May 5, 2011 CSL--CSL Pre-season Press Conference (by Rocket Robin)

Details of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) Pre-season Press Conference held
on Thursday May 5, 2011 at the Rogers Room at BMO Field in Toronto at

The meeting was called to order at 12:15pm by CSL Director of Media and PR Stan Adamson.  The head table consisted of Tony Taylor (now technical director 
of Burlington Youth soccer), Pino Jazbec (CSL League Administrator), Vince Ursini (CSL Chairman), Michael Krog (from Locust company), Eric Barber (Real 
Star Hospitality), and Willie Jong (supervising producer with Rogers TV).

Adamson started with going through the structure of Canadian Soccer starting with the top level MLS, through NASL, and to the third tier CSL.  He said 
FIFA is pressing Canada to have a top flight Canadian league. Canada needs to have pro soccer for youth to be able to stay in Canada rather than have 
to go overseas.  There are 850,000 registered players in Canada and another 200,000 that are non-registered.  There's been an investment in player 
development with the TFCA Academy going to have a facility constructed in Downsview.  The league will be adding another dimension of skills training 
which will be announced soon. 

He then introduced the head table.

Pino Jazbec talked about the league schedule.  There are 14 teams in the First Division and 14 teams in the Second Division (most of those teams are 
the reserve teams of the first division with a few exceptions).  The first game is tomorrow and the regular season runs until the first week of October.  
Eight teams will make the playoffs for a home and away quarterfinal and then a one game semi-final and one game final.  The player standard is expected 
to get better this season.  The Second Division is split into two seven team conferences.  The 'East' teams mostly will play at the St Joan of Arc field 
in Maple.  

Adamson was back to introduce some officials from (new teams) Mississauga Eagles,  Capital City (from Ottawa), and Windsor Stars (actually back in the 
league after a few years absence) plus new teams only operating in the Second Division for this year: Niagara United (with last year's St Catharines 
head coach James McGillivray), KW United FC (from Kitchener-Waterloo), not mentioned was Soccer Prospect Academy (from Kingston).  All these teams may 
may move up by adding First Division teams next season.  Portugal FC has changed their name to SC Toronto because of a merger with their youth connection 
with Toronto Eagles.   Not mentioned was Brampton Lions have been renamed Brampton City United with new ownership although team official Phil Ionadi was 
here today to say hello to me.

Next up was Willy Jong from Rogers TV.  He said televising the CSL games started in Toronto but has been expanded to other cities.  Toronto, London, 
Brantford, Mississauga, and Ottawa this year.  It will be their busiest schedule ever with 70 regular season games being broadcast.  The Rogers community 
channel has a  mandate to provide local programming.  The league and their broadcasts provide a medium to show emerging players.  They welcome Ottawa and 
Mississauga because there will be immediate broadcasting in their cities.  

Adamson then mentions here today is photographer Boris Spremo (Order of Canada) who has taken pictures for decades and was last week on assignment 
in London England at the Royal Wedding.

Adamson introduced the TFC Academy coaching staff who were in attendance.  Stuart Neely, Danny Dichio and Jim Brennan.

Adamson then introduced Tony Taylor who he said was the youngest player to sign a pro contract in the UK and is now probably the #1 specialist and adviser 
in youth soccer.   Taylor himself came up to the microphone to talk for awhile.  He has been in Canada since 1980 and played in those first two years for 
the NSL in probably their two last good years.  He said he did sign at age 16 (with Crystal Palace) which was probably too young back then.  There was 
no coaching and the older star players would just smack the heads of the young guys if they didn't pass the ball to them!  He came in 1980 to start 
a new Canadian league that never succeeded.  He then coached the Canadian Under 20 team that qualified for the 1985 World Cup and credited the Canadian 
Soccer League (a previous league of the 1980s early 90s) with supplying players.  He believed that league failed because they expanded too fast coast 
to coast.  

Taylor provided his reasoning why until now 1 million Canadian players (50% are male) have not
been successful on the (male) world stage.
--Canada is unique—too cold, vast geography makes travelling difficult.  The climate makes a five month season about as much as they can play for.  
This Spring (in southern Ontario) has been real Scottish weather in that it rains every day.  He remembers playing in a game for Panhellanic 
at Lamport Stadium when he first got here where the game started in 18o weather but it dropped to zero before the game was over and the field froze.
--there is no professional league and that provides no 'dream' for young players to strive for.
--our culture...Hockey is the major sport that kids want to play but there is also basketball, baseball
etc.  This causes a competition of facilities, funding and the media's attention.  
--ownership--the governing bodies need leaders to draw up a plan to suit Canada or else we will always struggle.  
Today he works with under 7s as he says it's important to develop players early.
He said Canadians can compete with anyone in the world until the Under 11s then the skills fall off.
He said he was impressed with today's League schedule and their commitment to player development.  

Adamson said the CSL has expanded the last few years to a six month schedule.  The playoffs are scheduled to end the first week of November.  The league 
now relies on fields with artificial turf and the good weather we've been having in October for extending the season.  

Adamson then introduced Eric Barber of RealStar Hospitality who run the Days Inn hotel chain.  He said the partnership continues as a sponsor for the league.  They are looking for times to expand in the non-hockey season.  

Adamson then introduced Vince Ursini the new chair of the CSL.  He was the chair of the previous league the CPSL since 1998 moving up from treasurer 
to chairman.  (Previous Chairman Domenic Di Gironimo resigned in December 2010).  He said Ursini had been a director of the Canadian Soccer Association 
and helped work to finance and build the Ontario Soccer Centre.    

Ursini came up to the microphone and said he was happy to be back.  He enjoyed his time as a learning experience.  He worked in the CPSL for six or seven 
years.  People don't understand the challenges of running the league.  The strong and the struggling teams.  The pro owners make so many demands on the 
league because it's their money that's on the table.  

Ursini gave the reasons for why he came back.  He now has the good fortune to have good     administrators no running the league to look after day to day 
operations like reffing, schedules, and dealing with the media and he can concentrate on his goal of making the CSL a national league.  He is impressed 
with the high level of play.  He's convincing people to 'see' these games on television to prove his point.  It's providing training and competition 
for young players as a local league for now.  The key is to develop players and with that coaches and referees.  He's communicating to outsiders the level 
of play is high as in so many players have moved on to bigger leagues after playing here.  This league will be a key to developing national team players.  
Most of the amateur organizations don't 'know' the pro league and that is frustrating.  Now the CSA is keenly interested in developing a national league.  

Ursini said there's also been a demand for a woman’s league.  The CPSL had a woman’s league but the
CSA had no problem allowing W-League teams to operate in Ontario to undermine it.  It needs the proper authorization.  The league would be ready to operate 
in 2012.  The pro teams don't make money, it's owners funding the teams not the dependance on the negligible live gate.  People want to invest to
develop the highest level of development.   

Ursini said there's now more than enough teams clamouring to get in to the league and there's enough local representation.  They're getting close to the 
local limit for teams and now it's time to make a national league.  The development is a win/win for players.  Also coaching can move up to higher levels 
after training and learning their craft at the CSL level.  

Adamson saluted Tony Comacho (former FIFA referee) as director for officiating.  

He reminded us that there were four games this opening weekend and then ended the meeting at 1:15pm.  Right over in exactly one hour.  It was time to enjoy 
the lunch and leave.

I ask some questions first with Willy Jong from Rogers.  The opening game tomorrow won't be shown live because of their commitment to broadcast the 
St Michael's Majors hockey playoff game.  They wouldn't have known weeks ago that the team would still be playing.  The CSL TFC Academy vs Montreal 
Impact Academy game will be broadcast Saturday night at 8:00pm.  Viewership will be light as I expect fans will be watching the MLS Toronto FC 
vs Houston.  Hmm maybe not everyone gets GOL TV so maybe there will be those watching Rogers Community channel after all.  Although there are 70 games 
scheduled for broadcast (although I counted 69 and only 22 for Toronto Rogers) I asked about the possibility of seeing any out of town games.  There was 
no Sportspac every-game package of these games last year—it was never set up because there were too many other sports to broadcast.  I advise checking 
local listings because I remember seeing a North York Astros AWAY game against London a day or so later to fill in programming.  Maybe on a message board 
there could be some tape trading or posting.

The TFC Academy guys had left before I could get over to ask them anything but I'm sure I'll see them at games as the season goes on.

Michael Krog from Locust company answered me that their company has the contract to supply the soccer balls and goalie gloves but not the uniforms which 
are still from Givova.  

I mentioned to Eric Barber from the Days Inn hotels that teams are still cramming in two games in two successive days to save money but he could sympathize 
with their desire to save money.  

I thanked chief of referee's Tony Comacho for the friendly welcome I get when I ask to write down the team rosters if there's no copies in the press box.  
I also compared how easy it was to make corrections to a web page as opposed to a newspaper.  The Toronto Star kept mentioning the FC Edmonton goalie last 
night as Jaswinder Gill even though we heard announced in the stadium that it was Lance Parker.  I had sent an e-mail to the NASL web site when their 
story said in the first Edmonton-Toronto game last week that Oscar Cordon had scored the second goal where television replays showed it was Alan Gordon.  
Within hours I received a thank you and the league site was corrected—although the Edmonton team site hasn't been as of yesterday.  I've certainly made 
corrections on my site as recently as the TFC-Columbus Reserves game when I captioned a photo based on the player's hair colour although he wasn't on the 
field for that game.  

Looking over the league schedule fans in Kingston won't be able to rush out to see their local team because all (19) of the Soccer Prospect Academy games 
will be held at St Joan of Arc field in Maple (north of Toronto).   They have it rough because they often play two games in a day with only two hours 
in between—I suppose relying on a large roster or teenage energy to carry them through.  KW United will at least have Centennial Stadium (the one 
in Kitchener) and sometimes Budd Park to play in and Niagara United FC will play at Kalar.   

A first weekend story in the media package listed a partial roster for Mississauga Eagles FC.  Their goalies are listed as Melford James Jr and 
Scott Cliff.  Last year these guys played for Hamilton Croatia and Milltown FC respectively.  Those are the only two teams NOT returning to the CSL 
this year.  Wow those were arguably the best goalies in the league last year.  

Rocket Robin 

from left to right...Tony Taylor, Pino Jazbek, Vince Ursini, Micael Krog, and Eric Barber

from left to right...Willie Jong and Stan Adamson

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