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Ontario Soccer’s Player Development Program has announced that Niagara Falls SC will join the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) for 2021 and 2022.
After a comprehensive review process that started in 2019, the Board of Directors of Ontario Soccer recently approved the Niagara Falls SC OPDL application.
They will join 29 other license holders in Ontario, made up of Clubs and Academies, from around the province, which support the advancement of athletes along Ontario Soccer’s Talented Pathway.
OPDL represents a young players' early graduation to a genuine high performance training environment, targeting the top athletes in the province, with what is the highest level of youth competitive soccer in Ontario. Unlike other leagues, the OPDL operates more as a high performance training program than merely a league.
“Niagara Falls SC is a well-established soccer organization operating out of the Niagara Soccer District. For over 60 years, the club has served the community, operating grassroots and competitive programs and is now expanding its reach into high performance training,” said Johnny Misley, Chief Executive Officer of Ontario Soccer. “Establishing the OPDL program in Niagara Falls will galvanize soccer in the region and help enhance avenues for talent identification in the Province, as well as provide another step for athletes, coaches and match officials along the Talented Pathway.”
In support to their OPDL application, Niagara Falls SC has formed formal affiliations with Lincoln SC, Fort Erie SC, Niagara-on-the-Lake SC and the St. Catherines Jets to support the OPDL program in the region.
In addition to formal affiliations, Niagara Falls SC has also established a working relationship with Welland SC and Niagara Falls United, the other two largest clubs in the District. Together they have aligned programming for the development of grassroots players.
“An OPDL License in Niagara Falls represents the consolidation of the program in another key area of the Province,” said Gabriel Assis, Ontario Soccer Senior Manager, Player Development. “This ensures that we continue to meet the objectives of talent identification, development and advancement across Ontario.”
Launched in 2014 with the 2001 age group, the OPDL is the province's premier standards-based, youth high performance program and league that combines top level competition with strict high performance training standards. This innovative high performance program is an important component of the overall movement to adopt the core principles of Long Term Player Development (LTPD) across soccer at large in Ontario and Canada.
In 2019, 80 per cent of Ontario’s male Provincial Teams were made up of OPDL players. Additionally, 80 per cent of that year’s new intake to Toronto FC Academy were from the OPDL.
On the female side in 2019, over 93 per cent of Provincial Players identified were originally from OPDL organizations. Within the Canada Soccer Regional Excel program, over 94 per cent of participants were made up of OPDL players.
There were 149 OPDL teams in 2019 and over 2,300 players. Since 2014, the OPDL Athlete Scholarship Program has made $461,000 available to players who have demonstrated a commitment to development and have great technical potential, to ensure that OPDL is more affordable for as many families as possible.
Visit Opdl.ca for more information.