First and foremost it's important to understand that players develop at different paces. The way the current setup is, the players selected at a younger age to play rep soccer, often are selected because they are better athletes i.e. they may be bigger, faster than their peers, without their actual skills at the time being taken into consideration. Those that aren't chosen early but still have the aspiration to reach that rep level are forced to train themselves in order to get there. These players should not be neglected because as they seek to improve themselves they gain a fresh perspective and skill set those players picked early may not develop. And if they prove themselves able to compete with those already playing competitively, they would also prove to have the mindset to succeed and with hard work and a little training can become good players. Also, it's important that we keep costs down and make it possible for everyone to play competitively not just those that can afford to pay thousands to send their kids to the best academies. So, the LTPD program being proposed for Canada must actively seek to include any players that show the potential - controversially I might add right up to the age of 22 - and the determination to succeed in soccer, at the competitive level.
This brings me to the next problem for any player to develop, the right environment needs to be in place. I have had the experience on being on Rep teams where some players chose not to come to practices and games, ending with the coaches giving up feeling frustrated, and in other circumstance Rep teams where the coaches don’t understand the game as well as they should - I have been yelled at by coaches to run at a player and commit to the tackle when really all the opposing player would to have to do is push the ball to the side to get past me - or even some with no real tactical awareness on how a team should effectively contain or attack opponents. Even worse is when coaches choose players that don’t have the technical skills required to play the level and these players don’t make a strong enough effort to improve. Sometimes this left me with the feeling that Rep soccer is nothing more than a glorified house league system. There needs to be a review of how teams are picked and how coaches are chosen in order to further the skills of those that actually want to improve.
Next, the CSA needs to push for the proper infrastructure today. There are many players out there willing and capable of playing competitively. There needs to exist, a proper tiered system for these players to play in to develop their skills and to be provided with an opportunity to play at the semi-pro and pro levels, a stepping stone to the pro game. If these existed today, the state of soccer would be very different. The MLS and NASL are important, but the D3 league as suggested by the Easton report and provincial leagues D4 similar to the concept of Ontario League 1 - above pre-existing D5 league such as the OSL - in every province will do well toward providing that infrastructure. But this needs to be done today, now and fully implemented within the next 5 years, for the country to even dream of the World Cup within the next 10 years. The OSA moved toward implementing the Ontario League 1 in 2011, as of 2013 this league still hasn’t started play, while one can only hope this will not be the case with the D3 league, we can’t afford waiting around anymore. We must act now.