Part of my job with TSS Academy is to stay current with all things soccer in this country, province and here in the lower mainland. Back in January of this year I really began to notice a trend in National team selection that is quite disturbing, particularly if you are a BC born player. I looked at four (4) camps which were called by the CSA in the months of January and February. Here is what I found:
Men's National Team Camp - 0 BC players invited
Men's U23 Team Camp - 1 BC Player invited
Women's U20 Team Camp - 2 BC players invited
Women's U17 Team Camp - 3 players invited
For those of you who like statistics this is a total of 6 players from BC out of a total of 83 players invited, or about 7% of the total team camp make up. More recently, the trend has continued:
July 30 2010- U15 Girls Team Camp - 4 BC Players invited
Aug 20th 2010 U17 Girls Roster for U17 WCup - 4 BC Players
Oct 20th 2010 U15 Boys Team Camp - 1 BC Player invited
Oct 20th 2010 U 17 Boys Team Camp- 1 BC Player invited
Oct 27th 2010 Women's World Cup Team - final Roster for CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying- 4 BC players
Nov 5th 2010 Men's U23 Team Camp - 0 BC players invited
More statistics:14 BC players out of a total of 130 players invited, or just over 10% representation.
If you combine the entire 11 rosters, out of 213 players invited BC had 20 players represented. This is 9.38 % of total team camp make up. What is even more striking is if we remove the female camps our representation falls to 4%. Now what does this mean?
2008 CSA demographics by Province (most recent numbers on CSA website I can find)
Ontario - 43% of all players in Canada
Quebec - 21 % of all players in Canada
BC -14 % of all players in Canada
Alberta - 10 % of all players in Canada
Without boring you with too many more numbers, Ontario's and Quebec's National team representation at these camps were several points above their demographic while Alberta was at 8% two points below their overall demographic.
If one was to dig further back into these numbers there has been an alarming trend since around 2004 where the BC representation has decreased somewhat incrementally. If you looked back into the 1990's and 1980's when BC representation on these teams was sometimes as close to 50% you begin to wonder what has been happening from a development perspective here on the West Coast. With our history and ability to play year round it is difficult to believe that a Province such as Manitoba has placed more players in some of these national camps than BC recently.
Who's to blame for this?
Certainly, I think all of us involved in player development in this Province need to assume some responsibility for this. Lets look at it another way. Unfortunately the CSA archives were not able to provide me with as much detail on this as I would have liked, but I looked at Provincial All Star Championships over the last 10 years at all levels and genders.
Sadly, BC has only won a gold medal in these environments 2 times in the last decade (again based on the info I can find). In 10 years there have been what amounts to 40 events at this level. By demographic numbers, BC should place 3rd on a regular basis at these tournaments and that has not been achieved. Frankly, we are not even close.
I think all of the people who make their livings coaching youth players in this Province have to ask some very hard questions of themselves and look in the mirror and clearly come to the conclusion that what we are doing is not working. The leadership in the game in this Province, both the BCSA and more recently the Vancouver Whitecaps have to re-evaluate the overall plan and provide us with some new direction as what is occurring at present is not acceptable.
Coincidentally, the trend in the decreasing amount of BC player representation in our national team programs somewhat coincided with the development partnership union between a certain professional soccer team and our Provincial body. Our leaders need to be better, or we need to find alternatives.