Many of our TSS customers, and others, have approached us over the last few weeks about HPL (now BCPL), asking for guidance during these confusing and uncertain times. There doesn't seem to be any congruency between the timing or the process of the try-outs. With impossible deadlines to meet, the try-outs have become the wild west of player selection as clubs scramble to secure players for their programming. Furthermore, these clubs are now charging fees significantly higher than previous years. Is it worth the money? That's the big question that will be answered over the next year or so.
Our primary advice to others has been this: HPL is now a business. Don't let anyone fool you by hiding behind their non-profit status. When a club charges you as much as $2500 and pays their coaches upwards of $15,000 per team, it's a business - plain and simple. So likewise you must now think of yourself as a customer and, as such, you should strive to become an informed and discriminating customer. Do not accept mediocrity in the product that's been offered. TSS has been operating under these terms for over 14 years. If our programming meets your needs, you pay for our services. If our programming falls short, you simply withdraw from our program or choose not to participate in the first place. Acting as a customer is not a bad thing. This will actually help the soccer community because for too long players/parents have accepted whatever was served up… and most of the time, it simply has not been good enough.
How do you become a discriminating customer? Ask many questions, questions such as what qualifications and experience do the coaching staff have? What is the extent of their program experience? Have they ever been a head coach of a team for an entire season(s)? What will the approach to coaching be? How many players will be on the roster? Is there a seasonal plan prepared by the coach? What are the learning outcomes for the year? Will I be allowed to participate in other programs such as TSS? How does the budget break down? What are my fees going to pay for? Will there be an accounting of actual costs at the end of the program?
If you end up participating on an HPL team then watch what is going on. Is your child getting better at the game? Is the coaching staff encouraging the players to play properly by possessing the ball and passing back when needed? Are the players allowed to make mistakes on the field? Or is the coaching staff just trying to win by allowing and/or encouraging the players to aimlessly kick the ball forward? Remember that just because your team is winning does not mean that players are getting any better at the game nor does it mean that your coach is doing a good job. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in youth soccer.
If you are not happy with the product at any of the HPL clubs then our advice is to not play HPL and wait for a better product to emerge. Do not believe the clubs who tell you that forgoing HPL will set your child back developmentally. That's complete codswallop. That type of fear mongering has been going on for too long in our soccer community.
For example, TSS Academy has been helping players get recruited to college for many years and we can tell you categorically that college coaches could care less where you play. Many of them don't even know what all the levels mean - nor do they care. All they care about is whether a player, by their grade 12 year, can play well and can make a positive contribution to their college or university. What's important is that the player takes personal responsibility for their development and finds good coaching along the way.
So will HPL be worth the money and the time commitment? That's the big question that you will have to answer over the coming years. The track record of defunct leagues such as IPL and, soon-to-be, Y League is not a record that instills confidence. In the meantime, you must continue to be a discriminating customer, which will only help the soccer community improve. Don't believe those who say you have to support the "system" regardless. On the contrary, the system has to support you - especially if they're charging that kind of money. HPL is now a business so TSS would like to officially welcome the clubs into our world of free enterprise.------------------