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President’s Message: Continuing to build our game

In 2016, every major sports organization in Canada faced challenges and we were no different. The OSA worked through these challenges by always focusing on doing what is in the best interests of the sport as a whole—and the players.

The OSA strived this past year to be more responsive to our members while building partnerships and creating relationship opportunities for all those who want to be part of the beautiful game. We are all very proud of the work done by our Districts, Clubs, Academies and Leagues, large and small, in every corner of the province. Whether at the grassroots level, in our competitive leagues or our standards-based Ontario Player Development League and League1 Ontario, progress is evident—and ongoing.

I want to thank our countless volunteers who are involved in every level of the game. Just as grassroots soccer is and will always be the foundation of our game, our volunteers have always been and will always be the backbone of The OSA.

With the launch of the new Strategic Plan (2016-2018) we are now moving towards an alignment with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) for the benefit of players, coaches, administrators and match officials. The four key organizational “pillars” in our Strategic Plan are: Organizational Stability, Long Term Player Development, Membership Engagement and Partnership Building. Along with our strategic pillars, respect and integrity will remain the cornerstone values of the organization. The Association aims to be player-centered in every decision and initiative that we undertake.

With these key pillars and values as our guide, the OSA Board of Directors has devoted much of the past three years to the process of modernizing our governance structure. As a result of this dedication and commitment, we are now positioned to launch a smaller, skills-based Board (non-representational) that will focus on policy and strategic planning, thus better enabling staff to do their job more effectively on the operations side. We are moving toward to the implementation of a newly structured Board effective June 2017.

Going forward, the OSA will continue to lead the way in ensuring that we unify our player development pathway in order to provide growth opportunities for players, coaches and match officials from the grassroots all the way to the most competitive levels. You will see an even stronger emphasis in 2017 on Coaching and Match official training and educational opportunities. In this vein, the Ontario Soccer Summit 2017 and the National Soccer Coaching Conference, scheduled for early 2017, are two more opportunities for individual growth and development in our sport. In addition, we must expand the development of Futsal through Match Official and Coach training as the official indoor game of FIFA grows in Ontario and across our country.

Included within our player centric pathway is the rollout of our Respect in Sport – Activity Leader and Parent programs. Although there has been some push back with regard to these online programs by our coaches and parents, it is imperative as soccer leaders that we step back and take a thorough look at our soccer environment within the province of Ontario. We can all seek to do better in terms of how we treat our athletes and match officials and respond to their needs and expectations. These programs are designed to highlight and profile how our athletes and match officials can be adversely affected and impacted by the actions of parents and leaders within our game. Having personally taken these two important online courses it is evident to me more needs to be done by each of us in protecting and enhancing the athletes’ sporting environment. Everyone needs to get on board, lead by example, take the courses, and implement the philosophies and elements of pro-active positive reinforcement of our athletes and match officials.

I look forward to us all working collaboratively in 2017 to further unite soccer in Ontario. Together, we can collectively build on the strong foundation established by volunteers and staff as we continue to strive for excellence in everything we do.

Yours,

Ron Smale, Ontario Soccer Association President

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