New boss at the Hart of the matter ... or directly in the line of fire?

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

He has seen the present, now it is Stephen Hart's task to shape the future of Canadian soccer.

Depending on your point of view, the veteran coach and official was either given a nice promotion yesterday or the lead role of mission impossible.

In the CSA's first step down the long and bumpy road toward respectability, Hart was named the organization's technical director.

The major move is expected to come in the next week when the sport's beleaguered governing body names its new general secretary, a senior position more in line with many of the world's developed soccer nations.

"I have no illusions about it - I have a massive task," Hart said yesterday on a media conference call. "But the responsibility of developing the program in the country lies with all of us in the game, not one single man.

"No individual is going to come in and wave a magic wand."

For the time being though, Hart may be the busiest man in Canadian soccer. The former technical director for soccer Nova Scotia is currently Dale Mitchell's assistant coach for our senior national team and is headed to Europe tomorrow for an upcoming friendly.

While he will continue to work with those players as they make their bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Hart's bigger responsibility will be to develop talent for 2014 and beyond.

"The senior level is not going to fall under me," Hart said. "My responsibility, along with the staff in place, is to groom players to move on to the next level. Hopefully we progress and things fall along in more of a professional manner, for lack of a better word.

"Hopefully we will get our priorities right at each stage."

With the rising domestic popularity of the sport over the past year, failure in getting results from those priorities has brought greater scrutiny to the CSA and its operation.

Players at the senior level have grown frustrated, then there was the debacle of last year's under-20 World Cup when Canada was a winless, goalless host nation.

In an effort to rattle the system from the roots up, the CSA is hopeful the two significant hires will improve both the strength and effectiveness of the national body.

CSA president Dominic Maestracci said Hart was the successful candidate from 15 applicants for the technical position, including six from outside Canada. Most importantly, Maestracci said directors from across the country made it a unanimous call.

"Part of our strategic planning is to look at the development of young players and the development of coaches," Maestracci said. "And that has been endorsed by all of the provincial directors."

That consensus-building will be even more crucial under the yet-to-be-named general secretary, whose position is hoped to give those hired by the CSA to fix things, the clout to do so.

"The most important thing is the reconstruction and the realignment (of the national office)," said a source familiar with the inner workings. "For starters, staff members will be reporting to a senior staff member as opposed to reporting to volunteers."


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