VSC and OPDL: Improving Youth Soccer in Ontario one player at a time

What is OPDL?

According to their website, “The Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) is the province’s first standards-based, youth high performance league that combines top level competition with strict high performance training standards. This exciting new youth 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 2015, OPDL will include the 2001 (U14) and 2002 (U13) age groups.”

How We Got Started

The Vaughan Soccer Club (VSC) received our OPDL license in 2014. In our inaugural year with the league two 2001 teams were formed; one girls and one boys. It took a lot of work from our board of directors and office staff to put together a report proving to the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) that we as a club deserved to be part of this new league. “In order to participate, clubs must apply for a license and meet strict criteria that show themselves to be worthy of training and developing the province’s best.”

The main reason why the club wanted to get our OPDL license? OPDL is seen as an opportunity to be involved in a high performance program. The program is unique in that it is the first standard based league of its kind. It allows coaches and trainers to work with the top youth players in the VSC.

The Trainers and Coaches

This league would not be where it is today if it weren’t for the talented and dedicated coaches and trainers that run the program. Carmine Isacco, head Technical Director and Serge DeLuca, OPDL Director, along with trainers and coaches Jorden Feliciano, Vlad Karpenko, Boris Krimus and Vince Calabria run all teams in both age groups.

DeLuca explains, “Every season that passes I’ve matured and gotten better as a coach. Our schedule allows me to improve with every training session and game.

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The Teams and Players

With 4 days of training plus 1 game per week and a season that lasts 11 months out of the year, OPDL players understand the amount of work and dedication it takes to be in this league. Improving with each passing week they work towards achieving their goals. “OPDL teams have a base level of training intensity and rigour akin to professional soccer environments that mean their players not only compete against the best, but train like the best.”

Improvements in players can be seen in ability, technique, tactic and physical strength. The players in the 2001 age group have matured exceptionally over the span of only one year making a big difference in their style of game play.

DeLuca believes that collaboration with the VSC has been essential in his players’ success in OPDL. “VSC is one of the leading developers of players in the region. These players have shown results on and off the field. Playing in OPDL provides a jumping off point for players to advance to professional soccer and is the first stepping stone in further improvement. This goes in line with what coaches and trainers are trying to achieve, getting athletes at the top level to reach their goal of moving towards higher levels of soccer and professional play.”

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Working towards the future

The Vaughan Soccer Club hopes to add more players to OPDL as players join our competitive division. We will seek out players that have the potential to play at an even higher level of soccer.

Coaches, trainers and VSC as a whole would recommend OPDL because it is ultimately the highest level of soccer for youth in Ontario. DeLuca believes, “It gives youth the opportunity to play against the best players in the province while training to game ratios allow for extra practice for players to hone their skills. OPDL provides an environment for the player to build and develop in all aspects of the game.”

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