TORONTO — On a day when the Canadian Soccer Association unveiled its 2019-21 strategic plan with slick videos and speeches, Canada men’s coach John Herdman got straight to the point.
World Cup, here we come. And not just the 2026 men’s tournament that Canada is co-hosting with Mexico and the U.S.
“We’re going to qualify for 2022 Qatar,” Herdman told a news conference Monday at BMO Field. “And lay the foundation for 2026.”
Given Canada has only ever qualified for the 1986 men’s World Cup, the silver-tongued Englishman might as well have dropped the microphone right there and then and walked off.
The new strategic plan, subtitled Canada Soccer Nation, is supposed to help get him there.
The document itself is pithy, although a supporting website is to come.
A short welcome from Canada Soccer’s president and general secretary is followed by nine triangles encompassing stake-holders (players, clubs, coaches) plus talking points (performance, participation, collaboration) and buzzwords (align, stabilize, innovate).
The CSA says it surveyed 3,000 Canadians as well as its clubs and provincial partners in coming up with the plan, as well as surveying similar plans in other countries.
For CSA president Steven Reed, Monday was another chance to tout the million-plus Canadians who play soccer. He said in touring the globe to sell the so-called united World Cup bid, people were “flabbergasted” at the numbers.
“They all think that hockey is our main sport. Well it’s not. I mean you see it on TV a lot, but soccer is really the primary sport in our country and we want to continue to make it that way and grow it,” Reed said.
The previous strategic plan, issued in early 2014 under the title Leading a Soccer Nation, was almost as pithy. The document was divided into four goals with 27 sub-points.
The CSA can point to a job well done in hosting a successful Women’s World Cup in 2015, bringing the men’s World Cup to Canada as well as well as forming a domestic pro league — with the Canadian Premier League poised to kick off in April.
For Herdman, the new plan is about clarity.
“I think the World Cup 2026 has brought an acute focus for this organization to do sort of everything in its power to ensure that Canada can compete at that World Cup,” he said.
For Canadian women’s coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller, the blueprint is about developing players and coaches for the future.
For CSA director of development Jason deVos, …read more