Soccer development in Canada gets a big, fat zero

John
John Browne
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Like Chance The Gardner in the brilliant movie Being There, Canadians like to watch when it comes to soccer. Unfortunately, like Chance, we havent got a clue, especially when it comes to playing the game at the world level.

That was painfully clear during Canadas brief participation in the FIFA under-20 World Cup.

It seemed impossible for the host team to come away without a win, tie or a goal. Almost. Canada proved history and the oddsmakers wrong by doing just that. You could count the shots on goal on one hand, for heavens sake.

Canadians, more than any time in our history, love to watch soccer. Our professional teams in Montreal, and particularly in Toronto, are attracting sellout crowds, and our kids are playing the game in record numbers.

But we are not producing many world-class players and are light years away from producing a world-class team. Its rather obvious that impressive registration numbers do not automatically equate to success at the international levels of the mens game.

There are exceptions such as world-class Owen Hargreaves who, though born and raised in Canada, prefers to play for England. And there are a handful of other professionals around the world who have some skills. But while the countrys senior mens team has shown some promise, particularly in the recent Gold Cup, the Under-20 team, the countrys feeder system, with a few exceptions, seems pretty much devoid of talent. When we bring our young men together they play flat-footed, unimaginative soccer and its been that way for the past 25 years.

Canadas soccer future remains murky. There is some talent on the senior side with Dwayne De Rosario and I like the Ian Hume kid. But if this group cant qualify for the next World Cup, we should pack it in.

Poorly prepared by Dale Mitchell, who will be punished for his failure by taking over the coaching duties with Canadas senior mens team, the Canadian kids didnt play with any urgency. They dug themselves a huge hole to start the tournament and it was all downhill after that. Overall, the team played timid, non-assertive soccer. Canada played without any confidence and, quite frankly, deserved its ultimate fate. It was a disgrace and the coach, players and Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) should feel ashamed of themselves.

The CSA said Tuesday it plans a comprehensive review of Canadas early exit.

A comprehensive review? Ill save you time and money: We suck.

The CSA nobs dont have any idea how to put together a successful mens team program thats competitive on the world scene.

We need to go all out to attract world-class coaches for of our age-group teams as well as our senior side. At least get coaches from countries where they play a good brand of soccer. Massive corporate sponsorship, like the financial support the Americans have used to raise their standard of play, is needed to give our programs the boost they deserve. We cant depend on feeble government handouts any longer.

If all of this falls into place, one day we just might be able to crush Jordan.



jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canadian Soccer Association, FIFA

Geographic location: Canada, Montreal, Toronto England Jordan

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