Women's group up in air

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

The Canadian Professional Soccer League is ready to kick off it's new women's division.

Better make that sort of ... maybe ... perhaps.

Well, at least Harry Gauss of London City has his women's team ready go this year.

He'll have to wait and see whether the CPSL decides to begin operating the division this year or next. The league is awaiting approval from the Ontario Soccer Association for the women's division to be recognized.

Confused?

It's soccer. Expect to be confused.

"We're ready to go," Gauss said before heading to Toronto to discuss the women's teams and other soccer business. "We need someplace to showcase these women players. These are women who can play at the highest level of the game."

Gauss has a coaching staff, with Tonino Commisso as head coach.

Women's soccer is growing at all levels, particularly at the minor level. At various age groups, our national women's teams have had far more success than men's programs. With so many quality players, the CPSL thought it would be a natural for any city with a CPSL men's team to establish a woman's program.

The league was also concerned about the advent of the W-League, a North American professional women's league. The W-League has several Canadian franchises but is administered in the United States.

Twelve CPSL women's teams were expected to take to the field as of June 13, one for each CPSL men's franchise. But Gauss says six are scheduled to participate in a home-and-home schedule. Joining London will be Windsor, Oshawa, North York, Vaughan and Toronto Supra.

Stan Adamson of the CPSL said yesterday there are some issues to resolve.

"In principle, the CPSL set up a women's division for this year," he said. "It's got some hurdles because there's already a women's structure in Ontario, so the CPSL has to apply to the OSA. The first consideration was to have (a division) in 2005, then, because of the things to be done to satisfy the OSA, that was changed to 2006.

"It's now still an attempt (to get it going) for 2005. It's very much at the planning stage, very much in the works. Whether it's 2005 or 2006 . . . if you ask Harry, he says 90 per cent for 2005, but realistically my numbers are a 50-50 proposition for 2005. It could go in 2005 but it may be put back to 2006 because there's a lot of work to be done."

If you work through that carefully, you can come up with this translation: No one knows what's going on and there hasn't been enough preparation done. What hits you is that even though the CPSL made an announcement last May about the women's component, here it is February and it still has no approval from the OSA. In fact, only six of the teams in the CPSL have decided to enter teams in a women's division.

No translation needed for that number.

"I think (the OSA) likes what the CPSL has and what they can do," Adamson said.

"Their inclination is to say, 'These people are in the business of soccer at a professional level but it has to go through a process.' "

Gauss has always been a progressive sort when it comes to soccer. If something is good for the game, it should be implemented. But anyone who follows the game or has been involved in it also knows how difficult it is to change anything for the better.

"It's a culture shock for some people. They still can't believe that women are out of the kitchen," Gauss said.

"The numbers tell us this is a growing product and it's a good product. It can be entertaining."

Now that's something to look forward to this year. Or is it next year?

Better make that whenever.


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