear and utter chaos.

    • Coachrich says:

      And the 1st indication of how well the HPL Clubs are organized, communicate and get along with the existing clubs.

  8. K says:

    Gregor, that would require organizational skills! 🙂

  9. Phil Hernandez says:

    It is a good question this tryout thing. I can envision players and parents madly coordinating their schedules as they attempt to attend round 1 of tryouts for each of 4-6 teams then waiting for the call back before making a final choice. Who knows if there will be rules about conflicting tryouts dates amongst HPL clubs or limits to the number of teams for which a player can try out. Its going to be a mess that’s for sure. Thank God we’re not year 1.

  10. Gregor says:

    They would be well advised to coordinate both their tryout dates and the time frame that they want answers. While I believe players and parents should have choices it can’t extend to making teams wait ages before you make up your mind where you’re going to play.

    I think it would make sense for a compact, coordinated schedule with the eastern franchises alternating days they are going to run theirs and the western ones doing the same. You won’t stop ‘club shopping’ so you can either fight it by holding tryouts on the same day and forcing players to pick which club they want to be on ahead of time or accepting that it’s probably in both parties interests to coordinate the dates and let players go to more than one if they want to. That way HPL franchises should get to look at more players overall.

    What they should do though is have a universal roster declaration day whereby everyone has to confirm and put deposits down.

  11. K says:

    Again, Gregor, that would require coordination and collaboration!

    But yes, a universal roster date should be a certainty. Especially with consideration to the Gold/Metro teams as they will want to know what sort of players they can expect – ie, the “border” kids that may or may not be good enough for a given HPL team. This of course could determine what teams play metro (because they get that 1 or 2 “stars”) or silver (because a team doesn’t get the players for gold etc)

    • Gregor says:

      Exactly. Should be for HPL and should have been in place with Metro/Selects in the past as well but wasn’t. Will they make the jump from ‘should’ to ‘done’ is the question.

  12. JoeR says:

    Now some confirmation on the South Fraser bid with Semi, PA , TWS and Ladner all on board. Not sure if that is enough, but to me makes more sense geographically than the North Fraser Group. But like others have said at the end of the day I think the program and the coaching is going to matter more than where the practices and games are held. At least for my daughter it will.

    January 25, 2011: Surrey BC, Canada

    SOUTH FRASER SOCCER CLUB – BC High Performance Soccer League
    At its Semi-Annual General Meeting on January 22, 2011 the British Columbia Soccer Association (BC Soccer) approved the introduction of the BC High Performance League (HPL)

    Semiahmoo Soccer Club together with Peace Arch Soccer Club have submitted as partners an Expression of Interest in a HPL franchise under the name South Fraser Soccer Club.

    The deadline for submitting our proposal is January 31, 2011. The eight original franchises of the HPL will be announced by BC Soccer on February 15, 2011.

    Tsawwassen Soccer Club and the Ladner Soccer Clubs are supporting our application.

  13. Coachrich says:

    The HPL risks failure unless all HPL clubs are able to get major sponsors, owners with deep pockets and the franchises become real ones rather than geo-political appointments. With no Rule 23 this elite level is now all about basic sports economics. Here the transtion from amateur to pro am to pro is going from what do I get for my membership fees to how much you going to cover my expense and finally to how much you paying.

    The MF clubs and Abby with sponsors are going to make it difficult for the other clubs to catch up and maybe survive.

    For those interested here is the OSA Elite Plan for 2009


    • Phil Hernandez says:

      An interesting read, coachrich, give our present situation here in BC. One of the main sticking points in community soccer today that seems to have almost universal support among soccer coaches is the abolishment or amendment of Rule 23:
      Youth aged player, to retain youth status, must register and play within the district which administers soccer for the area in which that player resides at the time of their first league game of the season [subject to a couple of conditions]
      I’m not sure when how or why this rule started, but I can imagine it being about trying to end poaching recruiting by coaches and club-shopping by parents/players. I find it a little disconcerting that there is so much animosity directed toward it. Don’t get me wrong, as a parent and customer, I want the ability to choose the best product* I see fit for my daughter. If that happens to be a club that is out-of-district, so be it. And if that was the only, or main, factor that parents considered for deciding where their child should play soccer, we wouldn’t really need a Rule 23 would we? But the truth is parents are not solely motivated by development are they? In reality, most are probably looking for the nearest team just to limit the driving – lets not forget the vast majority of players are in house leagues. And some people are looking for the winners – which is not necessarily wrong; many winning teams win because they have good development programs. Yet enlightened parents (often of elite players) seem to have the same problem as the players themselves – where to play when your choices are limited by Rule 23.

      Then there’s the coaches. I will wait for the thunderclap to be delivered in a string of responses illuminating this but why would the coaches care if there is or is not a Rule 23? Shouldn’t they just run the best program they can within the means of their club and not worry about who plays on their team? What exactly is the source of the venom? Or is it that because I travel in elite player circles (thanks to my daughter) I am only hearing what elite coaches have to say? Am I supposed to believe that they have a (greater) right to unfettered access to players because…why exactly? Is this yet another reason why academies spring up, because there are no boundaries? Or is Rule 23 about correcting behaviour? About putting a lid on unethical practices?
      If so, then even with the removal of boundaries, I believe we should still disallow blatant recruitment. Advertising your club on a website is fine. Posting your team’s records/accomplishments is borderline, in my opinion. By all means, list the coaching staff, along with their credentials, and the club training/coaching philosophy including how you plan to get our children from A to B with B being college/university/provincial team/national team/etc. Indicate a programme or syllabus or the like. Talk about how it links to the LTPD. Publish rosters and the development achievements of individuals such as scholarships granted or provincial/national team selections. These are the things parents (and players) want to know. Not whether you came first in your group in Moncton or Florida. Those events should be celebrated internally with the team, if at all, not shouted from the rooftops. And blatant acts of poaching should not only be disallowed but should be monitored and dealt with. I’m not suggesting we setup some kind of internal affaits investigation unit but if we’re not careful, we’ll be right back at Rule 23 before you can say “tampering”.

      By all means eliminate the handcuffs that are implicit in Rule 23. But don’t forget what the handcuffs were for.


      *See the “Unspun: map of HPL franchise applicants” thread

  14. MJ says:

    Disclaimer– I have 3 daughters that have variously played at the Metro/Gold/Silver levels and know little about the boys side. My 25 cents based on my observations over the years.

    1. Too young? Starting at U13 is asking a lot of 12year olds, especially given their developmental stage. It seems that HPL will preclude these kids from other activities (sports etc) and I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    2. Has the HPL done a market analysis? The thoughtful observations of posters here and elsewhere probably reflect the perspectives of the more ambitious familes/players, TD’s etc. What about the “average” Metro player and family? If you look carefully at the current Girls Metro league, there are 6-10 teams in the lower mainland in each age cohort. Usually there’s one or 2 teams that shouldn’t be there (though each might have some players that should). So I would suggest the HPL player needs (numbers) are similar to the current player pool. But what percentage of those players will choose HPL over the current setup? There is a fraction that takes extra training, will travel great distances to train and play, will pay for it, and are willing not to be involved in other activities, but my observations is that this is a minority of the player pool. The rest are comfortable with the season as it is, they are good athletes and active people that are naturally involved in a lot of other things other than soccer. This situation accelerates from U16 and older. It will be interesting to see what the interest is at 15+.
    3. Rule 23. I have a hard time believing that an all out recruiting battle will not occur for that small group of “elite” players (or crazed parents) to create superteams to get to Nationals etc. It happens now with the restrictions, it will only be amplified in the free market. At least now parents won’t need fake addresses and empty apartments. If franchise holders are being reviewed periodically then there will have to some thought to separating recruiting from development in evaluating performance.

  15. Gregor says:

    MJ actually raises some good points. In this day and age of easy, free/low cost online polling, have any of the franchise candidates or the Districts polled their players to see how they feel about this. It would have been an excellent thing to do and I think it might have refined some of the notions about HPL (age it starts, cost, playing season etc).

    I’ve also heard that some very good players are taking a long, hard look at this as it will supposedly prevent them playing other sports (volleyball, track and field and softball have all been mentioned to me). I know some families in Vancouver who are also looking at how it affects normal summer holiday plans.

    I mentioned earlier that HPL is taking the best parts of Y League (playing season, free player movement, limited # of franchises) into its operation. Nothing wrong with that. What I haven’t mentioned is that the premise behind Y League (as illustrated by the BCSA ‘Pyramid of Play’ before they took it off their website) is that the players in Y League are supposed to be the next best after the Provincial team and Prospects. Having coached Y League for four years, I can tell you that is clearly not the case. Yes, several players on my teams were last cuts from Provincial teams (and some I was amazed didn’t make it) but it was very clear that many top Metro players opted out of Y League each year for whatever reason(s).

    I hope this isn’t the case for HPL and the fact that it is the dominant league (especially since Y League will cease to operate in our region after this year) will help ensure it gets the best players but it will be interesting to see just how many opt out (a)so they can play other sports (b) due to cost (c) due to wanting to keep their summer vacation plans intact.

    As for a recruiting battle, I think the franchises that recruit hardest will be the ones doing so from a desperation standpoint. Very, very few of these clubs are going to be strong at every age group and the ones they know that are going to be their weakest are going to spend the most time arm-twisting. Not just the elite players but the ones that fill specific needs on those teams.

  16. K says:

    PH: Eliminating Rule 23 is excellent. Provinces such as Ontario do not have this rule. This will also allow us to compete with our American counterparts who do not have district restrictions – and quite actively recruit. Now, I don’t think recruiting/poaching is acceptable. Inevitably somebody gets burned and it is 99.9% of the time “about the coach” and not about the player.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with posting info about the coaches, win/loss records of the clubs, trophies won/finals made, scholarships won etc etc. There is no issue with also promoting a clubs’ history. Certainly no issue with stating “We won the SYL championships in 20XX”.

    Most certainly posting the clubs development model and how it will achieve “B”, as well as how it relates to the LTPD is a must – for HPL teams. I’d be disappointed if this wasn’t required to be made clear on each franchises web page.

    Elite coaches do not have any “right” to recruiting. It is against BCSA policy and rightly so. A few years ago a Langley coach was seriously punished for this offence.

    MJ: u13 is not too young. At 12 the boys most definitely need that drive and pressure to further move forward in the game. Maybe not for girls? But they should have the same expectations and so you won’t see one start at u13 and the other at u16. If your main concern is that “kids can’t play other sports.” Well, I have no sympathy. Yes, it is great for kids to play other sports and definitely at the younger age. I often suggest to my 10 year old players to do so. However, in life, and I’ve said this before, how many adults do you know that get to do their favourite job in winter and their other favourite job in summer? Certainly, Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are exceptional examples, and are 2 of an exceptionally few that can play 2 sports at the highest levels. If kids want to play two sports they should identify which they have the most passion for and focus on that one. The other sports they like should be strictly recreational (house level). It’s a lesson in life kids need to learn.

    I have no concern over how many players will tryout. Someone has mentioned somewhere how strong Surrey gold teams are. Well, there are loads of Metro level players there NOT playing metro because of the district rule. Nothing to stop them trying out for an HPL team in another community now. They will sufficiently replace any metro kids who choose not to play HPL. In my opinion, that’s a good thing because you get the kids in HPL that truly love soccer as opposed to the ones that happen to be good enough and it is convenient for them to play metro/HPL.

    I agree, recruiting should be monitored very closely. Although there will always be a “best team” that kids will be attracted to (and there is nothing wrong with that) teams can and should not be approaching players to “come play for me. You’ll be my captain and starting central midfielder so we can win nationals.” That is about the coach not the kid!

    • Phil Hernandez says:

      K: Eliminating Rule 23 is excellent. Provinces such as Ontario do not have this rule. This will also allow us to compete with our American counterparts who do not have district restrictions – and quite actively recruit. Now, I don’t think recruiting/poaching is acceptable.

      Sorry K, this paragraph not only does not answer why Rule 23 would necessarily impede player development but seems to contradict itself. If the removal of R23 means we will be better able to compete with our American counterparts who “quite actively recruit” and then we shut down recruiting (of the negative variety) – then what problem has the removal of the rule solved? And if you meant competing against the Americans in terms of international competitions that’s one target, (and a narrow one at that), but its not HPL’s target.

      I see absolutely nothing wrong with posting info about the coaches,
      neither do I and I said as much

      win/loss records of the clubs, trophies won/finals made,
      we can agree to disagree (although only mildly)

      scholarships won I agree

      etc etc. depends….

      There is no issue with also promoting a clubs’ history. I agree…

      Certainly no issue with stating “We won the SYL championships in 20XX”. again, I mildly disagree, but whatever

      Elite coaches do not have any “right” to recruiting. It is against BCSA policy and rightly so.
      All well and good – then why all the moaning about R23? THAT is the question I would like answered. (Even though I agree with removing the rule – from a parent/player perspective that is.)

      Well, there are loads of Metro level players there NOT playing metro because of the district rule…
      which bolsters the argument that removing R23 is good for the players not the coaches. However, my guess is that the number is far less than “loads”…

      I agree with you that recruiting will need to be monitored very very closely. I am hoping that striking R23 solves more problems than it creates.


    • Gregor says:

      The BCSA ‘poaching’ rule is only in effect during league and Cup play of the current season. There’s some grey area now that we have an overlap in season but there’s nothing stopping coaches from approaching players and asking them to change teams if their regular season is over.

      I’ve never approached a player to come and play for any team I’ve coached with the exception of goalkeepers for my current Pt. Grey team and that was all in the off-season (and none ended up coming). The issue for me is ‘over-promising’. When you start selling your team, club or program to players and parents, and they buy it, then you’ve created an expectation that can be hard to deliver on and in worst case scenarios where some bargaining is involved you create a hierarchy within your team. That’s almost always going to end in tears.

      • K says:

        Thanks for the clarification re: the off-season. Like you, I’ve never approached a player on or off season.

  17. K says:

    PH, you didn’t quite catch the meaning. American teams recruit. They do not have boundary rules (at least in WA). I do not agree with recruiting, but I do agree with open boundaries. Free market. For the record, it is against the rules for Americans to recruit, they are just good at hiding it. go to washingtonpremiersoccer.com and read all about it on the message board. Some are perfectly OK with it (the University mentality) and some abhhor it.

    I have many examples though of Gold players who are plenty good enough to play SYL-metro.

    Club and player achievements should be actively announced on web pages. There is no issue with this and it is not recruiting. I am intrigued to know why you think it is wrong. I’ll skip commenting on the rest.

    • Gregor says:

      I agree there are many gold players who, for whatever reason, are good enough to play at Metro and Y League but aren’t. My 2009 U13 Girls Coastal team had three gold players on it and they won their division and made the semi finals. All those gold players were out and out starters. This year on my PG U16 team I have several girls who are easily at a Metro level (having seen five of the U16 girls Metro teams play this season).

      • MJ says:

        And is that because they (the girls)
        1. tried out, but didn’t show well,
        2. have parents aren’t interested in any of this and just want the kids to play locally (I assume $ is not an issue in PG).
        3. recognize this for what it really is (a game), and know or have heard that Metro is not fun (and i don’t mean in a trite way, perhaps “not rewarding” is a better phrase).

      • Gregor says:

        These WordPress comments things are a bit of a pain but this is in response to MJ asking why the girls on my team didn’t take spots on Metro teams.

        1. Some have gone past years, thought they showed well and weren’t chosen. Some of those players didn’t go this past year. Two were out of town for a school trip. Another turned down a spot on an out of town Metro team.
        2. The parents are very supportive of their daughters soccer. Money is generally not a problem but PG is not univerally wealthy. The club comps a surprising number of players who wouldn’t be able to play if they had to pay.
        3. I think some measure the experience of Metro against a team where they’re happy with the other girls (many have been playing together for a long time now), the coach (me) and the fact that it’s an ambitious team (went to Dana Cup, Denmark, in 2009, going to Donosti Cup in Spain this summer). I really don’t think they see Metro as not fun or rewarding. I think several, having seen the lower half of the Metro teams in their age group, are pretty sure the difference between the top Gold 1 teams and those teams is really not that big.

        There’s this regular connection made by parents between playing at the highest level and playing post-secondary soccer. Definitely playing at the highest level gives you a huge edge in that regard but three players from the Pt. Grey U18 boys gold team from last season made the Langara College men’s team as walk ons this year. No scholarship but their parents also didn’t have to drop thousands of dollars in pursuit of this opportunity. Add in that a school like Langara is a great back door to UBC or SFU and you’ve got a nice pathway from a second tier team playing in your neighbourhood to continued play as an adult and a top notch university degree that will be much more highly regarded than some of the degrees kids come back with from their full ride scholarships in the States.

  18. K says:

    MJ, Your reasons are certainly some reasons why good gold players did not play metro. But it also then lends to the belief that with open boundaries some kids that are good enough but play gold will now be able/willing to tryout for metro.

  19. Phil Hernandez says:

    I’ve beat the ‘coaches shouldn’t care about R23’ horse to death so I’ll leave it at that. Just in case I wasn’t clear, I am all in favour of striking R23. Free market as you say, K.
    Re why I don’t think publishing past or current team achievements re win/loss, trophies etc: in my opinion it is the same as publishing who scored the most goals on a team/in a league. Its not relevant to development and it sends the message that “if you want to win, join us”. Anyway, I don’t feel that strongly about it, but I do see it as a (soft) form of recruiting.


  20. K says:

    Yes the whole “keeping scores” debate. Don’t get me started! It does sound like you and I are on pretty darn close to the same page in that regard. But I do think from u14+ you can and should start keeping scores. I also wish the u13 age in HPL should be broader than 8 teams….but anyway….

  21. J says:

    It seems there is a bit of a theme among some posters here as well as fieldside that the “higher” the level the player trains and competes at, the less fun it is for the player. This has not been our experience.

    I am somewhat directing this post to those who oppose HPL ( and really any higher level of training ) and sight things like “parents don’t want to drive”, “my kid doesn’t want to train 4 days a week”, “it’s too expensive”, “we don’t want to play in the summer” and frown on the whole idea of HPL and higher levels of development and competition (TSS, WC, Metro).
    All of the above can certainly be valid reasons to not pursue any of the soccer avenues I mentioned, but I am tiring of people pissing on the HPL concept and these organizations because a) they choose not to participate or b) their kid did not or will not make the cut ( this year ).

    While I recognize that the environment is more serious, the training more intense and there may at least appear that there is more at stake, my child has a blast in that environment and looks forward to each practice just as she has and does in her club environment.
    Even at the highest level ( and I would guess that both those who train with and run TSS & WC would agree ) the vast majority very much enjoy their time there both socially with their teammates as well as the ‘work’ with the staff.

    Without trying to sound like a soccer snob, would the house player or the player who struggles to make gold, thrive and ENJOY all the Metro or HPL programming ( or TSS or WC ) the same way? Perhaps not, perhaps the pressure on them would be different and it would become a negative chore, this doesn’t mean that the parents who DO have their kids in these programs are fanatical and that their kids are not having fun.

    BTW, I recognize this is a rant and a bit off topic. Just please don’t whine to me about the HPL if you’re not even going to be involved either because you choose not to for whatever reason or because your player isn’t quite there yet.
    These kids ( and thier parents… sniff sniff ) ; ) shouldn’t feel like outcasts for doing well and wanting it all, even though there will be others who will be left in their wake.

    Am I wrong or isn’t THIS exactly the player that HPL wants?

    • Gregor says:

      I actually thought the support for HPL in the comments here was really strong. I think you can be strongly in favour of the idea though and still question the processes being used to get it off the ground and the cost of it. As has been pointed out, there’s a lot of horse before cart happening here to take advantage of the momentum and current levels of support so that means there’s now a list of questions that people are asking that there aren’t easy answers for.

      Some polling would really have been a good idea. HPL can be a great idea but if the best players (and their parents) don’t buy into it, it won’t be able to become what it is intended to be.

  22. R says:

    I am parent whose child will not be involved in HPL, not at that skill level, but may be someday because a lot happens to them physically and mentally between the ages of U13 to U18. I am not against HPL and back in my youth I would have had a good shot at playing at that level. I’ve been following this blog for the last week and I haven’t really seen anyone dumping HPL. I think the idea and concept is fine but I don’t see enough pieces in place to exacute this in the time frame they have given themselves. I think the Franchises should have been determined 6 months ago. A poll of interested players should have already been done so as the Franchises could be watching the potential candidates play right now in game situations which to me makes for a better evaluation. They want to start try-outs in a couple of months yet they have no Head Coaches, Assistant Coaches or Mangers in place. The players have the option to jump boarders which is fine but how do they shop around for a Franchise when none have even been developed. With the time line they have all I see is them setting up for failure. The HPL will directly affect all of Youth soccer down to Silver 3. Wating for Selects to set their roster and then Gold and then Silver, it’s June before it’s all done. With HPL in the mix now it could well be summer before some Silver teams have evaluations which some may already be out of town which causes a whole slew of problems at the Club level. There just seems to be too many questions, who’s driving this? Where are the Board of Governors? Is there anyone with authority to answer any of the concerns brought up in this blog? Another question I have is what is the viability of the Selects/Metro league? With Vancouver FC charging $1300 in fees for a 2nd tier league now doesn’t sound very attractive.

    • Gregor says:

      Rob’s definitely right about a couple of things. The first is the rush to evaluate players. It’s surprising given BCSA’s insistence that we get away from the concept of “tryouts” (a series of scrimmages used to pick a specific team and move towards “evaluations” that are season long and ongoing. We have adapted our own “Evaluation Policies” to do just that but it’s not going to be the case at HPL (for some of the ‘cart before horse’ reasons I mentioned in my reply to J above).

      Here’s the kicker…I’m being told that the players picked for the teams next month will be on these teams right through the 2012 HPL season. I find this hard to believe but more than one person has said that there doesn’t seem to be any plan to have additional tryouts/evaluations in February 2012 for the start of the actual HPL season. If anyone has info to the contrary on this, please post it.

      Second thing I agree with in Rob’s post is that there will be a substantial trickle down effect on the levels below HPL and I really hope they are aware of this and try to compact their team selection process so it doesn’t force us to run gold and silver evaluations months after we normally would.

      • K says:

        Gregor, I would suggest the decision to not re-evaluate for 2012 was club-specific. ASA will have ongoing evals, as far as I am aware – certainly we are constantly evaluating at u12 and down.

  23. J says:

    “R” good comment and yes it certainly seems that so much is still up in the air that it’s scary. My only hope is that the powers that be presumably already have many ideas for solutions to the issues we all have bantered about here.
    Is this wishfull thinking on my part? Maybe eh? ; )

    Regarding your comment ; “A poll of interested players should have already been done so as the Franchises could be watching the potential candidates play right now in game situations which to me makes for a better evaluation.”

    Agreed that may make for a “better” evaluation but the thing is, “they” HAVE been watching, they are always watching. If you were to ask the TD ( and or staff ) of each of these HPL applicants, I’m sure with not too much effort they could list for you 2/3’s of their HPL teams anticipated lineup already.

    Agreed…lot’s of questions at this point.

    • R says:

      Ya your right. I’m sure they know at least 2/3 ‘s of the players that are at that level of play but how many are going to commit to the league? Probably most if there anything like I was. The one thing that I would be concerned about would be if I’m shelling out big bucks and my child is riding the bench am I getting a very good return on my investment or would he or she be better off dropping down a tier and develop more? Let’s face it, at some of the numbers floating around this is an investment for either a career in soccer or potential scholarships. Both of which only a very small percentage will achieve.Another thing to throw out there is to maybe start out with U14 to U16 and hold off on the U18 for a year until the U16 are ready to move up. To finish up your final year of youth soccer in a brand new league with growing pains may not be great for their development or potential future either. Just a thought.

      • J says:

        Good points R and ones that all parents should think about. (including myself ) Perhaps not always is it best for the kid to be placed on the highest level possible team who’s lineup they can crack.
        For me if it came to that type of decision, I would probably then look long and hard at the coaching options,( ie; which squad do I feel has the better coach for my kid ), the cost and the kids own feeling / opinion / desire.
        LOL…I didn’t intentionally put the kids desire last. : )

    • Gregor says:

      The first two thirds is always the easy part of any team selection though. It’s getting those last 5 or 6 picks right that needs particular attention and additional knowledge of those ‘bubble’ players.

  24. K says:

    “R” – Yes, TD’s of the various clubs will already be well aware of their club and oppositions best players at the metro/gold level. Most TD’s are right there on the field at training anyway. So yes, scouting is already done/being done.

    “J” – I’d suggest to you that VFC will have no choice but to seriously reduce their fee’s. Especially as their best players will join the Richmond-Vancouver HPL club should they be granted a spot (they will be). You will see parent-coaches at the gold/metro level far more frequently now. No need to have the high fees.

    Gold-Silver-Bronze tryouts shouldn’t be until Summer anyway. Having them in spring does nothing to recognize the physical and mental changes in teens and kids from Spring to September. Had loads of kids show great at tryout and stink in the Fall, and vice versa.

  25. Brendan Quarry says:

    Re: “I’m sure with not too much effort they could list for you 2/3′s of their HPL teams anticipated lineup already.” I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Unless these head coaches have been coaching in the age group already, I doubt this to be the case. And even if they have been coaching in the age group, let’s remember that the 95 and 94 borns will be combining for U17/U18. So for example, on the girls side when selecting the U17/U18 girls HPL team from North Shore/Burnaby (assuming North Shore/Burnaby get a franchise), players will be trying out with all the players from the 95 North Shore metro team, the 94 North Shore metro team, the 94 Burnaby metro team, and the 94 Cliff Avenue metro team. That’s 4 teams worth of metro players competing for 18 spots. Not sure that’s going to be easy – nor do I believe they’ll know in advance 2/3 of the team.

    • MJ says:

      Interesting example you have chosen, Brendan, because 3 of the 4 teams will be grade 12s next year and based on what information there is, it’s unclear whether they will even be selected since they won’t be able to play the second half of the season (after they graduate). Unless the league allows for teams (of grade 12s) to drop out in June (and good luck getting grade 12s to concentrate on soccer in May and June!). That leaves only 1 Metro team plus imports.

      • Brendan Quarry says:

        MJ, why wouldn’t they play after June? There are countless high level grade 12 players who play in the summer before they go to college – including the Whitecaps Prospects who compete in the PCSL Premier League. TSS is about to field an entire team of 93 metro players this summer (grade 12).

      • Phil Hernandez says:

        Well yes, except for the fact that the HPL basically shuts down after June for 5-7 weeks according to their current periodization plan. July is for Provincial Team programming and then there’s a Tranisition period of 2 or 3 weeks before it starts up again on mid to late August.

  26. Colin Elmes says:

    Brendan, this is my gig. you are not supposed to be on here.

  27. Colin Elmes says:

    This bad cop wrap is over blown. I just ask the awkward questions

  28. Mitch says:

    We keep talking about if we bring all the best players together into the HPL the players will develope better skill because they are playing with ‘like minded’ kids. I don’t have a problem with my kid doing 3-4 sessions per week as long as they don’t ignore the individual skill building and only focus on team. That is why we take our kid to academies, like TSS, Tullis,etc, so that they build on their individual skills and take that back to their team. Like most families we will not be able to afford HPL and outside academies (sorry Colin 😦 ).My fear is that HPL will be driven by ‘results’ only on the field and forget about the development of individual skill. So for my kid…coaching will be everything.

    My other beef is the lack of information. They will name the franchises and shortly after post the tryouts. As parents, we have some major decisions to make in a short period of time with very little, to no, information made available to us so far. I want to know who are the coaches and why should I take my kid to them. None of these potential franchises have put out any “recruiting” material selling their program and coaching staff. If you are going to throw around the word ‘franchise’ = ‘business’, then where’s the business plan? Give us some options now, so that when tryouts are posted , I’m not taking my kid to 2-3 tryouts looking for a quality coach and program. Clubs (franchises) you need to start marketing yourselves NOW so we can make an informed decision prior to the posting of the tryouts.

    • K says:

      You won’t see anything like that, Mitch, until the franchises are awarded. IE, South Fraser SC can’t go out and announce coaches and hire them if they don’t know they will have teams to give the coaches. I think the final application is supposed to include a list of coaches though? But I wonder if that list would just be a list of who is currently coaching in the club affiliations – ie, the Pacific Athletic bid could simply post all the top coaches in the 4-5 club amalgamation. Whether those guys will coach for PAFC is another matter.

      • Gregor says:

        I know that’s the case with at least two franchise applications: they’re just putting a list of coaches they have currently at the club level and not putting specific names to specific teams.

        This is going to lead to a degree of misrepresentation. I know my name’s on an app (not Colin’s) and, as I’ve said, I won’t be able to coach a team.

        Still, I understand somewhat why applicants can’t really make those announcements until they have a franchise and why some coaches wouldn’t want that announced until there’s total certainty that the franchise will exist.

  29. Joel Hunt says:

    Mitch, yes, great point about the lack of info. The scary thing is that outside of the people heading up the possible HPL organizations, BC Soccer, WC etc, the people are are conversing on this forum probably know the MOST, and clearly we are largely in the dark. ( granted some know more than others )
    The majority of the parents of kids on my childs current gold club team know far far less, several don’t even know it exists yet. They will be making decisions on HPL tryouts etc based on very little information, granted I imagine that more info will come down soon but it will be a bit of a rush to learn what you can as fast as you can so you can make the best informed decisions possible.

    Gregor, in regards to my lengthy rant on people pissing on HPL as well as the higher development programs, agreed, most posters here have not been the culprits, there have been just a few and much of what I was bitching about perhaps comes more from fieldside when chatting with or eavesdropping on other parents.
    There was a comment posted, something to the effect of “the kids still need to have fun” with the implication that higher levels means no fun and it kind of set me off.

    I’ve heard parents criticize ( behind their backs of course ) the parents of kids who play and train more than their own kid does and sight that training the amount that their kid does is fun, the kids who train more can’t be having fun.

    It’s like one of Jerry Seinfelds jokes, “isn’t it funny that when you’re driving, anyone going faster than you is a crazed maniac and anyone driving slower than you is going too damn slow and should get off the road!?” IE; the assumption that you are driving exactly the right speed.

    • Gregor says:

      re: lack of info on HPL.

      I know. I just got in from a full day of watching games and HPL was easily the thing I was asked about most. The knowledge that most of the people had was at best incomplete and at worst way off base. It’s a real concern.

      • K says:

        Well the thing about people having info…I know ASA has distributed HPL info. If the coaches don’t then forward the info and/or the parents don’t read the info….

  30. Colin Elmes says:

    Then ASA gets 20 players out at the assessment and the standard is a shambles

  31. K says:

    Now now, play nice big fella.

  32. Colin Elmes says:

    I am a realist. When the info doesnt reach the required destinations this is what occurs. Plain and simple

  33. K says:

    Can’t control what info the parents choose to read. My u11’s are a shining example of that this year! An info meeting has been announced for weeks now….

  34. Colin Elmes says:

    K, thats the old way of thinking. This is business now and you MUST make sure the message gets into the proper hands or you will fail

  35. K says:

    The old way of thinking is having a public forum? You mean to say advertising on the web, newspaper, email and In-person first don’t count as the new way?

    At what point does it become the parents’/members responsibility to accept, seek, and actually take-in the information? Not after speaking in person 1-on-1? Not after emailing directly? Not after speaking with the staff? Not after providing a public forum? How can having a public, open meeting announced to the entire community be viewed as not good enough? At some point it becomes the members’ responsibility to be an active participant in the club in which they participate in.

    How is Sportstown FC providing the information to its members and ensuring all parties/members are aware adequately? If your method is working and as a proponent of the HPL this should be shared so all can distribute the info adequately? How many members are you attempting to communicate the info? Is the staff size comparable to a bid such as Surrey FC which is combing 3 clubs? My point is, if you are not having to communicate with as vast an audience you should not criticize. If you are communicating with such a vast audience and your method is working please enlighten.

    • Rich says:

      Personally I think the HPL committee would be advised to have a series of town hall meetings throughout the lower mainland. These would be open to all prospective franchises as well any parents/kids that want to attend. The same message getting out to all the people. As it is at present there are too many misunderstandings out there. The committee is full of very knowledgeable and respected soccer people. At present I get the feeling that parents, coaches and adminitrators view this committee as being up there on a pedestal and I think they need to get of it and get into the communities they are effecting. ‘The message’ is getting passed from mouth to mouth and it’s getting too vague with every passing.

      • Rich says:

        Of course these meetings would have to be held on the Island and Valley also.

      • K says:

        I’d suggest each HPL club/prospective franchise should be holding these meetings, not the HPL committee itself. ASA is holding one on February 4th. I would imagine you are free to attend, Rich?

        Don’t go throwing stones, Colin. You condemned a club’s method of distributing info. All I asked for was a better way to go about it. All of BC soccer’s youth players would be well served if you have an improved method.

  36. Colin Elmes says:

    This is business now K. Intellectual property will be shared when appropriate if at all.

  37. Colin Elmes says:

    Its not just about Abby, K. Dont get all hot.Its a comment on the generally poor communications lines that occur within clubs because of a mix of volunteers with varying degrees of time(and care) mixed with overwhelmed paid administrators.

    • Rich says:


      VFC have their info meeting on the 9th Feb. I’ll attend that one. I suspect most franchises will be having like meetings in order to pass on information. At all these meetings there will be many questions that go unanswered because the HPL committee are the people who have set this whole thing in motion and they won’t be there to help provide the clarity needed. Time lines for the second tier etc etc… I just think that an important step is being missed here, that’s all.

  38. D says:

    I have been trying to follow all the comments back and forth on the HPL and have not sent any comments of my own. It has been great to read the dialogue. I am sure lots of people are reading and have been or still are lurking like myself. I wondered about a few things but the one that I am thinking about at the moment is the responsibility these new HPL franchises have to the development of the game in this province. So my thinking goes as follows.

    A few people seem to have talked a bit about some franchises being stronger than others and in the end results measuring strength or success. I suppose we live in a culture where this will always be part of how things are analyzed. I am a little surprised nobody has talked in a more focused way about the responsibility these new HPL clubs have to play the game a certain way. That this league has a responsibility to have a positive effect on the culture of the game in this province. To play the game the right way. To play with a philosophy that says its ok to make mistakes and to have a huge and authentic commitment to assisting players become better technically. For me the league as a whole has a huge responsibility to lead the way in this province in how players are trained or coached to play. I have read glimpses of this, but I believe this core principle has in large part been skirted around. Hopefully the franchises and their respective people in charge do not lose sight of this and they are able to “philosophically” set things up with this as a focal point of what they do. I do believe there is a danger it will get lost because of the dollar values being played and the parental demand for success (something that they usually measure by results). If the leading clubs in the province (HPL teams) have no ambition to push the boundaries of performance and how teams play then an opportunity will be lost. As Arsene Wenger recently commented his “ambition is to win but to win with style”. I think this league must try to do the same.

    This naturally leads a a second point which many have discussed and that is the quality and availability of coaches. Lots has been said, particularly in regard to if there is a large enough pool of good quality coaches. If you want coaches that are generally good organizers, run decent practices that keep kids busy etc, then I think in the end most people will be satisfied. If you want coaches that have a keen eye for developing technique, can motivate players to practice technique, give kids the confidence to apply this technique in their game performances, and have the capacity to see the “bigger picture” of what they are doing, then I think then answer is a complete and overwhelming no, there are nowhere near enough quality coaches available.

  39. D says:

    I commented before and I will again about the quality and availability of coaches who should be working in this league. Some people have used the term “teachers” in relation to describing the type of person they want working with these players. Great, but there is such a huge difference between a teacher and a coach. Most coaches know the game. They generally have no training and know very little about feedback, assessment methodologies, setting goals, individualizing or differentiating what they do with players and on and on. Certification such as a B licence probably produces coaches that are generally good organizers, run decent practices that keep kids busy etc, with set plays that have a chance to work. If you want coaches that understand how players learn, can motivate without punishment, have a keen eye for developing technique, can give kids the confidence to apply this technique in their game performances, can provide timely and accurate feedback, work with those “teachable moments”, know how to and have the capacity to see the “bigger picture” of what they are doing, then I think then answer is a complete and overwhelming no, there are nowhere near enough quality coaches available.

    So what BC soccer should do is set themselves up as the quality service provider when it comes to coach development. Part of this league should be mandatory and ongoing professional development for coaches. Set up sessions where coaches, instead of competing with one another, share ideas, thoughts, knowledge about what is taking place, not just within clubs but across clubs. BC soccer coaches should be leading us in this. They should be helping to set the bar for the expectations people can have of these coaches. If a coach is not prepared to do this and try to learn more about the game then they are actually not right for working in this league. There should also be a new and evolving coach curriculum. If you want teachers of the game then you will have to provide help to these coaches who want to become teachers otherwise the old habits of competition will take center stage and you will have coaches.

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