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Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2019
Sudbury Canadians out of USL for 2007
by Randy Pascal

This much is certain - the Sudbury Canadians will not be part of the United Soccer Leagues 2007 W-League play for the summer of 2007. Exactly how this came to pass seems to be the subject of interpretation. On Monday (April 23rd), the following press release was issued by the Canadians' organization:

Sudbury Canadians Withdraw From USL W League

The Sudbury Canadians have officially withdrawn from the W League in the summer of 2007. Instead the Club has opted to take some time off and examine a number of issues related to Northern Ontario's participation in the highest female soccer league on the continent.

The Canadians had begun to work with other southern Ontario Soccer Academies to bolster their Northern line up but a number of logistical issues regarding games and practices were the primary issues. Frank Malvaso, Club Head Coach, noted that the key question that needs to be addressed is the ability for Northern Ontario to reasonably compete in this international league.

"The vast majority of players in the W are NCAA players and national team players that have moved up through the ranks through elite youth leagues like the OYSL and Super Y. While we have some very good local players that have come through this route, the reality is that we do not have enough at this level and the key question is what we can do to develop this level of player."

The Club has also acknowledged that in order to be reasonably competitive in the W a significantly broader recruitment strategies would also need to be employed. “We know that most W League teams in Ontario draw from a large area and that the challenge we face is how to get players to come to Sudbury."

On this issue, the Canadians will be talking to other sports franchises in the North to see how this might be accomplished. "I think we have easily come to the conclusion that the North will have to step up their youth development efforts if they are to compete with southern clubs at any of the higher levels and this is the area that we will focus on”, said Malvaso.

While neither the USL nor the Canadians have made any firm futures commitments, the two parties have agreed to look at the various ways that may assist the Sudbury group to work their way back to the USL Leagues. "We see some opportunities in the future with the USL but the onus will be on us to come up with a solid plan especially for our youth players."

The Sudbury Canadians would like to thank all of the local players that participated in the W over the four years and encourage them to keep playing the world’s number one sport even if it just for fun. The Canadians would especially like to thank the 85 Canadians who earned the W league spot. These young ladies are graduating or are near graduation and will be headed into the next important of their life which will include even higher education or employment. We know that they will all do well.


However, a quick glance at the USL website appears to offer a slightly different turn of events that led to the Canadians absence for the upcoming season. Following is a direct statement from the USL website:

United Soccer Leagues announced today that the Sudbury Canadians have been removed from the 2007 W-League alignment and schedule and their franchise rights have been terminated effective immediately.

“It is unfortunate to have to make such a decision at this point in time,” said USL Executive Vice President and COO Tim Holt. “However, those partnerships forged to assist the club in meeting the standards for a W-League franchise this season have not materialized and the team is no longer in the necessary position to ensure fulfillment of its 2007 season commitment.”

The schedule for the Northern Division of the W-League will remain 12 games. All dates for home matches have been preserved within the schedule changes with two being replaced with exhibitions.


Editorial Comment: In fairness to Frank Malvaso and the Canadians group, it must absolutely be noted that the club's efforts towards attempting to raise the profile of women and girls soccer in the Sudbury area have proven extremely beneficial for a number of young athletes in the area.

The Sudbury Canadians have produced a number of female soccer players who have moved on to accept scholarships at NCAA colleges and/or universities and many others who have excelled at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level. A quick glance at the 2006 Laurentian Lady Vees roster reveals approximately ten players who have donned the Canadians colours at some time in their days of competitive soccer.

And Malvaso has remained actively involved long after his daughter suited up with the squad, a commendable dedication to the sport of women's soccer. The advent of the Canadians organization came at a time when little in the way of viable options existed for young ladies wishing to pursue a more competitive brand of soccer.

While the Canadians struggled in USL play almost since day one (the team's first ever game was an 8-1 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Lady Stallions), the fact that the roster was noticeably younger than every other opponent seemed to provide some light at the end of the tunnel.

But the challenges of fielding a full roster appeared to become more daunting through the summer of 2006 and towards the end of the year, the positive steps taken in 2005 appeared to give way to a regression of the program, with only 13 or 14 players suiting up on most occasions last summer, dealing with the effects of yet another lopsided loss.

A partnership struck this spring between the Soccer Academy Alliance Canada and the Sudbury Canadians appeared to breathe some life into the franchise, with hopes of a larger draw of talent pool available to try and attain a degree of respectability within the ranks of the USL.

As noted in both of the above releases, the best laid plans of this partnership were not able to overcome the challenges, both geographic and otherwise, of fielding a team centered out of two different locations. The comments that Malvaso makes above are by and large extremely valid.

They also echo what a good portion of the Sudbury soccer community has been saying for much of the past three years. There is nothing wrong with striving to provide the best possible competition for Northern athletes, as long as the gap that exists is not so drastic as to serve as a huge detriment in attempting to attract and maintain players within a program.

It is also admirable to aspire some day to play against the very best in the world. But reaching that goal requires that a number of small, progressive steps be taken along the way, such that when athletes ultimately compete against the best, that the program has an element of long-term sustainability to it.

The current roster of Canadians female youth soccer teams in the city includes an impressive collection of talent quite capable of certainly competing against some of Ontario's best. Here's hoping that the lessons learned along the road travelled by the pioneers that formed the Sudbury Canadians USL entry provide a framework for the continued betterment of local girls soccer.

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