The Ontario Player Development League is a province-wide, standards based, high performance league. The OPDL is the highest level of play for youth soccer in Ontario and encompasses 21 of the best soccer clubs in the province that have all maintained the Ontario Soccer Gold Club Excellence standard. The OPDL replaced the Ontario Youth Soccer League (OYSL) as the highest level youth soccer league in the province in 2014.
No part of any CYS recreational or competitive program fee will be put toward OPDL expenses. As part of the application process for OPDL, CYS had to submit a budget for the program for the 2018 and 2019 seasons to be approved by Ontario Soccer.
The OPDL teams will have their own set of audited financial statements. All expenses associated with the OPDL will be fully financed by the players fees collected for the program. Sponsorship revenue will also be collected by the club, exclusively for OPDL program expenses.
The application for OPDL status is extremely rigorous. Clubs must pass a four-stage application process which includes two different site visits by representatives from the league. Clubs must meet stringent Technical program guidelines, with special focus on their adherence to the Long Term Player Development initiative. Additionally, clubs must meet a set of financial, human resources, and facilities objectives before being offered a franchise. All OPDL licence holders must also possess the Ontario Soccer Club Excellence Gold status, which has been achieved by CYS for 2014-16 and again from 2016-18.
The open trial phase of the program would be set for September 2017 for all new OPDL licence holders. Teams will train in an academy environment until mid-January. The OPDL mandated periodized training will commence in mid-January. League play will begin in May and continue through October.
CYS will be placing one U13 Boys and one U13 Girls team (born 2005) into the OPDL for the 2018 season. The club has the option in 2019 to run both a U13 (born 2006) and U14 (born 2005) program for the OPDL. Licence holders who have been with the OPDL since the beginning of the league will feature teams up to U17 in 2018.
Although CYS will now have a U13 Boys and U13 Girls team in the OPDL, the club will continue to have one placement for boys and one for girls at Regional Level (WRSL). The club will also continue to operate a team for both boys and girls at the District Level (SWDSL).
Players on the WRSL teams will have an opportunity to train with the OPDL team and may act as call up players to this team throughout the course of the season. Coaches and players alike will be able to benefit from the higher level of play and coaching that these teams will feature.
Unlike other Ontario Soccer-sanctioned youth leagues, there are no geographic boundaries for OPDL teams. All OPDL teams must abide by the OPDL’s Open Trial Policy. Therefore, the CYS residency rule would not apply to the OPDL teams.
As the OPDL operates an open trial policy, the club is unable to set aside spots exclusively for Cambridge residents and Cambridge United players. CYS players should expect to compete for positions on the teams with players from other clubs. Taking into consideration assessments of the technical skills of players currently within the Cambridge United program there are certainly players performing at the level expected of an OPDL participant.
Tryout dates will be published by CYS during the month of August. All players born in 2005 will be eligible to attend the tryouts. There will be a cost associated with the tryout phase of the program that will cover field time and coach expenses.
As per OPDL rules, a player must be given the opportunity to attend a minimum of three trials before a final decision is made on their status.
It is the club’s intention to have 4 to 5 tryout sessions for each U13 team.
Unlike other Cambridge United teams, the coaching staff for the OPDL team will be paid for their services. Salaries for the coaches will be set based on qualifications and consultation with other OPDL licence holders. As the OPDL teams will be operating their own set of financials, the coaching staff will be paid directly from player fee revenue.
OPDL teams are required to operate from January through to November. The OPDL pre-season will begin in mid-January and run through to early May. The summer season will consist of matches from May to October with a two-week summer break. All games will be played on weekends. There will be 5 commitments per week (1 fitness session, 3 field sessions and 1 game).
CYS provides soccer opportunities for athletes of every ability and commitment level.
The club will enter teams at the Regional (WRSL) and District Level (SWDSL) in the U13 category. Based on the number of players attending tryouts, an additional team may be added to the SWDSL level for U13.
All OPDL matches are played on Saturdays. Cambridge United home games will be played at Jacob Hespeler High School’s turf field during the first year of the program’s operation. We are working closely with the City of Cambridge to have changeroom/washroom facilities installed on-site at Jacob Hespeler High School which will benefit other CYS teams using that facility.
The OPDL will only stand to benefit players in the CYS competitive and recreational streams. Players in U13 at WRSL level will have the opportunity to train simultaneously with the OPDL team and act as call-up players for exhibition and league games. The club will see a migration of higher level coaches into the program at grassroots age groups who wish to work with players that aspire to be part of the program.
It is also hoped that OPDL coaches will be able to help run sessions with Cambridge United teams during breaks in the program. Cambridge United coaches will be invited to observe OPDL sessions throughout the season and incorporate what they’ve learned into their sessions.
Although the OPDL team will be training 4 times per week it will not effect the current Development program for Cambridge United teams. All Cambridge United teams will continue to have 8 indoor development sessions, 8 outdoor development sessions and school gym time during the season.
As practice and game facilities must meet a minimum standard for the OPDL, which is monitored by the league, we are working diligently with City of Cambridge staff to ensure these facilities are all kept at OPDL level. This will be a major benefit to other CYS players who will benefit from training and game facilities that meet OPDL standards.
CYS has set the cost of participating in the OPDL at $3,600 per player per season. Payments of $600 will be made 6 times during the season. Although this is a massive increase over the Cambridge United rep program fee, one must keep in mind that players are training 10 months of the year, 4 times per week and playing league games from May through November under the watchful eye of paid coaches, training staff, medical and nutrition staff.
Financial assistance is available through Ontario Soccer bursaries for a limited number of players in the program.