After two years of collaborative planning, a pilot project for the Central Region of Ontario called the “IModel” (Integrated Model) started this season across Huronia, York Region, Toronto, North York and Durham Region. In total, 210 youth aged (U13-U18) competitive boys and girls teams will partake in this pilot spanning the 2022 Outdoor Season.
The new IModel concept is an innovative approach to provide a new competition and player development opportunity within the LTPD “Soccer 4 Life” competitive stream. These are the competitive levels for youth soccer at what has been known as District and Regional Level soccer.
The focus of the IModel pilot project is to integrate stakeholders and existing competitive structures, with the goal to unify the soccer community and continue moving the game forward by introducing some novel and sensible solutions and concepts to address a number of difficult challenges: length of the season, self-determination, adequate level of competition, seasonal periodization, promotion & relegation, affordability, etc.
IModel drivers are a combination of league criteria and player readiness, with a vision to equally serve all members, allowing even the smallest organization the possibility of being placed at the adequate competitive level based on merit through a start of season “Qualification Phase” (real-time assessment) rather than an outdated model of promotion and relegation using past year’s results.
The framework features suitable long-term player development principles and standards from Canada Soccer and takes into consideration a player’s stage of development (readiness). The 2022 Outdoor Season will serve as a test of the model in Central Region, where we will gather data to enable us to make any changes that may be necessary to improve the concept. In order to assure pilot project data reliability and validity, Ontario Soccer has secured the services of Brock University’s Faculty of Sport Management to conduct a study to “Explore the Viability and Effectiveness of the IModel within Ontario Soccer”. This research study will provide valuable insight and assessment of the IModel concept and implementation. District Associations, Clubs, Teams and Participants experiencing the IModel pilot will be engaged in the study.
The IModel pilot project combines essential development elements like: mental preparation, goal setting and learning how to cope with competition, while players continue to acquire more advanced skills. The variety of the competitive conditions will give players an equitable opportunity to develop, which will contribute immensely to best prepare their next steps.
The concept also takes into consideration the importance for youth players to have a good balance between family, sports and education. The recommendation of a 3:1 training to game ratio will allow for proper recovery between matches and takes into account how travel impacts behavior.
The Championship Showcase is scheduled to take place in early November for the 2022 edition of the IModel. Teams competing at the Competitive 1 phase (C1) will travel (one time) to the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.
Overall, the IModel brings all members together and bridges many gaps giving more relevance to players in the LTPD “Soccer 4 Life stream”.
This framework underpins very important principles: affordability fairness, inclusiveness, competitiveness, and affordability with achievable goal setting.
In summary, the IModel concept will be tested to provide:
Upon completion of the 2022 IModel pilot project, a full report including the independent research study results will be shared with the membership. Furthermore, post pilot project information sharing sessions will be scheduled with all key stakeholder groups.