Soccer body slow to do its job

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

If the Ontario Soccer Association isn't capable of making a decision over a two-year period, it's time the organization found new people to run the joint.

Anyone who has ever been involved in soccer appreciates it is the greatest game in the world. They also understand what most often stifles the growth of the game is at the administrative level. The game is analysed to death, risks are rarely taken and politics replaces progress.

The Canadian Professional Soccer League has a number of people involved who love soccer and want to see the game advance.

One of the better ideas they had was to pair the CPSL men's league with a women's division. Discussions have been ongoing for years. Last year, the CPSL made the jump and formed its women's division.

It was new and anything new in soccer causes consternation and much study.

While the idea of a women's league seemed simple enough, the CPSL ran into difficulty with some teams and especially with the OSA. The OSA expressed concerns about everything from the availability of players to the swiftness of the league's formation to, for all we know, the colour of the game ball (pink as it turns out.)

The political side of things took precedence. There was uproar from the Canadian teams in the other professional league, the W-League, which includes the London Gryphons, about a watering down of the product.

In an effort to get the league going last year, the CPSL decided to use a summer-long tournament format for its schedule this season, knowing plans were made to formalize the league for next year.

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

The OSA board of directors voted Sunday to prevent any new leagues from forming until 2007.

They will work on a report on the structure of women's play in the province for February 2006. Given the swiftness of how the OSA works, the organization has indicated there won't be enough time to start a league next season after the report is presented.

So to review. The OSA knew the CPSL wanted to operate a women's league. The OSA must surely know the fastest-growing sector in the game of soccer is for women. The CPSL announced in March 2005 a women's division would operate. The OSA had plenty of time to get this study done.

It's ridiculous it waited this long to initiate a report. It's ridiculous that even after the report is completed the OSA believes there won't be time to form any new leagues.

The OSA doesn't need a study that will tell us whether this province can sustain a number of women's teams. This area and this country produce far more quality women players than it does men.

The development of men's soccer has always been stunted by a lack of top leagues to play in and the players developed stunted by a lack of top teams to play against.

Outstanding players always find a place to play. But players with potential to become outstanding often leave the game because they grow frustrated moving up the competitive ladder.

Women don't need to run into the same roadblocks or aggravating circumstances.

The OSA's job is not to prevent the growth of the game. It's their job to facilitate the growth of the game.


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