HPL and 2nd tier play next season: U14 and U16 girls case study

I think it’s generally accepted that when you choose to go through a gut-wrenching overhaul of a system and put processes in place to effect change, there is an end goal in mind and that goal is the substantial betterment of whatever the change is being applied to.

In the case of youth soccer we are in the midst of a shift to a new elite league – HPL. Some very smart changes are being incorporated (new playing season, free player movement, franchise quantity controls) and despite the considerable disruptions there will be to most clubs next season it’s a necessary evil for anyone who wants to see elite level soccer better positioned for players who want to go on to compete at the highest levels.

But again, this process should lead to desired outcomes and one obvious outcome should be that the HPL, and whatever the second tier of soccer ends up being called, should be competitive leagues with a high degree of parity. Limiting franchises is supposed to weed out the teams that drag the overall level of play down and provide a suitable environment for development rather than a handful of competitive games and an equal number of blowouts that benefit nobody. It then becomes incumbent on the franchises being considered to demonstrate that they will indeed be able to field competitive teams.

The question then becomes: will HPL accomplish this overall or perhaps more so at some age groups than others. You get fairly different answers if you assess what next year’s U14 girls HPL will look like compared to next year’s U16’s.

We’ve reached a point in the season where it’s clear which teams in the top two tiers (Metro/Selects and Gold 1) are doing well. I’m going to break down the U13 and U15 girls divisions today (next year’s U14 and U16 HPL) and, going by my earlier predictions of who I think will get HPL franchises, look at how those various HPL and 2nd tier divisions will look like next season. This analysis omits the Okanagan and the Island as there’s not enough info to make fair comparisons (and let’s face it, they’re getting franchises anyways).

Looking at next year’s U14 scenario though, the current U13 Gold 1 standings make a few things clear:

If you go on the basis that the six Lower Mainland franchises will be: Abby (AB), Surrey United (SU), Metro Ford (CMF), South Fraser (SF), Vancouver-Richmond (VR) and North Shore – Burnaby (NSB) then the first thing that strikes you is that the idea of limiting HPL to six teams is perfect for divisions like this. As per usual there are tons of U13 Gold 1 teams. 16 this year. Boiling them down to the six HPL franchises means this

AB: Have no team of their own so will be reliant on the Langley FC and Golden Ears girls (11th and 13th place). This highlights the dilemma in giving Abby a franchise. Will they be able to compete in a league with just six franchises when they either have no team or a weak team and little to draw from?

SU: Currently the third best team from Surrey in the division but if Surdel Peg don’t get a franchise and the Golden Ears/Pitt Meadows bid also falls short, SU will benefit massively from an influx of players from SBAA and Surrey FC Peg; clearly two of the strongest teams in the league.

CMF: This is what makes HPL a tough pill for clubs like Port Moody. They have a substantially better team than Metro Ford at this age group but will lose their best players to CMF’s HPL team next season. Then they don’t even know if they’ll be given a Metro team so they could end up going from being one of the strongest BCCGSL U13 gold 1 teams to having a team that plays in the third tier of play next season (Gold). CMF will have the pick of not just Port Moody but the overachieving Royal City Salsa, Golden Ears and likely some Burnaby girls from eithe Cliff or BGSC to augment a middle of the pack team.

SF: With just a Semiahmoo team (SSC Rocks) in the division, they will look to pull Richmond girls south and some of the players from SBAA and Surrey FC south.

VR: An obviously strong Richmond team will anchor the VR HPL team in this age group with two weak Vancouver teams buttressing the effort. With two of the three training sessions scheduled for Vancouver (and an expectation the HPL teams will train at Empire Field once the stadium is torn down and two turf fields replace it) it will be tough to draw players from south Surrey but there may be some appeal for Burnaby players who will drive right by there on their way over the Second Narrows to NSB training sessions.

NSB: A relatively healthy age group with a strong-ish North Shore Girls team, two middle of the pack Burnaby girls teams (if they can stop them from imploding as Burnaby U13 girls teams have done the past two seasons) and a bottom third West Van team. Should be fine.

If I were to rank them it would look like this:

  1. Surrey United
  2. CMF (if their traditional drawing power holds)
  3. North Shore-Burnaby (if they get most of the stronger Burnaby girls)
  4. Vancouver Richmond (if enough don’t opt out to play other sports; a concern)
  5. South Fraser
  6. Abby

It’s really not intended to be a dig at Abby. I think if Golden Ears/Pitt Meadows were picked ahead of Abby they would be staring at exactly the same problem in just as many age groups.

Now looking at the second tier, you really have to make some big assumptions because there’s been virtually no discussion of who will pick these teams. All we’ve been told is that the league will be limited to twelve teams. By stating there will be a limit, there is an implicit selection process to determine who will be allowed in and who won’t. It’s being assumed the six HPL franchises will also get a Metro franchise but there is nothing I’ve seen to suggest this is a given. There is actually a lingering movement in at least two Districts to scrap Metro all together and free up the HPL franchises to focus solely on those and leave the second tier of play as Gold 1 to be run by non HPL franchises. I’ll look at why that may be a good idea when we look at next year’s U16’s. Whether that has legs or not is anybody’s guess but if you assume it’s not going to happen and that there are six Metro franchises up for grabs, the logical contenders are:

  1. Port Moody
  2. Surrey Breakers
  3. Surrey FC Peg
  4. Cliff Ave or BGSC (whoever loses fewer players to HPL; maybe both)
  5. West Van

It definitely helps to have a high number of teams at U13 to draw U14 HPL teams. It should ensure a good standard of play and still leave a healthy second tier.

Not quite the same for this year’s U15s moving on to form next year’s U16 HPL. Current Metro standings:

With just ten Lower Mainland teams, the pool to draw HPL teams from is considerably less. Applying the same assumptions as above:

AB: Will once again struggle. They have a last place team and the only place they can realistically draw from is Pitt Meadows (half hour drive?) or maybe some Semi players who don’t mind the speed bumps along 0 Avenue.

SU: One of the only age groups (the only?) that Surrey United don’t have a Metro team. Compounding the problem is the lack of a Langley team to the east (even though they’re supposed to be working with Abby). SU will be reliant on being able to bring in the best Surrey FC and SBAA players to be able to field a competitive team.

CMF: Poised to dominate this age group. Already the best team in the division, they are likely to draw the best Pitt Meadows players as well.

CF: There’s already been an overture by those running the Tsawwassen  team to be the de facto CF team. This is an unusual team already with three strong Richmond players, two professional coaches and strong financial backing from a parent. CF will need them as there is only a relatively weak Semi team in their region.

VR: Vancouver and Richmond are in fifth and sixth place which looks relatively healthy until you see how the standings gap between fourth and fifth and realize that Vancouver are below .500 and Richmond, having played fewer games, are right at .500. If the Tsawassen team stays intact and moves almost wholly to SF then that means VR won’t get any of their players and will struggle.

NSB: North Shore Girls are on their own here so just as well they’re one of the stronger teams. Very little to draw from unless the stronger Vancouver girls opt out of the VR team.


  1. CMF
  2. SU (if they can reach out to the other Surrey club’s strongest players)
  3. South Fraser (if they get the Tsawwassen team)
  4. North Shore – Burnaby
  5. Vancouver – Richmond
  6. Abby

And what does that leave for a second tier? Can any of these HPL franchises really make a claim to having enough depth to run a second tier team as well? CMF could but not many others. Given that the Metro division goes from 10 to 6 HPL teams (ostensibly leaving four teams worth of players for the second tier) and that the current U15 Gold 1 standings look like this:

You could argue that the simple solution is to have Pitt Meadows, Surrey FC, SBAA and Semiahmoo enter Metro teams with all of the Gold 1 teams while merging the two last place North Shore Gold teams.  That flies in the face of HPL teams also running the second tier but, with the exception of CMF and NSB  for this division (although the NSB second tier team is a stretch), it would require a massive number of players to leave their current club to go to an HPL franchise just so they could play second tier soccer. Is that a desired outcome or more like collateral damage?

This is where the whole idea of Metro breaks down. This is not going to be anything but a very marginally stronger division at U16 Metro than it is at U15 Gold 1 yet having HPL franchises run half the teams causes considerably more disruption than the simple solution suggested above.

You can see that the idea of having the HPL franchises run the second tier works much better when  combining the two oldest divisions.

Simple math for the U18 HPL division (remember there’s no U17) and the assumption that Metro will follow suit and match up age wise and eliminate their U17 division means you will have nine Lower Mainland U16 Metro teams (Abby don’t have a team but Chilliwack do) and six U17 Lower Mainland Metro teams forming the basis of the U18 HPL teams. Several of the (assumed) HPL franchises would be able to field both HPL and Metro teams at U18 without completely destabilizing surrounding clubs in order to field the second tier teams because they have teams in both these divisions already (or have partner clubs that do).

I may try to do a similar look at some of the boys divisions sometime soon but for now you can see that the intended outcome of HPL is going to be felt substantially more in some age groups more than others and some of the franchises are going to have some serious hurdles to overcome if they want to be competitive. If geographic distribution of the franchises is going to trump the ability to demonstrate genuine competitiveness across the board then there’s a good chance we won’t avoid one of the major issues with Metro soccer: blowouts and a general lack of consistently challenging games for the better players.

The second question this raises is whether it’s wise to have a uniform policy on the granting of second tier franchises or whether it should be a function of how disruptive it would be to neighbouring clubs to compel HPL franchises to run second tier teams when they clearly don’t have the inherent depth to do so.

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62 Responses to HPL and 2nd tier play next season: U14 and U16 girls case study

  1. K says:

    I just wonder if you are overlooking the removal of boundaries too much here? Reminder, Abby girls HPL is being based in Langley.

    I guess girls don’t play out-of-district as much as boys? I really am oblivious there.

    Looking at these standings is about the only measuring stick we have as no one knows the bid packages. But not fully relevant because of the removal of rule 23 in HPL, but then keeping in mind rule 23 is still in effect in District 4 and 5.

    I don’t know if you’ll see an HPL franchise in the lower tiers at all though? Other than the HPL franchises which remain in tact as they stand and are not amalgamations.

    I’d be interested in seeing the boys breakdown!

  2. Gregor says:

    I know what you’re saying but I still think players that are willing to travel ‘out of district’ do so for one of three reasons (a) to be on a better team, (b) so they can make a team at a level they couldn’t make closer to home, and (c) to get better coaching.

    For teams like Abby, on the girls side, players aren’t going there to be on a better team and getting players that couldn’t make Surrey United or Metro Ford isn’t going to help them be competitive. They will be relying on drawing strong players on the basis of having superior coaches.

  3. Julie says:

    Geez Gregor, this is a very useful analysis for our family. We live in East Vancouver and have no problems travelling to North Shore, Burnaby, Richmond or staying in Vancouver. We currently have one daughter playing U13 Gold Burnaby (spot-on about imploding) and another U15 Metro Vancouver (spot-on analysis again). I say we’d take a look first at who the coaches are. Guess Sportstown FC is out?

  4. Canadian Spur says:

    I disagree with the tier 2 being restricted in the same manner as the HPL. Even though they may be talking about 12 teams this has the potential to damage some good community clubs if they end up restricted to tier 3. We also have to remember that rule 23 is not being eliminated for tier 2 so player movement/playing out of district becomes a real issue unlike HPL. Since the district boundaries vary so greatly between the boys and girls program the analysis that you make for the girls might not work for the boys. If Pitt Meadows/ Golden Ears don’t get HPL they have to get tier 2 as they are out of district for CMF, SU, and Abby or else their players are left with only tier 3 as the highest level. This may create unbalance at the lower tiers as clubs having tier 3 as their top team often have players that could be playing higher (ie. tier 2) but are not able or willing to travel for less than top tier soccer. See the current Pitt Meadows U15 boys silver team. They are the club’s top team at that age and definitely have players that could make several gold teams at that age.
    What I don’t want to see is district teams at tier 2 like we have now in the Select/Metro League. Let the clubs run the teams and let the districts stick to administration. Maintaining the Select/Metro league means that we have added a level of bureaucracy that is not needed. HPL should replace Metro/Select – Full Stop. Yes some clubs will field teams at tier 2 that are uncompetitive if entrance is unrestricted but that happens at Metro/Select now and as Gregor’s analysis shows above will likely happen even with restricted access so what are we really gaining by keeping the Metro/Select leagues.
    I coach in the Tri-Cities and what we see now is that CMF has every level covered at every age and the tier 2 (gold) is sporadically covered by the other clubs (Port Moody, North Coquitlam, PoCo). The strength or even the existence of the gold teams varies across the other clubs greatly by age group but there is still sufficient coverage for all players. If we were to say that CMF and Port Moody get the only tier 2 teams for example, North Coquitlam would lose some very good gold teams and the club would be greatly harmed (some CMF people might see this as a good thing 😉 ). PoCo is currently out of district for boys so this doesn’t help.
    Let tier 2 operate as the current gold league with the standard being raised by some current Metro/Select players not making the HPL.

    • Gregor says:

      Good points about how problematic associating second tier teams with HPL franchises is when (a) Rule 23 is still in effect and (b) the District boundaries for boys and girls are not the same.

      I was surprised that the HPL committee didn’t push for the elimination of Metro/Selects for those reasons and also, as we both mentioned, the destabilizing effect it will have on ‘feeder’ clubs.

  5. Gregor says:

    Thanks Julie.
    Sportstown is on the outside looking in much to Colin’s chagrin. He told me he was warmly received at a mtg for Rmd coaches last night to discuss HPL but until TSS’s relationship with BCSA is clarified and solidified they are fighting a losing battle.

    One thing I should have clarified is there’s a difference between who I think will get a franchise and who I would pick if I was looking to achieve the optimal elite league.

    The HPL season is going to be a 21 game schedule (each team will play the others three times) so if you you’re want to stick with approximately that quantity of games, I’d give the Island and Okanagan one season to show they’re competitive and if they’re not, along with any other Lower Mainland franchise (sorry but Abby is the one that keeps coming to mind) I’d dump them and purse a relationship with the top Washington State clubs.

    Even if we have to start with an HPL league that has five franchises, I’d go with that and have them play each other four teams and build in home and away exhibitions against two or three top Seattle clubs like Crossfire.

    The intent is to make the elite league better. Therefore the number of teams should be a function of overall talent depth. Geographic considerations, BCSA status (in the case of Sportstown) should be distant, secondary considerations the more I think about it. What’s the point in doing all this work to create a compromised top tier league? Do we want a platform for elite player development or not? If that platform sustained ten or twelve franchises that would be great but it doesn’t. I think eight is a stretch and if the organizers agree, toss out the pre-ordained six plus two, go with fewer and put those who can deliver what’s needed in charge of them.

    If you go on the basis of picking applicants best capable of providing everything necessary to putting competitive teams on the field, Sportstown is far from the weakest candidate in the field.

    • Phil Hernandez says:

      My reading of BCSA’s periodization and jurisdictional proposal sets the number of matches at “approximately 40”.

      http://www.bcsoccer.net/bcsa/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=IxQ3e–f51M%3d&tabid=243 (page 3)

      Perhaps this includes friendlies and tournaments.

      • Gregor says:

        The problem for me now is I’m starting to forget what people tell me is on the record and what’s off the record. Maybe my Hunter S. Thompson halloween costume was a sign of sloppy journalism ethics to come…

        I was told league play would be 21 games but I can’t remember who told me and if it was okay to put it out there. Oh well. But you’re right that the periodization chart indicates more.

      • Canadian Spur says:

        The bid proposal said to budget for 2 trips each to the island and Okanagan so I assumed that you would play each team home and away twice for 28 games.

      • Gregor says:

        Maybe. Or maybe they’re trying to mitigate travel for the Island and Okanagan teams so that the Lower Mainland teams will travel four times (twice to Victoria and twice to Kelowna) and the Island and Okanagan teams will travel seven times (once to each of the other franchises; with the third Island v Okanagan game being a coin toss to see who hosts and who travels again).

  6. thiku says:

    I don’t believe joining with Washington State is the answer. They have their own circumstances. We need to focus on BC. Regional play would be great in a “champions league” format. They already have that in place with Washington and BC could just join that. BC needs to take care of BC/Canada. (ie, we need a national youth and adult league).

    I here what you are saying re: OOD and reasons for travelling.

    Quick question though – Gold is being called Tier 3. I have read time and again that it is recommended the “left over” metro teams join with the top Gold teams. To form a “new” 2nd tier. Thoughts? There is a web site on Van Island about how to reform Van Island 2nd tier. I wonder if District 4 and 5 shouldn’t come together to do the same thing immediately following the announcement of the franchises? I guess it will have to be sorted pretty much before tryouts that occur in April/May as most clubs do?

    • Canadian Spur says:

      Thiku, There are various meetings going on at the district level about what to do with Tier 2 and there doesn’t seem to be any real consensus unfortunately. Some of the people running the Select league still want to pretend that they are running an elite league and don’t want to change. I would have thought there would be less issues on the girls Metro side as the Metro league is less restrictive in in entrance requirements (one of its problems really) but I’ve been told that there is a lot of disagreement at Girls North District meetings about what direction tier 2 should take.

      The HPL committee recomended the merger of Metro/Select and that the top gold teams move up into this league joining the clubs not making HPL. I think they got it backwards. The clubs not making HPL should drop down to gold, improving the gold league rather than having a waterdown Metro/Select. It may seem a bit like semantics and it may sound like they would be one and the same but not in the minds of the people running the Leagues.

      • Bruce says:

        No one is questioning the fact that the Metro/Select player caliber will drop with the advent of HPL. How much is to be seen. Will there even be as many select teams next year? Getting rid of rule 23 would certainly help the second tier – teams could then contract to ensure a more consistent standard.

        I’d like to see the standards in training at the second tier remain at the Metro/Select level. It does no one any good to have a large void between the top tier and second tier. Pushing down the 40% – 50% of the metro/select level players left out of HPL to a parent coached, 2 training session / week (sometimes on gravel) program will undermine everything the HPL is trying to achieve.

      • Phil Hernandez says:

        Sounds great but where are we going to come up with the coaches? I’m having a diffcult time imagining that people will be happy with the jump in cost if the coach is the same person that was coaching their child at Metro last season for 1/5th the money. The sad fact is that coaching at Tier 2 has a better chance of dropping in quality than staying the same as (some)Metro/Select coaches bolt for the lucre of the HPL.

    • Canadian Spur says:


      The 2nd teir will likely be a volunteer coached league as most current Metro/Select coaches will be in HPL. Where will the coaches come from for the tier 2 Metro/Select league? I don’t think there are enough high quality “professional” coaches to staff both he HPL and Tier 2. I dont know how many current gold team teams will train on gravel but if HPL trains 3 times a week and takes that turf time this will impact field availability for tier 2 no matter what tier 2 is called. I coach Silver and train twice a week on turf but maybe that is just my club.

      Keeping Metro/Select league doesn’t mean keeping the staus quo at that level. The resources used by Metro/Slected will be redistributed up to HPL and tier will have to adapt.

      Unfortunately rule 23 remains for tier 2 and I don;t see that changing so whatever we end up with at tier 2 we will still deal with out of district issues.

  7. thiku says:

    Either way gold and metro/select should combine maybe? They might combine by default. People aren’t really arguing about what to call the level though are they? Does it matter if they call it Gold, Metro, or Rep?

    D4 and D5 will never please everyone. I wish them luck. Maybe an online discussion will help …

    They aren’t in an easy spot.

    • Canadian Spur says:

      They are not arguing about what to call the level but rather how it will be run and by whom. Should it be open to all or restricted to selected clubs/franchises? Will HPL clubs be restricted to affiliating with only 2 or 3 tier 2 teams for player call-ups? Will HPL clubs automatically have a tier 2 team?

      My view is that the Metro/Select advocates want to be HPL div 2 to maintain the appearance of still being part of the top level. I’m hoping the community clubs will have enough voices to prevail at the districts and eliminate the Metro/Select league as we really don’t need 2 exclusive leagues. I could be wrong but I don’t think the HLP clubs would want a restricted tier 2 league. The coalition bids need to be able to satisfy all of their (in some cases many) constituent clubs and I know CMF does not support a restricted tier 2. Taking the tier 2 players from the feeder clubs makes no sense if the HPL clubs want to maintain regional support.

  8. Phil Hernandez says:

    Gregor wrote:
    “Now looking at the second tier, you really have to make some big assumptions because there’s been virtually no discussion of who will pick these teams. All we’ve been told is that the league will be limited to twelve teams. By stating there will be a limit, there is an implicit selection process to determine who will be allowed in and who won’t. It’s being assumed the six HPL franchises will also get a Metro franchise but there is nothing I’ve seen to suggest this is a given.”

    Sorry to be slow on the uptake but when were we “told” that the (Tier 2) league will be limited to twelve teams?

    Just to be clear, one idea (favoured by the HPL?) has a new Tier 2 league that will not only compress the breadth but also the depth of the existing Metro and Gold 1 levels in that Metro and Gold 1 would become one level and the number of teams would be reduced to twelve and still be subject to R23. The idea being that the incumbent Metro team will have lost 60% of its players to HPL (according to the committee) and so will replace those players with Gold 1 (or lower) players. All other players would play in Gold 2 or lower levels. The levels would need to renamed in order to eliminate gaps, e.g. we could have:
    HPL -> Metro (the old Metro plus the old Gold 1) -> Gold 1 (the old Gold 2) -> etc. Is that correct?

    “There is actually a lingering movement in at least two Districts to scrap Metro all together and free up the HPL franchises to focus solely on [their HPL teams] and leave the second tier of play as Gold 1 to be run by non HPL franchises.”

    This also confuses me – so CMF, say, could operate an HPL franchise but by virtue of doing so, would be prohibited from running any Tier 2 teams? So all the current CMF Metro and Gold 1 players that don’t make it onto the CMF HPL team would be forced to either play Gold 2 or go to Port Moody or NCUSC?


    • Gregor says:

      On your last point, it’s not so much that HPL franchises would be prohibited from running Metro/Select teams but that they would not be forced to. If you look at the current standings few of the applicants are well situated to be able to run both an HPL and a second tier team at every age group (especially since Rule 23 will still be in place at the second tier). Compelling them to take on Metro/Select teams at every age group would be problematic for almost all of them.

      The idea of the second tier being limited to 12 teams has been floating around fairly openly for awhile but I can’t remember the original source.

      • Phil Hernandez says:

        Thanks Gregor. I may well have missed the references to a limited number of teams.

        Do you know why there is no Gold 1 in U14 girls? (Instead they refer to a Gold X…?)

      • Canadian Spur says:

        I think the idea of 12 tier 2 teams was originally floated such that each of the 6 lower mainland HPL teams would be affiliated with 2 tier 2 teams for player devlopment and player permits making the Tier 2 teams effectively reserve teams for the HPL squad.

      • Phil Hernandez says:

        Thanks CS. I checked around the BCSA website for any reference to this and couldn’t find anything (not that that’s conclusive…). I had read the TTP thread on the subject which also did not mention this. Anyway, no matter.

  9. Colin Elmes says:

    Gregor, the brown paper bag with the undisclosed content that I gave you the other day, dont let it get near any infra red scanner….

  10. Gregor says:


    The whole U14 Gold X,Y,Z goes to a source of frustration several have with BCCGSL. For the last few years I’ve asked, right about this time of year, how the various girls gold divisions are going to be structured so we can form teams on that basis.

    It always comes down to whether gold will be tiered (ie. Gold 1, Gold 2) or geographic (Gold X, Y etc). It makes a substantial difference when you’re forming teams to know if you’re going to be in a regional gold division (pros: less travel; cons: wider range in ability) or tiered (opposite pros and cons) and often that decision leads us to either make two balanced gold teams if they’re playing regionally or a stronger and weaker gold team if they’re going to be tiered.

    The frustration comes when the decision either comes to late or the divisions are changed once the season starts.

    I know the preference for those charged with forming and affiliating teams at the various ages and levels is to have an early, clear decision on this that does not change once we’ve set our rosters and affiliated.

    • Phil Hernandez says:

      Again thanks for the explanation.

      I note in passing that at U12 select, the BCCGSL originally separated the teams regionally. Then after the seeding period, changed to a hybrid format: the top 6 teams from each region were combined into a single Tier 1 group while the rest of the (ostensibly Tier 2) teams (plus two promoted U11 teams and 1 promoted U12 house team – for schedule balancing purposes I would guess) were split regionally. I think this also addresses the number of teams put forth by clubs into the various levels but that is a separate can of worms.

    • One foot on the pitch says:

      Gregor, I have just come across your site with all the HPL business going on. My understanding with the X,Y,Z and 1,2,3 scenario with BCCGSL is that the geographical teiring (X,Y,Z) always happens at U14 being the first year of Metro. BCCGSL has no idea how strong teams are due to some/many players moving to Metro.

      • Gregor says:

        I coached U14 girls gold two years ago and at Thanksgiving they gathered the results and tiered the 24 teams into Gold 1, 2 and 3 by ability. Pretty sure (but would need to look it up) that U14 was also tiered by ability last year too.

  11. Paul Chapman says:

    Good insight. I think it highlights, again, what a mess Vancouver is with so many clubs and the talent pool so fractured. There are enough kids in each age group to compete, but without any coordinated plan it’s up to the clubs to develop their own talent only for Van FC to benefit in the end, even more so with second tier going to districts.
    That U13 Kerrisdale coach should be fired.

    • Gregor says:

      I hear that Kerr coach led the team out of round robin cup play and into the knockout phase…

    • Phil Hernandez says:

      I recognize that there is a tongue-in-cheek overtone to this post but it does raise a point that I believe is at the core of the problems that have beset soccer development here in BC if not all of Canada. I am referring to this:

      “…it’s up to the [community] clubs to develop their own talent only for Van FC to benefit in the end…”

      With all due respect to Mr. Chapman, and other club officials around town, in his (underpaid and probably underappreciated) efforts to lead the Kerrisdale Club as its president, the benefit is for the player and not a club. We should not care one whit about where a player received his/her quality training but rather that s/he received it. An analogy: my daughter’s Gr. 5 teacher is excellent. I am grateful for everything she has been able to impart. I have never heard her say that in the end it was all for the benefit of such and such a high school. If you have coached/trained/instructed a child in such a manner that s/he has left you behind and reached higher levels, be proud, not bitter.

      Yes, I am overreacting to this one isolated case, but jump up 50,000 feet and see the real extent of the problem.


      • Paul Chapman says:

        Great point Phil, it’s not for the glory of the club, but opportunity for the player that we should all be in this game. That’s the way it should be and it wasn’t my intention to say otherwise.
        In the case of someone running a club though, our aim is to support all our players not just the elite. So if one or two players peel off to a higher program, I’m thrilled for them, but that can often destroy the players left behind who now have no way to fill the void. That’s why this model of so many chopped up clubs doesn’t work. The criticism of HPL is often met that we should be happy for the players that get to play, and I am, but we also have a responsibility to all players, going down to bronze (who believe me are still impacted by this spiral). Great for the players that move up, but someone has to ensure that the experience of all players, including those who have been subsidizing Metro teams for years, is still a good one.

      • Canadian Spur says:

        Excellent point Phil.

        It might help if the District clubs like Van FC (or HPL clubs in the future) acknowledge the role of the community club in developing players that graduate to their program. The community club should take pride in the the accomplishments of its aumni and some recognition from above could help reduce any negative sentiment that the community club might feel.

        These programs should be run as a partnership with the single goal of providing the best possible opportunities and training for each and every player.

      • Canadian Spur says:

        Paul, your point about the mess in Vancouver is very valid. It is difficult for so many small clubs to offer programs appropriate for every age and ability when the players are spread thinly across so may smaller clubs.

        Further the elite player should not be subsidized by the recreational player (CSA are you listening?) This complaint come up in the big clubs as well as most parents assume that the Metro/Select teams are subsidized by the other club members. Whether this is true or not is hard to tell as most clubs don’t disclose thier budgets on a program by program basis but rather in broad categories so any subsidization is not visible to the general membership.

      • thiku says:

        Well stated, Phil!!!!

    • Julie says:

      Nice game your players put in this past weekend, Paul.

  12. Paul Chapman says:

    Thanks CS, all Van FC teams are subsidized by all district players to a tune of $2,000 per team.

  13. One foot on the pitch says:

    Gregor, one could argue that with SBAA, MSC and NCUSC supporting the PMSC/GEUSC bid you would have strong teams out of both of your example groups. For U16 the combination of SBAA and PMSC Metro would likely yield a competative squad and the balance along with NCUSC (Gold 1), PMSC (Gold 2) and SBAA (Gold 3) would provide 2-3 good teir 2 teams even if no additional players came from elsewhere. For U14 the combinations of SBAA and GEUSC would be as stong as any. From what I hear of the PMSC/GEUSC bid, Abby will be hard pressed to match them in current high level teams, membership numbers and easy access to many communities in the lower mainland (including Abby). I do live in MR but I don’t think Abby’s proximity to Chilliwack will be enough to tip the Valley franchise in their favour.

    • Canadian Spur says:

      With the out of district rule in place, unfortunatley these players are from different districts so simply combining these teams wont work. This also assumes that player will go to the HPL club that thier current club supports and I think that this not realistic. Would you travel to Maple Ridge for tier 2 when there will be mulitple options closer to home?

      The PM/GE bid hoped to gain access to fields from the supporting clubs (newton from SBAA and Town Centre from NCSU) I know that the city of Coquitlam is not happy with the NCSU support for PM/GE so I don’t think they will be providing field time for teams consisting with the majority of players not from Coquitlam. Poor decision on NCUSC’s part.

      • One foot on the pitch says:

        CS, the players wouldn’t have to leave their districts. Those players from SBAA that did not make HPL would combine with the current Gold team for 1 teir 2 team, those from PM with the PM gold team for a second and NSUCS (Gold 1 & Gold 2) to support a third. There are no district or travel issues at all for teir 2. An Abby/LGSA bid would have to rely on players coming in from other areas to be competative in either of these age groups. I think players from Surrey will travel the 20 minutes to PM for HPL and I’m not sure where you heard that PMSC/GEUSC were fishing for facilities but with two high quality grass sports parks and 3 turf fields, there is no need for additional bid facilities. I understand, the bid partnerships run much deeper than what has been speculated though so who knows what might transpire.

      • Canadian Spur says:

        The reality is that the best Tri-City players will stay with the CMF HPL franchise and the best Surrey based players will stay with the local HPL francises (whichever are accpeted) so PM/GE get only the next best players from these areas. Y0u have the North Fraser Selects on the boys side but how many GMSL teams come out of the North Fraser area? NCUSC doesn’t have boys and girls gold teams at all levels so while it may work as some age groups it wont at others. Does PM/GE field gold teams at all age groups ( I didn’t look so really don’t know).

      • Canadian Spur says:

        Comment at fields included in Maple Ridge news

        “If the BCSA gives the go-ahead to Pitt Meadows/Golden Ears – a decision is expected to be announced Feb. 15 – the club will be based at Pitt Meadows Athletic Park, which has four artificial turf fields as well as change rooms. Other games may be played at Pitt Meadows secondary, where there are stands to accommodate crowds for big games, as well as Newton Athletic Park in Surrey and Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. Having those type of facilities available and strong coaching makes their bid a strong one, said Pollock.”


      • One foot on the pitch says:

        CS, Yikes this reporter is way off base, PM has 4 nice grass pitches and the PMSS turf adjacent to it. I see where the other facilities idea came from. It sound like there might be a bit of creative license here though…

  14. One foot on the pitch says:

    CS, Hard to say in tri-cities, again less than 20 minutes away so I think it is tough to say if everyone will stay – it seems that many in the forums feel coaching, fees etc… may be a big factor which is unknown at the moment. In Surrey, I think much will hinge on if the second franchise goes to SCC/PA or SFC. Travel from central Surrey would be about the same or less to PM than to SCC so if SCC are successful I could see many coming to this area as some already competative SU teams would be the only other option. I haven’t looked at all the standings, I was just going by the age groups Gregor referenced but PMSC/GEUSC have traditionally fielded teams in all age groups and with over 4000 members, the age groups coming through must be huge. Many of the other franchise applicants would have the same issues with one age group or another not being that strong, so I guess the future of all of the franchises will be in how well they integrate the development system of the club partners so the in-house player production is the primary resource for the squads rather than transfers from other areas (like CMF and SU have benefitted from more than others over the years). My point is more that the PMSC/GUESC bid seems to be stronger than Abby. If you were to re-position Gregor’s rankings based on this I think you find as follows:

    1.PMSC/GEUSC (with the SBAA team)
    2.Surrey United
    3.CMF (if their traditional drawing power holds)
    4.North Shore-Burnaby (if they get most of the stronger Burnaby girls)
    5.Vancouver Richmond (if enough don’t opt out to play other sports; a concern)
    6.South Fraser

    I don’t know that Gregor’s ranking changes but the PMSC/GEUSC team combined with the SBAA team would certainly be stronger than any team Abby would come up with.

    Gregor, what do you think?

    • Canadian Spur says:

      I don’t disagree that the Abby bid may be the weekest of Gregor’s ranking of the 6 in terms of players and current teams and you are probably right that the combined PM/GE teams would would be stronger than Abby. I think being an established club rather than a merger gives them a leg up with the selection committee as does their y-league experience (albeit with limited success).

      I agree that coaching and fees will play a very imprtant role in where players choose to go. Again I think in the Tri-Cities this gives CMF the edge as they have a stable to coaches that have a track record of success. CMF doesn’t pay their Metro/Select coaches (so likley will be able to pay less to retain them at HPL) and Coquitlam provides field time for free so I would expect theirs fees to be on the lower end of the range. Does PM or GEU pay for field time? CMF’s Y-League program was the least expensive and had the most success last season.

      You didn’t see a lot of Surrey players travelling to Coquitlam for Y-league but they did go Coastal (SF territory) or Mountatin (NSB territory). Not sure if this has any relevance as to where they would be willing to travel for HPL or not. Granted the GE Bridge may make the commute from Surrey to PM faster than the commute to Coquitlam so maybe this is not a fair comparison.

  15. MJ#1 says:

    Through all of this, I have not seen what the thinking on the season of play will be– My thought was that the Tier2/Gold would retain the fall/winter schedule and thus be a viable (and cheaper) option for those kids that want to do something else. As much as the HPL is a good thing for the 20-40 or so kids in each cohort that aspire to bigger things, HPL has to work for the rest of the kids it needs plus not destroy the rest of the leagues. The players movements in November and January between HPL and Gold will be tricky in this regard.

    • Canadian Spur says:


      Getting the relationship right between HPL and Tier 2 is critical in my opinion. However I think there are more than 20-40 kidsin each age that this makes sense for. Every kid that played both Y-league and Metro/Select were effectively already in a full year program. With 5 lower mainland Y-league franchises you would be looking at upwards to 80 players per cohort.

  16. Bartlett says:

    Abbotsford’s girls program is in Langley for HPL – something y’all are overlooking. Making it accessible to many more girls than if based in Abby itself. For what it’s worth.

    • One foot on the pitch says:

      Barlett, I was just going on what was currently there (Abby/LGSA) in those age groups – anybody’s guess who ends up where once the dust settles.

  17. One foot on the pitch says:

    CS, I don’t disagree that there isn’t some history on Abby’s side, but from what I have seen clubs like Abby (and others maybe to a lesser extent) have benefitted more from “being first in” more than they have provided the best option. I think lots has happened behind the scenes in the past and in addition to this other clubs seem to have woken up around all this HPL business. Hopefully this translates in to a better offering for HPL. I am not sure about the field fees but here but I know they are around $50/hr in Surrey so if CMF (and Burnaby I hear) get them for nothing, I am sure would have some impact on the fees. To me though, if you use the TSS bid as a guide I think there are additional fees that are not taken into account that might have more impact on the costs. I think this league has been positioned a premium product so expectations that it be run in a more “pro” like manner would involve additional costs over and above what they have listed. Without bid weighting criteria, I think speculations is still really tough. The GE bridge definately changes things in the area, it is 10 minutes from PM to “downtown” Langley now although this would expedite travel to CMF as well, especially at rush hour.

  18. FlyingHorse says:


    Not sure how you arrived at South Fraser > SurDel Pegasus. In your examples, we’re ahead of them in quality in every respect. Semi doesn’t even have a metro team in age groups outside of your example.

    Last, one MAJOR oversight in your current U15 example is that 9 Provincial Players are on the SFC U15 Metro squad.

    Give your head a shake mate.

    • XYZ says:

      Not to mention all those players in the whitecaps prospects for our U13 gold team!
      That SBAA team might be first place but the majority of those players were developed by SFC!
      Fortunately for most clubs they dont have to deal with the the politics and BS that goes on this side of the fraser.

  19. FlyingHorse says:

    Relationships aside … Here’s a couple of further reasons why SurDel Pegasus > South Fraser, Gregor … if you’d like to use facts that is!

    Provincial Players:

    National Players:


  20. JoeR says:

    Flyinghorse-While I agree with you that the SFC bid is probably a stronger one than the SF bid. You are wrong on a couple of points, first Semi has right now a U16metro team that went to Nationals when they were at the U14 level. As well on the SFC U15 team right now there are 7 Provincial players 2 of which are actually on the U14 Provincial team.

    One Foot- While I agree the abby side on the U15 is weak, the fact that the girls side will be held in Langley may open them up to more Surrey players going that way. As for a combined SBAA/PM at that age level being a competitive team I would probably disagree. SBAA has 2 phenominal players one of which lives out of area (played in Burnaby) and a couple of other players who would rank mid way on any other team. PM team has 2 or 3 players of quality so looking at the teams if combined I would see them finish 6th out of 8 teams with the Island and Abby Teams not far behind them. Really not much of a difference between them and Abby in the long run at this age level.

  21. Colin Elmes says:

    one foot on the pitch. Sportstown FC cost per player is just that- $1800

  22. SP says:

    Interesting stuff Gregor!

    The only thing that I can say about these standings, at least at the U-13 level, is that they support the reason HPL is needed more than ever!

    You see, there are different mandates amongst these teams. The mandate should be DEVELOPMENT/TECHNIQUE over RESULTS/TACTICS. One of those top three Surrey teams actually try and play the game, a possession game, with thought, excellent technique, and an EMPHASIS to build for the future. BECAUSE the future IS NOT u-13!!! I will never stray from this. I know what “development” means. I don’t recruit. I never have. If a player/family is savvy enough to grasp what I am doing, what my club is doing, come along. If they don’t, I will coach those who do. Recipe for success with that philosophy, I am sure most logically minded people would agree.

    Results/Standings do not tell the whole picture, but “luckily” we are near the top anyway. And nothing has been compromised. Hope I, my club, will continue to function in this capacity.

    • Larry says:

      SP, you’re bang on. Development vs results are contra to each other, particularly in the U13 comparison. Week in and week out I have seen many games where there is no concept of constructive technical play or ball mastery for that matter. More often then not I’ve observed “results” success, driven by blasting the ball up field and the hope that a somewhat less confident U13 defender can’t handle the pressure resulting in a goal. As these defenders get older and more confident this tactic will not work and the advantage will switch to the defenders.

      It’s to bad that games are not actually broken down per the structural content of the play. i.e. passing, ball control, give & go’s, overlaps, attempts at goal, etc. One might get a much deeper perspective of who’s doing what versus the W L T columns, as the standings do not tell the larger story

      • Gregor says:

        Sadly it’s not restricted to U13. Ive seen it regularly at Y league and U16 metro. Moreso on the girls side.

        Hoofing it up the field still yields a disproportionate reward at these levels and that’s a pretty bad indictment of the local game.

    • Joe says:

      SP can you explain to me how HPL will improve the level of soccer ?

  23. Joe says:

    There isn’t one Surrey club that’s dominates year after year. At U14 Girls SY doesn’t have a Metro team and at U15 SU doesn.t. Success is split very evenly between the SBAA , Semi , SU & SY. There is clearly a strong argument for Surrey to have three HPL teams ., but I don’t see that happening

    At U13 the Non HPL teams will out number the HPL teams 6 to 4 .

  24. rk says:

    So back to the question of Tier2, how will teams be selected to be in Tier2? I hear Lower Island is not staying but UVI metro wants to stay in!? That would mean travel to Nanaimo and LM Tier2 teams have to assume those costs etc. So in order to set next seasons player fees / rates when can clubs expect some idea of wht tier2 will be and who will be in it?

  25. Scott says:

    I’m very interested as to what will happen with Metro. It seems that now with HPL Metro will cease to be. I think that would be good. We will have better quality at the Gold level. Currently it seems the upheaval at U14 negatively affects clubs at the gold and silver levels. These were all theoretical concepts before but now we will find out over the next few years. Good in the long run but short term confusion and pain.

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