Soccer: What's wrong and how do we fix it?

John
John Browne
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Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association technical director Dragan Mirkovic (left) and NLSA vice-president Gord Dunphy pose in front of the King George V soccer facility in St. John’s. In the first part of a two-part series, Mirkovic and Dunphy offer their views on the state of soccer in Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Has Newfoundland and Labra­dor soccer fallen behind the rest of the country?

That’s one of the questions put to two local knowledgeable soccer personalities.

Dragan Mirkovic is the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s (NLSA) technical director, while Gord Dunphy is the NLSA’s senior men’s vice-president.

The two experts offered decidedly diverse and sometimes provocative views on where the game is now and where it’s headed.

From minor to university to senior level of play, this province has had little to cheer about at the regional and national level in recent years.

The province will soon boast four FieldTurf surfaces along with an indoor soccer facility in St. John’s, so the days of using a short season as an excuse are over.

Mirkovic and Dunphy didn’t hesitate to elaborate on their areas of concern.

The first part of a two-part series:

The game weighed in the balance

Gord Dunphy didn’t pull any punches when asked if Newfoundland and Labrador is playing catch-up with the other provinces in terms of our overall soccer calibre.

“I feel, collectively as a province, we are behind most other provinces at most levels of the soccer game,” he says.

Dunphy, who has spent over 40 years in the game in a variety of capacities, said it kills him to say, “I feel we are nowhere near the national level we were in soccer during  the 1990s, 80s and 90s. 

“I think our expectations have diminished over the years and we have become too complacent,” said the former St. Lawrence Laurentians coach, now the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s senior vice-president.

“Our Newfoundland teams no longer play with the same amount of heart or determination the older Holy Cross and Laurentian teams displayed. Right now, I would rank us on the national scene anywhere from seventh to eighth seed.”

Dunphy said he also sees the difference in the coaches as well as the players.

No longer, he said, are soccer players schooled under the demanding, but knowledgeable coaches such as Allan Ross, Brian Murphy or Jack Simms. Gone too, he said, are the days of Newfoundland’s soccer superstars in the mould of Wils Molloy, Al Slaney, Joe Turpin and the Breen, Reddy and Mullett brothers.

“These were players that were very much disliked — if not hated — by their opponents, but they were respected,” Dunphy said.

“Gone is the dedication of players to their team and to their teammates as they were in the past.

“Today, it appears to me many players are more interested in showcasing the name on the back of their jersey rather than playing for the crest on the front.”

And Dunphy wonders where Newfoundland’s Atlantic dominance at the university and senior level has gone.

For most part, he said, this province prevailed  at the Atlantic level during 70s, 80s, and 90s, “and we were always a serious contender at the Eastern Canadian and national levels during those decades.

“Today, I would have to say that the province of Nova Scotia is the king of Atlantic Canadian soccer.”

Dunphy said defending champion Holy Cross/Kirby women’s team is “basically” a provincial all-star team and doesn’t get any competition in the local St. John’s league, so it isn’t prepared for the tougher games at nationals.

He also feels women’s soccer teams need to be fitter for national competition.

Asked to assess Memorial University’s soccer program, Dunphy said it has become smug.

On the university level, MUN’s men’s and women’s teams, despite some genuine individual talent, have basically underachieved over the past several years — particularly the women’s team — and Dunphy says he knows why.

“I don’t think the expectations are high enough for both teams,” he said. “I think losing has almost become acceptable for the university teams

“We don’t demand enough from our university soccer program.”

Dunphy also said he doesn’t see the same intensity the players show with their club teams carried over to their university teams.

For his part, Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association technical director Dragan Mirkovic says, “To evaluate soccer, or any sport for that matter, and focus solely on its results would be very deceptive.

“When you talk about youth sport and you use results as a measuring stick, it gets even trickier,” said Mirkovic who helped guide his girls’ under-18 team to a fifth place finish at last year’s nationals in St. john’s.

“I always thought my first priority should be to work hard to decrease the importance of junior success and instead concentrate on developing conditions that will ensure a long-term success,” said Mirkovic.

“But, to clarify, I don’t think there is anything wrong with junior success … it’s how we get there.

“When you see that at age 15 all small, less physical, but more technical kids are gone and that 60 per cent of your athletes are choosing a lower level of performance, you realize that something is wrong.”

Why do these kids give up an opportunity to be challenged technically, tactically, mentally and physically?

Mirkovic says it’s because by the age of 16, due to high expectations of adults, the fun, motivation and love of the sport are gone.

Basically, he said, soccer culture has to change if we are going to see results.

“It does not take a scientific mind to conclude that today in our province, children are not even distantly suited for the increased demands as their parents were,” said Mirkovic.

“Overall, decline in the physical fitness of children is dramatic while the opportunities to develop the mental qualities (responsibility, dealing with failure, concentration, inner drive) needed to compete at the high level have decreased as well.”

The gap between what they need and what they have has grown, according to Mirkovic.

“Many will be consternated when they hear this, but those are the ones who don’t understand a true nature of competitive sport culture and the special fabric that is needed to make it to the top,” said Mirkovic.

“It is only in rugby these days that you see unity, pride, toughness, a streak of wildness and that’s how they get success,” he said.

Mirkovic explained that when Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) technical director David Benning was here recently, he mentioned he went to Quebec to look for players.

There are thousands of players in that province which has 70 indoor and outdoor turf fields, fully-paid soccer people in a numbers of regions.

“He said you’d think you could scoop quality players in an instant. But after three days of watching and evaluating, he could only come up with five names,” Mirkovic noted.

“He (Benning) said it was difficult to develop good players these days and while I agree, I also think that we need to be patient,” said Mirkovic.

“Newfoundland and Labrador has an excellent technical infrastructure for player and coaching development, but it took almost a decade to build it,” Mirkovic said.

He said, for example, out of 26 national B license women’s coaches in Canada, six are from this province.

“The mentorship program for women’s coaches has been ongoing for a few years and will continue to produce female coaches for advanced programs,” said Mirkovic.

Friday:  Part 2: The future

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, Laurentian, Canadian Soccer Association

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec Canada

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  • PNearing
    July 11, 2012 - 13:31

    Like all the Atlantic Provinces, 90% of soccer played here is recreational. That does not provide for us to compete at the high performance competitions in any meaningful way. How many games are the kids or even seniors involved in that are really meaningful and competitve? Until we get involved with high level competition in our own areas we can't be much better than "ambitious recreational soccer players". How many times will a U16 provincial player step on the field in a meaningful game over the course of a competitve season? and when they do they will lack competitve experience to succeed in that game. On the other hand how many competitive games will a U16 hockey player get in a season. There in lies a big part of the difference.

  • Michael Kane
    March 20, 2012 - 01:06

    I completely agree with Dragon. Why put a player with a lot of potential in high school sports just to get injured? If you want to play high school sports/sports other then soccer go ahead! You can still play soccer your just giving up a huge opprotunity see more sport news http://sportdailynews.com

  • SOCCER MOM
    May 31, 2011 - 12:32

    I have to wonder how the depth of soccer might increase if more attention was paid to those of us on the "other" side of the overpass. I really wish someone with NLSA would move off the Avalon and see for themselves just how truly frustrating it is. How discouraging to see a NLSA soccer camps in the St. John's area all the time. Maybe athletes areound "town" are beginning to take for granted their access to the best fields, etc. If you want to see players who play with heart, you should see some of the kids from Central, Western or Labrador when they get the opportunity to host a skills camp or a tournament. There is a lot of soccer talent around the province, we just need to travel more to summer clubs and invest in coaching clinics and referee clinics for the rest of NL.

  • Favoritism
    May 20, 2011 - 14:52

    Taking the favoritism out of the all-star team selection at the local level would be a good starting point. Remove parent-coaches from this process completely. Pay an and independent selection committee to come in, run a camp and pick the teams without any input from parents. Bring back the confidence and sense of fairness that needs to exist in order for a program to be successful. Check back to U-12 all-star programs from 4 years ago and see how many athletes are still with the program by U-16. I think the statistics will reflect how effective these programs are.

  • Matt
    May 16, 2011 - 14:41

    I completely agree with Dragon. Why put a player with a lot of potential in high school sports just to get injured? If you want to play high school sports/sports other then soccer go ahead! You can still play soccer your just giving up a huge opprotunity

  • Matt
    May 16, 2011 - 14:39

    I completely agree with Dragon. Why put a player with a lot of potential in high school sports just to get injured? If you want to play high school sports/sports other then soccer go ahead! You can still play soccer your just giving up a huge opprotunity

  • gkirby
    May 16, 2011 - 09:05

    Think Gord mentioned PEI mens won Nationals last year. That was PEI and NB combined. Nova Scotia women won Nationals but they combine their senior teams to compete at Nationals. NL soccer won't allow us to pick up a 16 year old to compete. We are our own worst emenies. You want to figure out real issue with soccer look up CSA directors, They retire to retirement homes yet still attend CSA meetings. Don't think many under age of 60 on CSA. Assume if you die you are no longer a member or maybe not. Soccer is a CDN problem not just NL which can be experienced 1st hand at Nationals.

  • hlb
    May 15, 2011 - 20:40

    NL soccer is just fine !! Registration is up, new facilities are ongoing, a new indoor facility , up and running!! What is the problem?? More young people are being attracted to the sport and there is even a 6 and over age group in the SJSA!!! Keep the kids involved and the sport will continue to thrive!! What a great opportunity now, to have a serious indoor house league, right through the winter months!! OOOOOOOOOOOOO HHHHH sorry you were talking about the "elite" soccer players. Guess what -- who cares?? Are any of them going to make a living playing Professional soccer ?? I think not!! The RTC program has proven time and time again, they have failed miserably at producing a kid, male/female ,who can be a starter on a national youth team. That program needs to be scraped and new coaches and coaching methods, adopted. The Provincial teams will continue to place at National Tournaments, near the bottom , because of our low soccer playing , population base. There are always 1 or 2 that stand out on NL Prov. teams and like it or not, they ALL stand out in Provinces, where the soccer playing population base is higher!!. Certainly not rocket science!!! Soccer is not broke so, no need to fix it!! P.S. The teams playing the game today are much more knowledgeable and skilled, then teams of years gone bye , no matter what Mr. Dunphy wants you to believe!!

  • HLB
    May 14, 2011 - 20:22

    OH noooooooooo we can't compete with the other Provinces!! Will that change if we build 50 new indoor facilities, and have top notch coaches brought in?? Probably not!! You look at every youth all star team from this Province and there is always one or two that STAND OUT - always!! Now check out the Provinces with a bigger soccer playing population base - most all STAND OUT!! Not hard to figure out where this comment is going, is it ?? There will always be a team or two from the Atlantic Provinces who finish higher then expected at a National Chamionship, but by inlarge, they usually finish in and around the placing of where they should , - based on their soccer population base. NL soccer is not in trouble so there is no need to fix it !! Registration is up Province wide, new turf fields and a dandy indoor facility , only add to it's bright future!! Teams today are wayyyyyyyyyyy more talented then teams of yrs gone bye, no matter what Mr. Dunphy tries to tell us!! I would encourage the highly skilled kids who become involved with the RTC program to practice more on their own. Develop their skills outside the RTC camps and scouting weekends. To be a complete , higher skilled player, who can seriously have a chance at making a youth national team, the RTC program has proved time and time again, it's not enough. You have to - PRACTICE to be the best you can be!! One final note - soccer is still fairly cheap to play compared to hockey ,so I really hope an indoor house league at the new indoor facility, will occur next winter, for the kids not on the all star teams. Soccer has never been better in NL.

  • HLB
    May 14, 2011 - 20:20

    OH noooooooooo we can't compete with the other Provinces!! Will that change if we build 50 new indoor facilities, and have top notch coaches brought in?? Probably not!! You look at every youth all star team from this Province and there is always one or two that STAND OUT - always!! Now check out the Provinces with a bigger soccer playing population base - most all STAND OUT!! Not hard to figure out where this comment is going, is it ?? There will always be a team or two from the Atlantic Provinces who finish higher then expected at a National Chamionship, but by inlarge, they usually finish in and around the placing of where they should , - based on their soccer population base. NL soccer is not in trouble so there is no need to fix it !! Registration is up Province wide, new turf fields and a dandy indoor facility , only add to it's bright future!! Teams today are wayyyyyyyyyyy more talented then teams of yrs gone bye, no matter what Mr. Dunphy tries to tell us!! I would encourage the highly skilled kids who become involved with the RTC program to practice more on their own. Develop their skills outside the RTC camps and scouting weekends. To be a complete , higher skilled player, who can seriously have a chance at making a youth national team, the RTC program has proved time and time again, it's not enough. You have to - PRACTICE to be the best you can be!! One final note - soccer is still fairly cheap to play compared to hockey ,so I really hope an indoor house league at the new indoor facility, will occur next winter, for the kids not on the all star teams. Soccer has never been better in NL.

  • sports
    May 14, 2011 - 11:08

    Provincal teams? from my understanding a provincal team is made from talented players from around the province.. not made from St.Johns and Mount Pearl. When you look at provincal player lists about 90% of the team is from Mount Pearl and St.Johns. Yes both these citys have very good talent but what about the players around Corner Brooke, St.Lawrence, Grand-Falls do they get a chance to be scouted? No of course they dont because the NLSA can't get there head around Mount Pearl and St.Johns in most cases the coaches are from these to citys anyways. Its all where you come from, talent is nothing anymore its a shame that our kids have to deal with so much politics just to do something they love to do.

  • George Best
    May 13, 2011 - 23:11

    Coming from England in the 90's I started playing masters leagues here and I laughed so hard when I I heard people praise the the "Lawn" teams like they were the next World Cup team. So so naive were the soccer fans here to believe this little Province could be always competitive. The style of soccer here is what we call in the UK "huff and puff" redneck "footy" - no skill whatsoever and nasty low life tackles around the ankles. Stick to your bleacher creature bash 'em hockey leagues Newfoundland - you'er good at that!

    • limeybllicker
      May 14, 2011 - 22:12

      I played minor soccer in newfoundland in the 90's from under 10 and then challange cup. There have always been problems, mainly coachs from the avalon peninsula who would rather pick a team based on players from the avalon, supplemented with 2 or 3 outside. We won U19A easily just 2 players on the Summer Games team. We beat St. John's in the final, who had 12 players on this supposed Newfoundland all-star team. Not proud of the next statement but we actually threw the round robin game against St. John's so we wouldn't have to play Stephenville in the final. As for the George Best statements, it sounds like you got owned and can't play an actual physical game of soccer. About the only foreign player to ever attempt to play NEWFOUNDLAND Challange Cup and be successful was Dragan. I am by no means a fan or friend of his, but he could score. The rest were used to the dives and whatever else you did after the game. I know your type all to well, expect to be the best here because "I'm from a soccer country".

    • Work with Brits
      May 15, 2011 - 05:16

      Comment to "George Best". Typical snobbish Brit. I work offshore with a lot of them so I know thier "only race in the world attitude." No wonder the boys went for your ankles. I would say with your attitude, you took quite a few. If it wasn't for the people of this province and North America, you'd be speaking German. Suck it up George and quit you're whining.

  • CSH
    May 13, 2011 - 19:40

    Soccer is becoming an elitist sport in NL. Its becoming tremendeously expensive for a family to have kids play all-star soccer. Soccer has its worldwide popularity based on the fact that its (or should be) cheap to play. It is expensive to get off this island and we have teams of young kids routinely going off (overseas even) to play. I'm sure its a good experience for those kids lucky enough to have parents able and willing to afford it but does it develop players? Or does it make it impossible for average income families to put their kids in it?

  • Newfoundland Pele
    May 13, 2011 - 19:37

    One of the major problems that face Newfoundland teams in all sports is our population base. For soccer, realistically the sport is competitively played in three areas - mainly in the Eastern Avalon Peninsula, while there are smaller areas including Corner Brook and Burin Peninsula. Effectively, we have a population base of about 200,000 people from which to choose our elite players from. The facts are we are a rural province where the majority of our kids are not exposed to elite sports, coaches and training. In comparison, the province with the smallest population -PEI - has a population of 150,000, but practically all these people are within an hours drive or Charlottetown or Summerside and in theory can participate in competitive sports. Nova Scotia has a population of about a million people ie at least twice the to ttimes the pool we have in Newfoundland. My point is our soccer pool is the 9th largest in Canada and we should be realistic as to how we place in national competitions.

  • Soccer Mom
    May 13, 2011 - 18:48

    I have to comment on the issue of multiple sports. My child plays on one of the younger provincial teams. The "contract" that was given the child to sign after making the team allowed for other sports to be played, however, it was very explicit that if a conflict with the other sport resulted in a provincial training camp being missed, then the child would be dropped from the team. My child does compete in another sport at a fairly competitive level. This sports has year end competitions that take place at this time of the year. What bothers me is that full training schedule for my child's particular provincial team was not given at the beginning of the year. I understand that logistics around planning provincial training camps must be difficult, but you cannot fault the child if he/she, having not been aware far enough in advance, commits to another activity. The child should not be threatened, especially at young age, to be kicked off a team. Maybe that's why so many kids move on to other sports... they just get turned off...as do the parents.

  • GK
    May 13, 2011 - 14:23

    Unlike a certain senior ladies team, some teams use the regular season as "practice" games to determine who plays well with who and who will work the best for final weekend. Those teams who play their best all season will most likely win all season but run the risk of loosing valuable players to injuries. Oh and, have a look at the final weekend scores. there were no blow out games - it was all close (within 2 goals).. Jusssssssssssttttttttttttttttttttt sayin...... Cheers

    • Ricardo
      May 13, 2011 - 16:31

      Seems to me before debating whether we have the level of soccer we want and how we might get it, we need to ask a fundmental question: what do we want from soccer? Do we want strong local competition such as that exemplified by senior men's and high-school soccer until they started to decline in the 1990s? Or so we want the strongest Newfoundland teams we can have competing at the National level, which might involve focusing more on a selective "all-star" approach? Can you have both? Do you in fact need one to have the other?

  • MP Gaffer
    May 13, 2011 - 14:22

    Soccer is not developing our players because the coaching at the higher levels is absolutely brutal in most cases, the NLSA itself doesn't follow any sort of business plan nor is it managed by business people, and this province (unlike BC, AB, QUE, ONT, NS ...) has not officially signed on to the CSA long term player development program. We need properly educated coaches using up to date philosophies from western europe to teach the game and set the right development priorities. Currently the training of our players has been pushed back down to the club level. The club level coaching is just concerned about winning the provincial A titles and it sacrifices overall player development to do this. The NLSA would do well to get some experienced business people to manage the organization and give it a direction under a plan and leave the existing technical people to deal with technical issues.

  • AN
    May 13, 2011 - 14:06

    Couple of comments, 1. As to the comment from Mr Dunphy about the lack of quality coaches. This couldn't be farther from the truth. At almost all clubs today you have the majority of coaches who have gone through NLSA and CSA coaching courses with many obtaining CSA licenses. My own experience from growing up in the 80/90s on St. John's "Allstar" teams was that we had well intentioned but poorly trained Parent coaches, something not seen today for the most part. 2. As for the success of the MUN teams, why doesn't someone ask the Challenge Cup teams who win the Provincial title and plan on attending national competition how they feel about their players playing for MUN. All too often we have a selfish attitude from a lot of coaches that prevents athletes from playing on more than one team or in more than one sport.

  • BaffledOne
    May 13, 2011 - 13:42

    Kids out of shape? Me thinks not... try getting around the lake tomorrow evening without getting run over by basketball teams that are in training... check the results fir recent Eastern Canadian championships for young girls and boys... perhaps the elitist townie approach to soccer has finally become outdated... why not pattern the NLBA and try some fair play rules with your younger teams... stop driving kids away from the sport because the can't score ten goals a game at age 5! Drop by the PowerPlex in June and watch the NL Basketball teams win the Eastern Canadian Championships.... or you can keep with your approach and send the ' Select Kids ' to the mainland to finish 10th!

  • Derrick
    May 13, 2011 - 13:01

    To "Mulitple Sports"....you are correct. Soccer has gotten too big for its boots!!! I know several kids in Mt. Pearl who quit going to tryouts in the WINTER because they wanted to play other sports. So Mt. Pearl soccer release them from the allstar teams and in a lot of cases, these are the best players.

  • kmorgan
    May 13, 2011 - 12:49

    I have a daughter who as a child loved soccer more than anything else. As she grew older and was developed under the minor soccer system her love of the game died. The insistence of coaches at the club and national levels to restrict participants to starters and substitutes resulted in many agonizing moments waiting to get to play and never getting in. If we want to develop players then all players must be given an opportunity to play. This is why they leave the sport as these children want to compete not watch others play.

  • Mike
    May 13, 2011 - 11:55

    School System is nonexistent. Mr. Dunphy and Mr. Mirkovic are making excellent points that are long overdue. Their arguments also apply to most of our other provincial amateur sports too. This is not a soccer problem, it's a major problem with amateur sport in NL. It's also a challenge within our society. When they refer to the success of the 70's, 80's and 90's they didn't mention that our school system provided the foundation for developing much of the skill and competitiveness. Today, with little to no school involvement we see a noncompetitive attitude in our youth. How did it get to this mess? Not too long ago this province had a fiscal problem where significant cuts had to be made, As a result amateur sport took it from both ends, municipal and provincial. Thus, we eliminated our community involvement, especially in the larger centres. Not to mention the downward trend in our birth rate. The answer is to change it back to something similar (or better) than it was. Remember when it took a community to raise a child? Not any more! Today it's the parents that have to foot the bill and do 100% of the work to ensure their child has any sport involvement. All while both are working 50 hours per week. Why do you think obesity is so prevalent? It's a combination of no community involvement and cost. Why not start with a phys. ed. class everyday. Work on muscle memory at a young age and bring back a school versus school competition. The attitude that our kids have today is the result of what their being exposed too. In other words, you get what you pay for! The kids are complacent because the system breeds complacency. Is there a will to change? The provinces that are experiencing the most consistent results are the ones that are community based with a strong affiliation with their education system. 'It does take a community to raise a child!"

  • What you don't know
    May 13, 2011 - 10:42

    The problem is not always politics, policies, etc. What you don't know is that is that in other provinces their prov funding for sport programs has increased substantially over time. Today prov sport funding from the gov of NL has been the same for over 10 years! You cannot win if you only provide opportunities to the social elite and not the sport elite!

  • robert
    May 13, 2011 - 10:41

    Too many electronic devices (tv, ps3, ipad, iphone, ipod, xbox, computers, texting, facebook, twitter, etc. etc. etc). Look around, most people young and old are overweight. There are no kids on the street anymore, Years ago you went outside and came home for meals. You were always active, not today. Parents are to blame too. Some are not even around their children until they both get home from work in the evening, then they have to prepare supper, do the dishes, clean up etc and there is no more time for kids let alone supervise them or ensure that they get exercise. The world is changing.

  • Donny Dooley
    May 13, 2011 - 10:25

    My little girl can't play very well but I can afford to pay the approx $6000 a year in fees and travel expenses so she's on the team. I know kids that could play circles around her but their family can't afford it. That $6000 that I pay for her includes flying the coach, manager and half the soccer executive to the tournaments for free! It's only fair that she would have to pay their way too because they are only volunteers.Her team has a major sponser but I don't mind having to buy the jersey and pay to have the sponsors name put on it - the banks are having a hard time with the recession. I heard there's a tournament coming to St. John's soon and although we obviously won't have to travel to get to Quidi Vidi we still have to pay $2100 travel fees to offset the cost for the teams that will be travelling. Well, I don't mind paying it, I can afford it. Now, if I can only get my little girl to stop scoring on her own net!

  • Mike Power
    May 13, 2011 - 10:23

    I must jump to defend NLSA on the comment from "Multiple Sports". The facts are wrong here. The NLSA does not have a policy or has never banned players from playing high school sports or other sports. In fact, every fall we intentionally schedule our provincial team tryouts around the 4A soccer tournaments so the players can indeed do both. There is, however, a Canadian Soccer Association policy that states players who are involved with the NTC / RTC (a CSA program for the most elite players who are scouted and trained as possible future National team players) are not permitted to play high school sports. Surely you can see why a potential national team player should avoid playing in an over-aggressive, borderline dangerous, generally low-skilled high school league. (and that is not meant to be an insult to high school sports, it is just an honest comparison to the level that a potential National team player should be competing at) The NLSA simply applies this CSA policy to a very very small percentage of players.

    • Multiple Sports
      May 13, 2011 - 15:10

      I'd like invite parents of players 'asked' not to participate in other sports while participating in RTC to respond to Mike's statement. While I'm sure it's not a written policy, it is definitely communicated to the players. Wonder does NLSA and HNL ever get together and ensure their respective provincials camps aren't run the same times?

    • PARENT
      May 15, 2011 - 00:11

      All RTC players have a contract to sign at the beginning of entering the program, which does state that the kids cannot play other sports. Although they do agree to this, many do not follow the rules set out by these contracts. I know for a fact that over half the players in the program (even NTC players) play other sports. Also, the NLSA is horrible at arranging their camps around other important activities, such as last years NL Winter Games...most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids. There were provincial camps scheduled during this time and it was not a pretty situation to be in with the NLSA. RTC is demanding, but it's necessary I suppose....there needs to be more support for soccer, as you can tell through these comments. Club needs to be improved as well.

  • Red
    May 13, 2011 - 09:48

    Soccer is for pansies, we are a winter country and can only play it for a couple of months a year anyway. We aren't South America so lets stick to something more exciting like hockey where you can see people actually score a goal.

  • Been There
    May 13, 2011 - 08:58

    The greatest hinderance to the soccer program is the ongoing politics behind the scene. As we see with many sports there is still the "favorites" that will make the teams and the better players are "overlooked". No wonder some players do not give 100% because they know they do not have to and they will still be on the field. As long as we have the my son plays ons on my team mentality soccer will never progress. Don't get me wrong, we appreciate all the parents as volunteers but leave the coaching and player choosing to the coaches.

  • Multiple Sports
    May 13, 2011 - 07:57

    While I commend Mr. Mirkovic for his time, maybe if NLSA were to stop insisting players only play the sport of soccer they might see the game grow. How can he expect growth when he bans players from participanting in other sports. One example was his ban of provincial soccer players from playing high school soccer or hockey. By the way, participating in more then one sport improves an individuals overall fitness and abilities. Please don't place the blame of taking the fun out of the game solely on parents, you might want to look at your own policies.

    • John
      May 19, 2011 - 01:32

      What do you think this will all be forgotten quickly if Holy Cross or St. Lawrence were to win the sr. national Challenge Cup again. It could happen. Am I wrong in thinking that the Clarenville Cabribous blew everyone out of the water when they recently won the Allan Cup? And what about the sr. ball hockey team that won the nats at home last summer. I understand NL had done horribly at that event for a decade before winning it again. I saw Holy Cross play at the national Challenge Cup in 2009 in Saskatoon. They were only a goal or two out of the medals. Soccer could be next.