Poll results: What Canada needs in 2013

UPDATE: Added my own answers to the poll with a brief explanation (at the bottom).

Here’s the results to the recent poll I stuck on the site a few days ago. Thanks to the 45 respondents who took part.

For me the surprises are that so many people feel we should invest in a top men’s coach right now and the level of support for low-fee CSA Academies. I started righting a piece on this idea that I haven’t finished yet and thought I’d float it in the survey. Interesting to see the degree of enthusiasm for that ahead of free programs like Prospects.

Strong support for allowing players to play multiple sports to U14 and even more support for the idea of mandatory LTPD coaching courses for all parent volunteer coaches.

Also interesting that the majority felt developing a national curriculum should be Tony Fonseca’s top priority yet it only narrowly topped increasing coach education courses and options in Question #1 below.

Results after the jump…

Question: #1: What’s more important?

The development of a national curriculum for youth soccer players and coaches 25 56%
Increased coach education courses and options for youth coaches 20 44%

Question #2: What’s more important for the men’s national team?

Quickly finding and hiring the best coach possible 31 69%
Saving money on salary and waiting until qualifying for the 2018 World Cup starts and then hiring the best candidate 14 31%

Question #3: What’s more important for the women’s national team?

Converting the team to a more modern, possession based style of play as per coach John Herdman’s stated plan 22 49%
Getting as many Canadian players into the NWSL and other professional leagues as possible and leaving the development to clubs that can offer a full time training environment 23 51%

Question #4: What’s more important for youth development?

Identify the best players and put them into a handful of no-fee professional club academies (eg. Whitecaps Prospects) 4 9%
Develop 5x as many low-fee CSA academies across the country that are based on a national curriculum and is also set up to identify and work with the best players 41 91%

Question #5: There’s far, far more professional coaches working in youth soccer now than there was 10 years ago. Should there be an independent certification process or body for professional coaches as there is in other industries?

Yes, it would help parents when deciding what environment to put their kids into 30 67%
No, there’s already coaching certification courses that let you know how much training a coach has had and they all need to fill out criminal record checks as well 15 33%

Question #6: Some people believe kids should be encouraged to play multiple sports as it helps with soccer development. Professional club academies in Europe preclude that and considerable research also indicates that early specialization is both necessary and desirable in young players who want to excel in the game. Which do you prefer?

Clubs should ask players to commit to soccer only by age U10 1 2%
Clubs should ask players to commit to soccer only by age U12 15 33%
Clubs should ask players to commit to soccer only by age U14 20 44%
Clubs should allow players to play multiple sports as long as possible 9 20%

Question #7: Coach Education should be mandatory for all coaches working with U6 to U10 players. Certain Long Term Player Development (LTPD) courses should be mandated to coach at these ages.

False. At these ages if we make taking courses mandatory we will lose volunteer parent coaches and limit the number of players who can play as a result 3 7%
True. All coaches should have to take at least Active Start 8 18%
True. All coaches should have to take at least Active Start and FUNdamentals 12 27%
True. All coaches should have to take at least Active Start, FUNdamentals and Learn to Train 22 49%

Question #8: Tony Fonseca is the new Technical Director for the CSA. His primary goal, he says, is to work with the three MLS clubs in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal to develop a better relationship that will hopefully see more young Canadian players added to their rosters.

This is very important and should be Tony’s main focus 5 11%
The development of a national curriculum for U6 to U18 is the most important job 23 51%
Identifying the best young players (U12 and up) and getting them into regular training together, regionally, is critical to the future success of our national teams and should be the top priority 17 38%

Question #9: The women’s national team winning Olympic bronze medals was the biggest soccer story in Canada last year. The story that could have the biggest positive impact on soccer in this country in 2013 is:

A Canadian team winning the MLS Championship 9 20%
Qualifying for the Men’s U20 World Cup in Turkey and advancing to the knockout round 17 38%
Christine Sinclair winning the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award 4 9%
A young Canadian player signing and getting playing time with a top European team 6 13%
The CSA hiring a well known, highly regarded coach for the men’s national team 9 20%

Write in comments – I think the most important thing to make our national teams more competitive is:

1. Kids playing in the schoolyards and parks with multiple ages so they learn from older kids. EVERY decent soccer country has that. We DON’T. At my kids school, the kids are segregated in the schoolyard by age. Even in Vancouver, I never see kids meeting at the park and playing, of their own volition. And in all this, they need to play on SMALL fields.
2. I wish the u20 story would be bigger but it won’t be. A ‘B’ national team which gets together regularly playing MLS, university, NASL, USL PRO depending on which players attend the camp – not restricted to NA based players but ideally is.

For the record, here’s what I went with:

1. Development of national curriculum. While coach education is massively important, I see a curriclum as a crucial foundation and something that ties LTPD together. Curriculum needs to be accompanied by at least 12 training plans for each player development phase identified in the CSA’s LTPD plan.

2. Saving money now, waiting to see if the interim manager can handle it or not and then, if not, being in a position strategically and financially to bring someone in who is capable of making a difference in our ability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

3. I actually don’t like how I’ve worded this one and that may account for the almost 50-50 split. I went with converting to a different style of play because it has to be done at some point if they’re really going to compete for championships. They’re both important though. The reality is that for Herdman to convert the playing style he needs a lot of access to the players. That’s more feasible if the money isn’t being spent on NWSL contracts and the players aren’t expected to be with those NWSL teams for long periods of time.

4. Went with CSA low-cost academies across the country. I’m very curious to see if that’s at all feasible. As I mentioned above, I started a post on this very topic a few weeks ago and I think it could be done. I’ll get around to finishing it sometime.

5. We need to clean up the wild west environment that’s crept into local ‘professional’ coaching and I think some independent monitoring or licensing agency would be a good idea.

6. I went with U12. Again, this was for elite players who want to excel in the game. We’ve tried working with sports with hockey at younger ages but they’re far more hardcore than us regarding commitment and we just end up seeing U12 kids choose hockey over soccer when they have a conflict. Every time.

7. Coach education. Torn on this one. I work for a club with about 3800 kids, or around 300 teams. Is it realistic for us to only let parents who have taken three coaching courses run those teams? No, it’s not. If we dig in our heels on that, we end up turning away a ton of kids because we don’t have coaches for them. This can only work with a graduated approach in my opinion. Make coaches take Active Start by U7 (assuming they are starting to coach at U6). Then FUNdamentals by U8 and Learning to Train by U10. They you have a coach heading into divisional soccer who has taken three courses and had other support from the club over five years. That’s the compromise solution.

8. The priority has to be the national curriculum. No point in having nation wide academies until you have a standardized approach for them to work off of. I’m wary of putting too much time and effort into convincing private businesses that to this point are in a league that pretty much discourages them from developing Canadian talent. They are in the results business and working with them to become partners in developing players for the national team is not going to yield much in the way of long term positive results. Just look at Europe and you see the antagonistic relationship that a lot of top clubs have with their governing body regarding national team commitments. Yes, put some olive branches out and exert some behind the scenes pressure but, in the end, it’s not the job of the Whitecaps, TFC or the Impact to make the national team better and trying to get them to buy into that will be difficult.

9. Canadian team winning MLS. While U20 success would be good, it’s a short tournament that not nearly as many Canadians are invested in  compared to MLS.

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