By Ottawa Sportspage, for Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
It wasn’t quite like hoisting a big trophy after the championship-winning goal, but Ottawa TFC Soccer Club nonetheless scored a major triumph off the field when it was chosen as one of only 39 clubs across the country to receive Canada Soccer’s new National Youth Club Licence.
“It’s really an extraordinary achievement for our club,” says Ottawa TFC Club President Terry Vida, noting many licencees have double the members of OTFC’s 3,000. “This puts us at the highest level of professionalism for youth soccer in Canada, and it just opens the doors for kids.
“If I was 7, 8 or 9 years old, man, I would be so excited to be in soccer at this time. It really is a fabulous pathway for kids, and it’s so crystal clear with our club. Every possible door is open for kids who want to play, right from recreational up all the way to the most elite levels.
“I think that’s why we worked so hard to make this one happen.”
Much like on the pitch, teamwork was a big key to success in helping OTFC achieve the stringent standards necessary to earn a National Youth Licence. Many, many staff, coaches, volunteers and members contributed to the latest milestone achievement in the club’s journey.
“It’s such an honour to work with this group of people,” Vida underlines. “There is such a passion there to be the best we can be at everything we embark on.”
Top-quality governance, administration, infrastructure and technical prowess were required to achieve the highest amateur youth club designation in the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program. That includes items like having governance manuals for the board of directors, and ensuring the proper policies are in place so children have a healthy and safe environment to play in.
“It has pushed us to an even higher level of professionalism,” Vida summarizes.
The Licence also further solidifies links to Canada’s national team programs. Canada Soccer scouts elite players from OTFC’s Ontario Player Development League teams, while Club General Manager Pavel Cancura is in regular contact with Team Canada Head Coach John Herdman and his coaching staff.
“There’s a better connection to the national team, so all of their coaching and their ideas, we can then integrate into our club,” signals Vida, noting that the close relationship with Toronto FC’s Academy also provides a vital link to the top international level.
Club culture continues to grow strong at OTFC
It’s been an enormous year for the local club in the off-field news. First, there was the merger between Cumberland and Capital United, then the affiliation with Major League Soccer giant TFC, and now the National Youth Licence.
“It’s a super exciting time. I keep saying that,” smiles Vida, who was Cumberland’s President for 2 years before the new club was created. “Every year, I say, ‘OK, when we achieve this, now we have reached the pinnacle,’ and then there’s something else.”
With the laborious background work complete, OTFC members will soon get to experience some unique new opportunities involving their high-level partners.
“But this is greater than soccer,” Vida adds. “I think that’s what drives a lot of us. There is a passion amongst us about creating better people. We really focus hard on making this an organization that’s teaching kids values, and that there’s a strong culture within the club that everyone feels and wants to be a part of. It’s really about the community we’ve created.
“It’s very hard not to get caught up in that passion.”