U17/U18 Girls: BCPL v Metro Women’s Premier

Had a long day full of ups and downs yesterday. We took our VanU U10 Boys Academy team up to SFU to play in the Whitecaps Scouting Series in the morning and they were introduced to a level of play that should get them over their case of “big fish in a small pond” virus. Not pretty.

Then it was out to UBC for my U17 Gold girls team game. They played their best game of the season to win an important game against a solid North Shore Girls team. A joy to watch.

I then raced back to Burnaby Lake West to catch the U17/U18 BCPL game between Fusion and Mountain. I figured that for all the space on this site I’ve dedicated to BCPL I should actually get out and watch a game before the mini season ends. This was the first chance I had to see a game and chose this one specifically. I’ve talked with many coaches on the boys and girls side at different age groups but it’s not the same as seeing a game.

Rewind a week first though. Last week I had a chance to watch the TSS Elite team play against the North Shore Girls Renegades. Brendan Quarry, coach of TSS Elite and regular commenter here on the site had invited two players from my U17 gold team to play for them as they were undermanned due to injuries. We agreed that given they had played a game for me earlier in the day they would play just a half each for TSS.

Naturally, I was curious to see the difference knowing that Colin had successfully pitched the idea of putting a team of ’94 born girls into the MWSL Premier Division (followed by a spring/summer of PCSL). Scheduling wise it makes more sense for a group of players who are in Grade 12 and have plans for September that are perhaps a bit up in the air and may take them out of driving distance for the last three months of the BCPL season. The fact that BCPL has still not addressed this issue and coaches who inquire about it are being told not to be negative is an indication that no solution is imminent.

But it’s one thing to provide logistical relief for players stressed about being able to commit to a season that doesn’t end until November. It’s another to meet their needs for a challenging playing and training environment while still keeping them in the mix for the holy grail of top flight post-secondary soccer.

On the first front, how does the standard compare? Silly question for me to try to answer comprehensively when admittedly I’ve seen just one game in each of the two leagues in question. Still, I’ll wade in…

The BCPL game was actually a higher standard than I was expecting based on some very poor Metro games I’ve seen in the same age group. It was cohesive in that there seemed to be an intended style of play with players looking to fill specific responsibilities. The pace was, not surprisingly, hectic but for the most part players were not playing too fast for their abilities; more so in the first half than the second. Ball movement was good but also relatively simple and very few players looked likely to do the unpredictable. Only one player, a former Y League player of mine, seemed to have any other strategy for beating a defender 1v1 beyond just pushing it past the defender and winning a footrace. No player was willing and/or able to dictate attacking play. It was all a bit rote but in a fairly good way. It was an enjoyable game and I was glad to see a decent level of ability from teams trying to do more than kick lumps out each other and the ball.

The downside was that there are clearly players there who are a full notch below the top half of the team. The gulf within teams, in terms of ability, stood out to me as an issue but again this is based on watching one game*.

Comparing this to the experience the TSS Elite players are getting, I’d say from my knowledge of the women’s premier division, that the gulf in ability within the team is not so much the issue as the gulf in ability between teams. TSS was definitely on their back foot the entire first half against North Shore Renegades and really only came into the game in the second half when the score was already 3-0. They looked good in the second half but how much this was down to subs made by North Shore is hard to tell. The pace was not just quicker but stayed that way almost the entire game. The knock of course on MWSL Premier is that there are not enough teams that can compete with the top two or three and, as such, it’s not an effective ‘top’ division.

How would TSS do in the BCPL U17/U18 division? Again, hard to tell as they do have a couple of overage players and the women’s division is much more physical than BCPL. Physical in a mean, angry, hair pulling, ‘mocking the fact that their parents come watch them play’ kind of way. But when your league includes the defending national women’s champions and teams that can compete with them (to a degree) it’s not getting to get much better in terms of a development environment. They are definitely being challenged.

In a nutshell though, the TSS team would do quite well in BCPL. Conversely, and more to the point, I think many of the BCPL teams, or at least many of their players, would not only get by in the MWSL Premier division but that if they could strike some sort of relationship with them, they may have a solution for their U18 players and allow a purely U17 division to exist next year. They’d still need to manage the gap between the younger BCPL teams ending in November and the older teams they graduate into needing to start in September but perhaps a later start and finish is negotiable with MWSL.

The only other solution, and it’s a good one, I’ve heard for the dilemma facing graduating U18 BCPL players is Alfredo Valente’s idea to have BCPL’s last year be a U21 division so you open the pool of players up to allow for some leaving for far off post secondary schooling and still be able to keep teams viable through November.

One notion that does need to be dispelled though is that if you’re not playing BCPL you will not get seen by college and university coaches. Not only did I see the same college coach that I know at both games I attended but another well known university coach told me coaches at that level don’t care where you’re playing, they just want to know if you can actually play. And if you can, they will find out about you.


*Note:  I did really try to be anti-social and just watch the game without chatting (hood pulled up, stood on my own away from crowd) but I did end up missing bits of play in the second half due to some conversations.
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36 Responses to U17/U18 Girls: BCPL v Metro Women’s Premier

  1. Colin Elmes says:

    I beat K……

  2. K says:

    I am putting my comments in my new blog called The Far Post….

  3. Brendan Quarry says:

    Just a small clarification: our TSS Elite program begins with the PCSL season (April – July) followed by MWSL Premier (September – March). Not the other way around. We start selecting players in December for the 2012 program.

  4. Everton#1 says:

    Gregor. Interesting comment on the recruiting piece and I would think if any recruiter is doing their job properly they are going to look at all players that can fit their program and not just because you are playing a certain level.
    I heard from a BCPL coach however that if you are not playing in BCPL you will not be looked at for any provincial team opportunities. Not sure if that is smoke blowing or once again BCSA trying to force the players to play in a league that some clearly want no part of. In my Metro team I know of at least two or three players that would be of interest at the provincial level so my hope is that because they choose to stay and work hard in the Metro system and supplement with TSS training that they dont fall prey to this type of short sighted thinking.

    • Gregor says:

      The Provincial Team Program is going to be a curious arrangement this next year. If the Whitecaps have done their job, the top players in PTP age groups have already been selected and are training with the Prospects, the level above BCPL. My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that the Caps have agreed to have the Prospects program take a break at the time the Provincial team players are needed and to make them available. I don’t know how the selection process will work but if the system is working efficiently you would think that the Prospects players will just take off their Caps jerseys, shift over and put BC jerseys on. Not sure how much room there will be for BCPL players never mind players in leagues below BCPL.

      • K says:

        TBH, I’d be a bit surprised if the Caps would release players who they have financially invested in to go play for another program that isn’t a national program (though I guess PTP is a step toward CMNT), but not only that but the parents would say “sure, drop us from the Caps where we are playing for free so we can then pay the BCSA for the pleasure of playing for them…..with the exact same teammates….”. Just seems odd if that’s the case….if BC PTP was free I’d think differently.

        But if that is the case it is doubtful any metro players would get selected, and only the odd BCPL player…….who would then pretty much have to take a spot from one of the Whitecaps players wouldn’t they in the Caps program?

    • Brendan Quarry says:

      Thought it would be worthwhile publishing the league objectives from the original HPL proposal document:

      First, [HPL] provides an elevated level of competition for elite players in BC. It is contemplated that this will increase the opportunities for more players to reach their full potential. In addition, it will allow more players to train and compete in an environment that improves their chance of being recognized, identified and recruited by scouts for the National Training Centre. Ultimately, it will best facilitate the province’s best players, through the Canadian Soccer Association’s National Teams selection process to play for Canada.

      Second, building on the first objective, it simplifies scouting for Canadian and US colleges and universities, Major League Soccer clubs in Canada and the USA and other soccer organizations.

      Third, the HPL becomes a dynamic new property for BC Soccer, its membership and its strategic partners, including the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The HPL carries a series of significant benefits in terms of marketing, media and promotion for the game of soccer. It will help introduce talented and up-and-coming players to media at the community, metropolitan and provincial levels. It will create new content opportunities for and other BC Soccer controlled communications vehicles, including those of the provincial governing body’s strategic partners and stakeholders.

  5. K says:

    I am sure if the kid is good enough he’ll get nabbed by the PTP…..

  6. K says:

    I assume the 8 (certainly the 6 lower mainland ones) franchises will have a u12 to u13 transition plan….

  7. Joe says:

    I thought that the provincal program was free for the player ?. and it was being funded by HPL registration ? I guess that that means HPL players are funding Whitecaps prospect players ?

  8. Joe says:

    Yes I know , . but let assume Brendan is correct and Whitecap players make up the majority of the provincal team ,( which only makes sense ),If HPL registration is funding the provincal program ,then HPL parents at U17,U18 are funding Whitecap players to play on the provincal team….. am I wrong ?

    • K says:

      I have read nowhere re: BC PTP costs for the 2012 season. If you have, it’d be great if you could post it. In reading through all HPL docs I’ve never seen mention of costs going toward the BC PTP…

      And in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense at all that Whitecaps players make-up the BC PTP. Which I posted above. Did TFC players make-up the Ontario team last year?

  9. JoeR says:

    To my namesake Joe— Not sure where you saw that prov teams were being funded by HPL registration. My understanding is the registration fees payed to each club stays within the club except for a small fee to the BCPL league. Having looked at the Sportstown (that was posted here earlier this year)bid if I remember correctly the number was $10,000 to the league if you take that for each club 8 in total that would be $80,000. That would be a drop in the bucket to cover the cost of the PTP. My understanding is PTP is funded by user pay still.

    • Gregor says:

      Worth noting that there’s very little info posted on the BCSA site about the Provincial Team Programs at the moment:

      This would suggest they’re still making program decisions for the 2012 teams.

    • Joe says:

      When I asked my daughters HPL coach last spring to justify the increase in registration cost., The reasoning I was given was the HPL program was integrated with the NTC and the BC PTP. , so I assumed the HPL was cover the cost of the 4 week BC PTP .

      Our registration fees increase by 10x and we were left with the same coach. If Joe with an R is correct and HPL is not contributing to the BC PTP
      Then the clubs are pocking a large win fall .

      • K says:

        Attend the AGM and ask to see the financials – for your club and/or the BCPL itself. I believe they are distributed at AGM’s automatically anyway…. I have no clue when the AGM’s would be. But that would be where you get your answers if they aren’t posted on the bcsa site or the BCPL site….ask your clubs’ technical director or gm/president. Probably an easier way to get an answer….

      • X says:

        I haven’t heard anything stating that any monies, from BCSPL or otherwise ( besides mumsy & dad ) are paying / covering the cost of the Provincial Program. I don’t believe this is true? ( although I hope it is!!)

        In response to Gregors comment re the U12’s looking ahead to next season in BCSPL and the current BCSPL U13’s having possibly a stressful time in this upcoming break between the mini and full seasons, off season; I think things will already be much clearer for the next batch of U13 than what the first group experienced.
        Things might not be perfect at all clubs but I don’t think they’ve got alot of kinks ironed out.
        For the current U13’s yes, there are already any parents / kids looking over their shoulder…lot’s of wondering, lot’s of talk of these “new” kids sniffing around.

        Exactly what I hoped would happen after this mini season, metro players from various clubs now coming out of the woodwork.

        It’s exciting.

  10. X says:

    sorry….typo….I meant that I “DO” think they’ve got alot of the kinks ironed out.

    • scott says:

      I’m very interested to see if any players get cut after the mini season. And what happens if HPL teams want to pick up players from metro teams at this time. It could be “interesting”.

  11. Phisper says:

    great conversation…..I would love to know where the HPL money goes, how it varies over different clubs, and see where the player centered model clashes with the economic machine.


    Should the elite teams be free? Should every BCSA soccer registration be $5 or $10 more so there are no financial barriers to struggling families? If a kid works their butt off and makes the 16th or 18th spot on a PT roster, should they be super proud to have the opportunity to train with similar elite players OR should the family question paying $2500-$4000 to play limited minutes in a fringe role?

    My final point. Some of the money pays the coaches. Some great coaches are seriously underpaid…..some average coaches are overpaid. Families are looking for value. What am I getting for my money? Colin made a great point that has stuck with me re “welcome to the business world” HPL. Now parents can vote with their feet. But clubs respond with subtle political threats (or not so subtle).

    Its all become a little sour.

    • X says:

      As a parent of a player on an “elite team” YES! hear hear! Free! ; )

      While I certainly agree that developing the absolute very best group of players would be most effectively accomplished if it was 100% subsidized, as there would be NO top level players excluded / overlooked due to economics, I’d offer the two following points as devils advocate ( as I agree all should be subsidized );

      1) how realistic is this? We’re talking about a pretty costly proposition as we’re not just talking about a single 15 – 20 member team but rather 10 – 12 teams per club ( X 8 clubs ) and all of the expenses that goes along with them.
      2) in regards to your comment;
      “should they be super proud to have the opportunity to train with similar elite players OR should the family question paying $2500-$4000 to play limited minutes in a fringe role?”

      While this is certainly a concern for ‘that player / family’ who are on that fringe ( bench ) more than they would like, I don’t think this is an issue for the majority of players on the majority of teams so I don’t think it’s a fair overall comment.
      BUT having said that, if I’m that parent, yes, it’s a decision for sure….pay to sit and watch more than you’d like or step down a level and play more.
      Certainly a valid question. I just don’t think it’s one that’s broad enough to affect the validity of the league overall.

      I don’t think it’s sour.

      • Phisper says:

        I think the unsavory element relates to the clubs and how some handle the new power of HPL. If you choose to drop to Metro, for whatever reason, will the clubs really support the move? If you choose to tryout at another club, there is a big X beside your name.

        Fair comments on the money. But define elite. 8 clubs, 12 teams, 16 players is about 1500 players. From a numbers perspective, that is not elite. Having watched 1/2 dozen games covering 3 age levels, from a skill perspective I would also argue HPL is far from elite.

        I am not certain the mandate has been followed or it has not worked. Has the jump in league performance been large enough? not yet. Lets see. Is it a simplified venue for scouting? Not really. There are elite players that choose to not play in HPL.

        I think the crux will be when Metro teams can challenge for provincials and go to nationals.

  12. X says:

    Re your comment; “Has the jump in league performance been large enough? not yet. Lets see. Is it a simplified venue for scouting? Not really. There are elite players that choose to not play in HPL.”
    This is very true but it is changing. What I mean is, a great deal of the reason the above was / is true is because of the high quality element that chose to wait and see and remain with Metro. IE; some of the very good players were missing from the recipe.
    Many of these are now having a change of heart and are approaching BCSPL teams.

    This is no longer just a hope, I am now seeing this at the field on practice and game days.

    I go back to my earlier though; “Exactly what I hoped would happen after this mini season, metro players from various clubs now coming out of the woodwork.

    It’s exciting.”

    • Gregor says:

      Interesting to note that I’m starting to see things like “moving from metro to hpl” “how players to to bcpl from metro” pop up as search terms that bring people to this site.

  13. X says:

    That is interesting. I guess it’s not necessarily just a snap to switch eh….new BCSPL season beginning in Feb ( training in Jan )….a tricky time to make a move from the Metro perspective. IE; parents have to look at and figure out ‘how’ to make the switch hence some of the searches you’re seeing?

    • K says:

      Making a switch shouldn’t be too difficult….some paperwork I figure. Most (all?) metro teams have at least a loose affiliation with a BCPL team, and some of course have a direct one. The ones with a direct affiliation (ie, Surrey Utd metro) won’t have much issue swapping. Other than the obvious ones….

  14. Post Apocolypse says:

    The biggest switches will be at the older age groups. Why would a U18 play BCSPL when they can play metro for 1/10 of the price? This will change over time if the BCSPL lasts.
    As far as the season and changes, when does the BCSPL mini season end? They play their last games this weekend but won’t “release” their players until mid December. In the past all teams that finished the league were allowed to move around as they pleased without getting a release. Why is this different?

  15. Everton#1 says:

    Over the last month or so it is funny as I am hearing the opposite of kids thinking of moving from HPL to Metro. Players have “kicked the tires” on the mini season and now there are the other sport conflicts we all knew were coming this Spring they are forced to make the choice to play two sports at a high level or one sport. Might be an easier choice for an older player but the ones coming from U-12 as well as the U-13 & U-14’s are weighing the options.
    Will be interesting to see if players leaving and going in end up being a wash.

    • Post apocolypse says:

      Might be right, but tell me why there is a combined u17/18 division? If there are more moving up, we should see separate U 17/18 divisions.

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