Saturday, June 1, 2013

When will Canadian Soccer benefit from our multiculturalism?

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So many people from so many great footballing nations all living in Canada, involved in soccer.

This is not about new Canadians cheering for other countries.  That is addressed in this podcast by Pedro Mendes.

New Canadians have made contributions to our game in a big way.  They play, coach, officiate,  start and administer clubs and bring some serious passion to the pitch.  Many have connections back home that they utilize to provide the occasional opportunity for an aspiring player.

The efforts of those new Canadians who have been coming here since 1900 have positively affected the level of commitment of their children and grandchildren. 

"Why hasn't this gift to our country helped turn Canada into a soccer juggernaut?"  
There are many occasions where immigrants have invested and spent THEIR OWN MONEY to
mutli-culturalism canada soccerdevelop pitches and clubs all over Canada so they can stay close to the game. They've opened their wallets and their homes to the soccer community, in a big way.

Toronto Italia, Hamilton Croatia, Niagara Falls Serbia, Toronto Panhellenic, Sudbury Portuguese, Croatia SC Vancouver, Welland Hungarian and God only knows how many teams called "Vasco da Gama".  All initiatives of cultural groups around Canada.

New Canadians have also chosen to play for Canada on many occasions.

From 1900 forward , Europeans have been making Canada their home at a steady rate.  Starting in the 1980s, Africans, Asians, Caribbeans, Central and South Americans have been calling Canada home and bringing their passion with them.  Some are former youth academy players and/or coaches.  For the last 40 years the occasional ex-professional comes to Canada to live out their retirement and gets involved in the game here.

If we had this situation in medicine, art or financial investment, Canada would be at the forefront of those disciplines.

Why hasn't this gift to our country helped turn Canada into a soccer juggernaut?  Think about it.
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I am not talking about participation; it's sky high.  I'm not talking about building facilities; we're OK in that department and improving.  We're not talking about fans going to MLS games as all three teams have strong crowds.

I am talking about the lack of a style and philosophy known as "Canadian" that embraces everything that's good about our families' collective football histories and integrating what is characteristically Canadian.  Players knowing that philosophy and looking to excel as Canadian players.

Moving our development model into a more uniform framework (not robotic, but philosophically consistent) may help.

Asking the question is not a matter of blame, but rather as the beginning of a conversation.

I don't think you can blame our cultural mosaic, accusing cultures of keeping to themselves, because all of those cultural based teams in Canada go after the best players and coaches they can find, regardless of culture.  All of those cultures' top soccer people (in Canada) openly exchange information and share ideas.  Club executives around the country include various nationalities around the same table.

I can tell you, first hand,  as a coach in the education stream since 1988, that Ontario and Canadian Soccer has embraced everybody and anybody who can contribute at a high level, at the executive, instructor, coaching and playing level.  There hasn't been a preference for a certain countries style or methods.

Hopefully the changing tide of National team fan support at BMO Field and the more intense media eye on our national program draws more experienced people into the conversation, with opinions and ideas.

Like every other conversation about Canadian soccer, I bet it would be very passionate and interesting.