After Benito Floro exited the role, the manager role for the Canadian men’s national team was empty for almost 6 months before Octavio Zambrano entered it, which is a long time. For comparison, Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced by Bruce Arena as the US manager within 24 hours and Gareth Southgate took over the England job full-time 2 months after Sam Allardyce left the role.
Canada has a long history of taking its time between appointments. 6 months was quick as the last four vacancies lasted an average of 9 and a half months. A big part of Canada’s issue is that Canada, unlike most nations, lacks qualified candidates with extensive knowledge of the Canadian game. Canada is almost solely dependent on bringing outsiders to run this team and its other teams.
As a result, the hiring process takes a great deal longer than it should and these coaches are forced to spend months learning our player pool and creating a culture.
The CanPL solves this and other issues.
Currently there are five Canadians in head coaching roles in the US system and only three are coaching non-youth teams. With even just six teams, the CanPL would more than double the pool of active Canadian coaches coaching at a top level and learning the Canadian player pool first hand. Currently available Canadian coaches like Alen Marcina and Mark Watson not only gain the opportunity improve as coaches but also get to know our player pool and style of play to a degree few really can. The CSA would no longer have to do extensive world-wide searches for a coach as often as they would have a reasonable pool of domestic options who know our pool and style inside out.
When I asked Marcina for a comment on the CanPL, he said “…The CanPL will provide an excellent opportunity to develop Canadian players, coaches, and staff to compete and excel at the highest of international standards.”
This leads me to the second big plus Canada gains from the CanPL with regards to coaching, and it’s the same as one of the big player pluses: a place to polish.
The issue a number of Canadians who were interested in men’s national team role faced was their lack of high-level pro experience. The CanPL offers coaches like Nick Dasovic have a spot to gain that experience and prove they’re capable of managing the national team and highly rated L1O coaches like Carmine Isacco and Peter Pinizzotto and U Sports coaches like Findlay MacRae a chance to step into the realm of pro soccer.
There’s also the rumour of a women’s league being explored, which would offer as many benefits, if not more, to the coaching situation for the women’s program.
Having Canadians occupy manager, assistant coach and technical director roles in the CanPL will do almost as much good for the state of Canadian soccer as simply having Canadians playing. Not just for the future of the Canadian men’s head coach role but also for the various youth programs for both genders across this nation.
The standard of academy coaches in Canada has long been seen as an issue. Jason de Vos has called the improvement of youth coaches his number one priority. It’s hard not to believe that having coaches who have worked in the professional levels applying their knowledge to the academies between club coaching roles, like they do in the US, will help improve the caliber of training youths receive.
While the fact Canadians have a place to play is definitely the biggest gain for Canada thanks to the CanPL, the benefits of Canadians having a place to coach should be celebrated as well.