Canadian Soccer Association Flikr
If you have any interest in the future of the game in Canada then the findings from the Easton Report that were published in "In A League of our Own" is something you should take the time to read.
Most people who follow the game of soccer in Canada have heard the talk surrounding the Easton Report that the CSA commissioned back in late 2011. The study was intended to take a look into the viability of division II soccer in Canada and find a way to move the sport forward.
The CSA has now published some of the findings from that study by Rethink Management group in a 32 page document entitled "In A League of Our Own". The document, which is available on the CSA website, gives fans an easy read version of what was found after years of work that included talking to many of the people who take an active interest in the game in Canada. There is even a good chance that some of the people reading this (or the one writing it) took the time to complete a survey that formed part of the study.
The key take-away from the published report is the recommendation that Canada would be better served to pursue a regional semi-professional development-focused league. Such a league would exist at a division III level after the study determined that a division II model would not be viable in Canada at this point in time. A regional development league would allow players aged 18-23 to compete at a high level and against meaningful competition which is something that is currently lacking in Canada. The league would be based in Canada's largest soccer markets but would allow for each region to develop its own unique identities rather than trying to impose uniformity across the country.
The proposed league would hold each team across the country to the division III standard that is laid out by the CSA and in that regard would take a similar form to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) which governs three separate leagues across Canada but allows them to keep some elements that are unique to their own specific region. It was a model that was born out of necessity for hockey but has proven to be very successful in developing elite level talent since its inception.
For Toronto FC the good news it that such a league would become a very good place for the highest level of the academy program to compete and would provide a much better transition to the professional level than the CSL ever did. The club would have their 18-23 year old players compete in the league and that would give them more time to evaluate a player before bringing them into the first team which would be a huge help in the long term development of the academy.
The report alone is not going to be enough to turn Canada into a soccer power overnight but it is a start and will hopefully lead to the important conversations that need to continue to happen in the coming months and years to ensure that the study is not a waste.
So now get reading and let us know what you think of the findings. It is a nice easy ready so don't worry about getting overwhelmed.