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I would like to express my opinion, as a former volunteer club soccer coach who has coached at the Canadian club nationals 14 times, on the use of, basically, all-star teams representing P.E.I. at the soccer nationals.
This past year’s placings at nationals indicate that even our all-star teams, which are made up of talented players but only those who can afford the high cost associated with the program, did not fare any better than many of the club teams that represented the province in previous years. An eighth, ninth and two tenth place finishes is at best equal to club team finishes in the past or in some cases much lower than the club teams. This is after these teams played the regular season in the Nova Scotia league with those costs added to the cost of attending Nationals.
I personally have been involved with club teams that have won two bronze medals, numerous fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes and some seventh, eighth and ninth place finishes. This clearly indicates that club teams can compete at the national level if the proper club formation and training is in place.
My first concern with P.E.I. FC is what it does to our club systems and the natural attraction of playing for the right to represent P.E.I. at the youth levels. Presently, the P.E.I. FC teams are identified as P.E.I.’s representative without any playoff at the under-15 and under-17 male and female age groups. To me, this is an injustice to the club system that develops the players and spends a great deal of effort in creating places for players of all levels to play. It also takes away the right for club teams and players to compete to represent P.E.I. at the club nationals each year in October.
When clubs competed for the Provincial Challenge Cup there was a great deal of club excitement, players attended training and games as there was a goal to aim for, to represent your province at the nationals. Players in the first division also had a goal, it was to make the premier team within their respective clubs, that motivation is now gone so players generally use the club teams as a recreational activity and attend accordingly.
I fear that the P.E.I. FC program will diminish the participation in club soccer because it takes away the goal of all competitive players, to represent their province. I believe that our clubs will have trouble developing a club loyalty, maintaining a quality competitive program and developing top level players and coaches.
Again, this is only my opinion and by no means diminishes the great job and commitment of all the P.E.I. FC team staff as they coached and managed their respective teams. Keep this beautiful game in the clubs as it is all around the world!
Wally Morrison (a former P.E.I. club soccer coach),