Soccer in Canada has grown rapidly over the last couple of years, in part due to the Long Term Player Development (LTPD) program, which supports young soccer players in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, one in five children in Canada now plays soccer.
LTPD, also known as Advanced Development Academy (ADA), is a model of athlete development in Canada.
The program gives all players the best chance of success in soccer by tailoring training, competition, and coaching to their specific needs at the appropriate stage of development. For example, it encourages players to play at higher levels to boost competitiveness.
Jens Kraemer is a coach in Whitby who has coached for 32 years. He played soccer in Canada and in Germany for many years. Kraemer also coached soccer during his time as a high school teacher, as well as other sports such as basketball and volleyball.
Kraemer now coaches the U-21 men’s Whitby team and is part of the Whitby FC technical team. He said LTPD benefits young soccer players.
“LTPD reinforces the streaming at this moment of time so that youngsters can play in attainable environments,” said Kraemer.
He also believes there are many benefits of the LTPD program, including a stronger structure for player development and more opportunity for players to realize their athletic potential.
The program is focused on soccer player development based on ‘biological’ age, a player’s physical maturity, rather than chronological age. LTPD is player centered with the goal of producing elite athletes.
The start of the FC Durham Academy a few years ago in Oshawa has also helped the development of soccer in the region. This academy helps teenagers get opportunities to play soccer for universities.
Though there are benefits that come from the LTPD, nothing is perfect. Kraemer says the structure in Ontario needs to be more consistent, and coaches need to better follow the program.
To inspire young soccer players in Durham and the rest of Canada, players can also now seek to play at the highest level of Canadian soccer in the newly formed Canadian Premier League, which begins in 2018. Young players may also look for inspiration within the success of Toronto FC in the last two years.
The Canadian Premier League is focused on giving young Canadian soccer players the opportunity to showcase their skill at a top level, and could see players get into the player pool for the Canadian national team. The league will start with around six to eight teams, but is expected to grow in the future. This new league will include a team in Hamilton, and possibly in Ottawa.
Toronto FC has been successful recently. Making it to MLS Cup final last season was the biggest accomplishment in the club’s franchise, and the publicity of the club’s run has sparked a new motivation for youngsters in the GTA.
Kraemer believes young people now have a better chance to play soccer at the best level.
“There’s more opportunities for youth now than there’s ever been and there’s more opportunities to become a professional now than there’s ever been.”