Soccer Academy: Fixing Canadian soccer, a signature at a time
North Van’s Will Cromack starting a grassroots campaign to get the country’s program back on track
With an ongoing absence in the World Cup and an embarrassingly low world ranking, North Vancouver soccer coach Will Cromack is taking it upon himself to “fix Canadian soccer.”
“At 118th in the world — with all the facilities, money and people we have — it’s embarrassing,” said Cromack. “We deserve better.”
But he believes a fix is only possible if a voice is given to the little guy — those “outside the box of soccer,” meaning governing bodies like the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and B.C. Soccer, so he’s developed a petition for anyone — from soccer fans, to aspiring new players, professional players, parents or coaches — to sign, ultimately asking the CSA to allow their voice be heard in the development process.
“(There’s) pockets of people all over Canada that want us to be better (but) have no place to go and no place to put their name and voice their concern,” said Cromack. “(I want to) put them all together under one unit, and I’m going to try and create an underground voice — a voice that allows the people to have a seat at the table, at the governing body.”
Cromack describes the petition, which can be found at notdownthemiddle.com, as a “movement of the people for the people.”
“If you just don’t know what to do and you’re frustrated in your own club and you know you could be better, if you’re frustrated as a Canadian and you don’t know the underbelly of why, put your name here,” he said. “People are unhappy and they’re frustrated; I’m saying, ‘Here you go.’”
Since the petition launched three weeks ago he’s garnered more than 1,000 signatures and is aiming for about 10,000 before he takes it to the CSA.
“I want them to know that people aren’t happy and they’ve got to change,” he said. “You have to have a voice and in some way (these) people are left out of the equation.”
He believes allowing more people to enter the discussion will provide “a whole bunch of different solutions” that could help give Canadian soccer the push it needs.
“Change can at least be discussed in a more equitable manner — not a power play where one person is holding all the power,” he said. “Instead of fighting about what should be done, we’ll have a voice ... to lead for a better future of soccer.”
As the petition collects more and more signatures, Cromack has already developed his own suggestions to better Canadian soccer, and like many others, he believes it needs to start at the grassroots level.
Some of his suggestions include giving the CSA full charge of Canadian soccer, as opposed to the ruling provincial associations, so that the same principles are followed from province to province.
He’d also like to see “every dime that we get” go towards coach education, certifying as many coaches as possible so they can “impart knowledge to hundreds of kids.” And he’d also like the development of a better cross-Canada curriculum that gives “guidance for why you’re doing stuff at a certain age group — psychologically, physically, spiritually” and goes beyond the current longterm player development model by actually providing lesson plans and drills — much like a grade school teacher’s curriculum. And finally, he’d like to see the inclusion of free enterprises (private academies) and the creation of a Canadian development league.
But the petition goes beyond Cromack’s suggestions and is open to any and all ideas, so “the public who don’t have a regular vote have a voice at the table with the CSA,” he said.
“Soccer is a language around the world and we need to be a voice in that world, competing with a chance to make it to the World Cup.”
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