soccer@tss.ca
1751 Savage Road, Richmond, BC

Bending the Rules-BC Soccer AGM Heading Offside

ImageIt’s voting time again at the BC Soccer AGM this weekend. It’s always fascinating to watch the political machinery go to work. The establishment can certainly be creative in solving problems when there’s a political will to do so. That creativity is on full display with a few proposed amendments. In particular, there’s Amendment #4 and Amendment #10 which both relate to the youth league known as the BC Premier League (HPL).

AMENDMENT #4

Essentially Amendment #4 is about solving a very real problem, namely that the BC Premier League is not currently a member of BC Soccer. Youth soccer in this province is divided into geographical regions known as districts such as North Shore, Vancouver, Richmond, Upper Island, etc. The BC Premier League is not a member of a youth district and therefore has no real status within that structure. There is currently no provision in the Constitution to allow a youth league to be a member of the BCSA. BC Soccer is recommending a solution in Amendment #4 which is to make the BC Premier League a district. Huh? Yes, that’s correct, a league would now become a district. For those interested, the Webster Dictionary definition of a district is: a territorial division (as for administrative or electoral purposes) or an area region, or section with distinguishing characteristics (ie. a shopping district). Essentially this is like selling a car and calling it a boat. But this doesn’t seem to deter those in charge from recommending this solution. For me personally it’s confounding because I’ve spent years trying to run a soccer business in this province and regularly come up against obstacles in the form of a system that has no place for such a business. I’m continually told that the “system” is intractable. The rules are the rules. But this weekend, BC Soccer will magically turn a car into boat.

Wait, it’s gets better. On top of this is Amendment #1 A which proposes that if Amendment #4 is passed, the Vancouver Whitecaps can then register their youth players within this new High Performance Youth District (which is a youth league). Confused? Just a little. What the Whitecap residency players have to do with a youth league being given district status, a league they don’t even play in, is beyond our scope of understanding and should be beyond the membership’s as well.

And what about clubs like Surrey United, Coquitlam Metro Ford, Coastal , etc. who are all currently members of youth districts as well as members of the HPL? Won’t these clubs now have political influence with two different districts?

To add insult to injury, this non-member league is set to receive partial proceeds from the Whitecaps 50/50 draw, over $50,000, (that the BCSA administers) which will act as a “slush” fund to pay back HPL Clubs who provide scholarships to needy players. Wow. TSS Academy has around 20 scholarships a season and receives no such back fill compensation for their financially strained players. What about all the District Clubs who provide funding to these types of players? Where is their kickback?

As you can see this is a very tangled web. It is also interesting to note that the HPL Society’s registered office is actually the BCSA address. Furthermore, this non-profit was not incorporated until October of 2012, close to 18 months after the league was formed. Who is running this outfit?

AMENDMENT #10

The other Amendment that really and truly violates the spirit of cup play competition is Amendment #10. This amendment will make permanent the rule that the Premier Cup shall only be open to youth teams registered with the HPL. The Premier Cup is the only youth competition that flows through to a national championship

Here are just some recent examples (and there a many) of David vs Goliath scenarios brought on by open cup play.

Wigan vs Millwall
FA Cup Semi Final
April 13, 2013
1st tier vs 2nd tier

Swansea City vs Bradford City
Capital One League Cup Final
Feb 24, 2013
1st tier vs 4th tier

It is the nature of these competitions around the globe to have the different tiers competing against each other. Even in the US they have the US Open Cup which could pitch MLS teams against 3rd and 4th tier soccer clubs. For some reason in our “protectionist” world of Canadian Soccer, we seem to completely rail against this type of competition and open access. One just has to look at the closed shop of the Amway Cup where only the four “professional” teams need apply. What about the CSL teams in Ontario? Why not Surrey United Men, current BC Amateur Champions, being allowed to put their hat in the ring? Let the competition prove who is king. But not here. You know why? Because these pro clubs are scared the unthinkable might happen. Well the unthinkable is exactly why Cup Play is so captivating. Why does BC Soccer not want 2nd tier access? Because low and behold, if some teams were to rise to the occasion from the lower levels, it would impact the attraction of this new league that they have put all their energy into. If the league is truly the development mecca that it claims to be, whats the worry? These teams should win all the time anyway. This limited access here is truly shameful and might be one of the most chicken shit things that has come out of the governing body in years - maybe ever.

This Amendment to close off access permanently to the Premier Cup is shameful and needs to be defeated. I particularly love the rationale on this: “The outcome will provide for the best scenario and provide British Columbia the opportunity to deliver the most competitive teams to compete at the CSA Club Championships at all levels”. Excuse me, but shouldn’t the competition platform decide who is worthy? 

These two Amendments may not seem significant but they are. This will drastically change the landscape here in BC at the youth level for the future. I ask that all the voting members consider this carefully as once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it is impossible to put back in. Maybe it is time for the senior soccer members to no longer “abstain” from the youth vote on this for the first time in many years. These are important issues and the entire membership should have their say - not just one portion.

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Colin Elmes
Managing Director
TSS Academy

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