The Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) has long stood as the optimal environment for our budding soccer stars, however, the path to excellence is often riddled with financial barriers. This year, the OPDL Athlete Scholarship Program will help change the game by distributing nearly $100,000 among 127 deserving awardees, ensuring that no talent goes unnoticed due to financial constraints.
Participation in the OPDL has many proven benefits for young soccer talents. The league offers strict high-performance training standards, top level competition, and opens doors for future opportunities in The Beautiful Game. OPDL products often receive Provincial and National Team callups, recruitments from Universities and Colleges, with many going on to have professional soccer careers.
In an effort to lower barriers to participation in the OPDL, Ontario Soccer established the Athlete Scholarship Program in 2014. Since then, more than $700,000 in grants have been distributed to hardworking athletes and their families to help offset the cost of joining the program.
Scholarships range from $500 to $1,500, which families can use towards program fees. This lifeline not only fuels the dreams of young athletes but also helps them pursue their passion for soccer at the highest level.
To be considered for the Athlete Scholarship Program, applicants have to meet a series of eligibility requirements. Candidates are evaluated on criteria such as community leadership, Club support, dedication to the sport, technical development potential, as well as their financial and situational circumstances. This criteria aims to prove the commitment of the player and family as a whole within the Talented Pathway, as well as foster players that are well-rounded athletes contributing to their community,
The application window is open until two weeks into the season, which typically begins in April. OPDL License Holders must apply on behalf of the interested families. There is no limit to the number of athletes a Club can put forward for the funding. If selected for a scholarship, the athlete’s funds are sent to the License Holder, who then passes it along to the recipient and their family.
A note for Clubs: to be an OPDL License Holder, you must also have your own support funds available to families.
Ontario Soccer is continuously seeking opportunities to increase the amount and capacity of the Athlete Scholarship Program, as well as other equity-focused initiatives. As an organization, we constantly strive to be more inclusive and accessible in our programming, making Ontario Soccer a place where Everyone is Welcome.
For more information about the Athlete Scholarship Program or the OPDL in general, check out our recent OPDL 8-year review, the OPDL Parent Handbook, and visit the Athlete Scholarship Program webpage.