Debriefs being held with the organizations that applied for OPDL licences have reinforced what SAAC has known all along – that the majority of SAAC members are maintaining the highest of technical and organizational standards in the country, which meet or exceed OPDL requirements. OSA feedback received thus far is confirming that SAAC members easily met and exceeded the technical and organizational requirements expected from high performance programs in Ontario.
Ultimately the selection committee denied the applications of SAAC organizations because the documentation submitted did not include three years of audited financial statements. This was a conscious decision on the part of our members and while we are disappointed that the committee took such a hard line with a requirement that had very little impact on the ability of our applicants to deliver a quality program, we were not surprised.
SAAC members are, for the most part, private corporations who, unlike most Not-For-Profit entities, do not have a legal obligation to produce annual audited financial statements. SAAC questioned the rationale behind this requirement for OPDL membership, given that it’s strict application obviously put private organizations at a severe disadvantage in the process. Estimates obtained by some member to go back and produce three years of audited financials were in the range of $10,000-$15,000 per member.
Since at the application deadline, the OSA had not confirmed the eligibility of Academies to participate in OPDL, SAAC could not, in good conscience, recommend that it’s members make the financial investment to comply with this requirement.
SAAC and its members did submit financial information to clearly demonstrate that membership in SAAC, and adherence to the technical and organizational standards in place, required Academies to operate at the very least on the same financial level as would OPDL clubs. Further it demonstrated SAAC organizations track record of successfully operating on this level for many years and across their whole organization, not just one age group.
Since the OSA Board of Directors ultimately voted against allowing certain Academies into the OPDL, the decision to forego audited financials saved our members thousands of dollars which can be invested back into their programs in order to continue to provide a high performance environment for the ideal development of their players, coaches and organizational staff.
SAAC intends to keep this issue at the forefront in the coming months. We feel that a process which outright rejects the proven leadership in this area by our member organizations for non-soccer reasons while at the same time allowing brand new organizations with no high performance player development history to ‘learn on the job’ is fundamentally flawed and must be overhauled in order for the OPDL to deliver on its promises to Ontario players, coaches and the game itself.