Wednesday 13 November 2019, 17:51

FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) partner to support youth and senior competitions 

  • Over 10,000 players and 600 teams from the U-15 and U-17 categories, including boys and girls, competed to qualify for the National Championships finals

  • Edmonton, Charlottetown and St. John’s hosted the national tournament, with 673 female and 716 male players thanks to the FIFA Forward Programme

  • The competition was watched in 36 different countries

  • All competitions provided a perfect platform for the training of the Local Organizing Committees (LOCs) to strengthen regional competition management capacities

In line with the Canadian Soccer Association’s (CSA) football development strategy for the cycle 2019-2022, the youth and senior competitions, boosted through the FIFA Forward Programme were celebrated over the last few months. These competitions intend to increase the competitiveness of the MA’s regional tournaments and age categories, which winners qualify to the National Championships finals. The finals provide a clear incentive to the participant teams as the vision of facing the best teams of the country is a high motivational aspiration that enhances the competitiveness of the players. These nationwide tournaments also allow the CSA the opportunity to build and strengthen capacity of those regional associations collaborating to deliver a professional organization and great experience to the participants.

This project also aimed at enhancing capacities of the participating referees, providing them with more experience by refereeing competitive matches, taking part in training sessions, as well as receiving proper analysis of their performance during the tournament.

Hosting of national championships can result in a series of benefits, such as facility improvement, training of personnel, and more sporting opportunities for referee scouting. The championships are held for both men and women’s teams, providing a platform for the sake of development of the entire player pool indirectly supporting the national teams and general football development in the Iong run.

The organisation of the national stage of the tournament begins approximately one year before its actual implementation. Once the host cities have been selected, the first step is the organisation of a National Workshop in which the CSA meets with the three Local Associations in order to create a joint work plan. This national event is also an opportunity to provide orientation and training to the new LOCs. Areas like security, communications or ethics are tackled during this event to ensure the efficient implementation of all organizational aspects of the competition.

Organising a high-standard competition is key in developing football at all levels as it provides the right level of experience for both professional and amateur players and to those who will be involved in the game, such as administrators, referees or coaches. For example, coaches participating in the national championships must have successfully completed the appropriate coaching education and licensing programmes. By developing better coaches at a grassroots Ievel and creating the best possible environment for player and coach development, the CSA will improve the calibre of players reaching the professional level of the sport. In addition to the improvements aforementioned, 25 volunteers per venue will help to deliver the whole event under the best conditions in particular for the teams and officials.

In summary, these competitions offer the CSA a perfect combination, including a great format and optimal circumstances for players to develop mentally, technically and tactically; whilst the regional associations are acquiring organisational and event management skills and experience; and without forgetting young referee’s crucial role, performing under the most professional conditions as possible. This is why the FIFA Forward Programme had the pleasure to contribute to this important strategic activity.

“This competition provides a truly unique opportunity to showcase the top amateur players from coast-to-coast and crown six Toyota National Championships winners in three age divisions,” said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer General Secretary. “With over 10,000 players, coaches and officials across our 13 provincial and territorial member associations vying to reach the largest national championships in Canada, this competition is a testament that we are Canada Soccer Nation.”

“Refereeing is one of my biggest passions," said Kaitlyn Stang, referee at the tournament and beneficiary of the training sessions. "Getting selected as an official in the gold medal match of U-15 Nationals was incredible and a goal that I’ve had for a while. It was such a great opportunity getting to work with and learn from so many incredible people. It was an experience I will never forget!”

“Every year a team from BC will attend the men’s national championships however this year was a year that no one will forget," said Derrick Bassi, player of the Central City Breakers Football Club, BC. "This entire tournament was dedicated to my younger brother Brandon Bassi, who was also on the team and passed away this year. Our team showed that in every game we played even when we went down a goal versus Manitoba in our first game. We grew as individuals but more importantly as a team of brothers all knitted together by the love for Brandon. The tournament was very well organised and professional which really shows how much Canada Soccer has improved over the years and how far we have come to hopefully compete at the world stage one day.”