CSL abandons women

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

If the Canadian Soccer League was put in charge of a one-car funeral, don't count on the car getting to the right cemetary on time.

Look how long it's taken the CSL to establish a women's league.

It hasn't been established yet? Point made.

It shouldn't come as a surprise but the CSL, formerly the Canadian Professional Soccer League, still hasn't been able to organize its women's division into a real league.

The league's first venture into the world of women's soccer took place last year when the women's CPSL was supposed to have been formed.

Cutting through the soccer manure pile to get a sniff of what's true is difficult at best. The failure of the CSL to form a league last year was put at the feet of the Ontario Soccer Association, which didn't want any leagues formed, even an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny league where some of the best women players in Ontario could play. Supposedly, the OSA didn't want two women's leagues competing for players.

Some soccer people, who can see farther than the end of their nose, realized another league would only help the development of women's soccer, not hinder it. Especially if a player didn't want to play in the other women's league, the W-League, because of travel.

The CPSL made some mewing noises but, in reality, rolled over and played dead for the OSA. After all, the old boys in the back room weren't all that ready to shed blood for women's soccer.

London City women's team general manager Ryan Gauss, along with men's manager Harry Gauss (Ryan's father), were driving forces behind establishing some sort of league or division for women. They've always supported the women's game. In the end, a six-team division was formed and while not a sanctioned league, games were played and there was a Canada Cup tournament at the end of the season for the top four teams.

The play was entertaining.

After the mountain was scaled, the expectation was that the only thing left to conquer were mostly foothills since one year had been played and an entire winter lay ahead to prepare for another season.

That's almost two years for everything to be running smoothly. That, regardless of whether the OSA formally recognized the division as a league this year, the CSL would be organized enough to have the teams ready, a schedule set and a support system in place for the teams playing in 2006.

One would figure the league would be sowing the seed for 2007, that it would go to its clubs and ask them to establish a women's team, getting the word out there to potential players that the CSL was serious about women's soccer and while this wasn't yet a league, this was serious business.

Instead of the theme to Rocky, they got the music to the Mickey Mouse Club.

"We do have an interest in a women's league," said CSL commissioner Cary Kaplan. "We didn't push (the OSA) too hard for a league for 2006. It's a better fit for 2007. If we stopped playing women's soccer this year, there would be a problem. The fact we're going to have an evolved Canada Cup-type of tournament situation, although as I've said nothing is finalized yet . . . "

He's right about that. Nothing is finalized. Ryan Gauss said the league will begin play on June 18, but there's no schedule, no structure of play, no set number of teams (six, maybe seven, do I hear eight) and even though there's supposed to be a year-end tournament, no one knows how that's going to work.

After all, if the OSA is looking at whether a league is serious enough to be considered a league in 2007, this would have been the year for the CSL to show them that.

"It's frustrating because it shows the narrow-mindedness and the old blood within the OSA because they are letting women's soccer die in this province, trying to stunt its growth before it can become something," Gauss said.

He's right. And they're getting plenty of help from the CSL.


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