Well, there’s always hockey and rowing

8 10 2008

Jim Brennan has retired from national team duty and Canada dropped to 84th in FIFA World Rankings.  Well wait, no he hasn’t.  He’s just not participating while the current regime is in place.  Check out the video for yourself.

Now, I’m not going to comment on his decision, but rather on the larger issue.  Why is it the Canadian National Men’s Program cannot right itself?  I’ve heard everything from coaching to management to politics to youth development, and I’m sure it is a combination of all of these.  It’s sad that in 22 years, we haven’t been able to progress beyond our 1986 World Cup appearance.  But what is most sad of all to me, is that we are getting to the point where people just don’t care.  And I’m one of them.

I really don’t follow the Canadian team and I think that is telling in itself. Not only do I work in the sport, but I typically absorb anything that involves national pride and achievement. If I saw old Mark McCoy walking down the street, I’d hurdle my desk just to give him a high five. But in truth the Canadian men’s soccer team occupies no tenancy in my sport-heart.

The hope is toot, toot, tat, toot, toot ta! Sorry that was me blowing my own horn. Let me put it down so I can type properly.

The hope is that the professional clubs like the Whitecaps can take the reigns and provide the type of leadership this country needs.  The Whitecaps Residency program is the trailblazer for this, but both Toronto and Montreal are heading in this direction.  And the proof is in the pudding. The residency squad went to their first Dallas Cup, a prestigious tournament that was ultimately won by Liverpool’s youth team. Our boys lost 1-0 to Benfica and drew both Frankfurt and Chivas Guadelejara – evidence that in their first season, they can compete with some of the top youth programs in the world. They have also made a few trips to Germany, playing various U19 clubs and earning the admiration of many coaches and players over there. And of course, they routinely play against local University teams who field players five years their senior and thrash them: 3-0 over UBC and 5-1 over Gonzaga to name a few.

So all this is to say that my hope rests solely with the players. Due to our efforts, as well as Toronto and Montreal, we will develop the players and from there exert real influence on the national program. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but apparently Australia had a similar revolution-of-sorts and now they are shoe-ins for every World Cup.  But it all starts with developing the players.

Help me Edwini-Bonsu, you’re my only hope.




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