Ontario Soccer OPDL vs. Academy Leagues – What leagues are better?
Many soccer players and parents across Ontario are confused as to what the best pathway for success is for them or their children.
The OPDL (Ontario Player Development League) claims to be the be-all end-all of youth soccer in Ontario and that is quite simply nowhere near the truth.
I have a son who currently plays U17 in one of the Ontario academy leagues (SAAC and OASL) which is his second season in the academy league after he spent the previous three seasons playing OPDL for Markham, Whitby and United FA (Pickering).
I also grew up playing rep for some of the better clubs in Toronto and also hold my Goalkeeper coaching certificate with Ontario Soccer. I can confirm 1000% that there is ZERO difference in talent level between OPDL and any of the academy leagues across Ontario.
The top end of the CSL (Central Soccer League) would also be comparable to most academy and OPDL clubs as well.
The bigger key to success is finding the right coaching and program that is suitable for the players needs as opposed to wanting to play OPDL. Just because you paid $5000 to play OPDL it doesn’t mean that coach is better for you or your child than say a coach from Ajax Soccer Club in the CSL. Its about personal fit.
There is also this notion among players, coaches and some parents that playing for the Toronto FC academy is the only pathway in Ontario to playing professional soccer and that notion again is completely false.
Although the TFC academy has been an excellent pathway for some players to turn pro and play in the NCAA there are several other academies in Ontario I could argue that have produced much better players over the past decade than TFC including the likes of Sigma FC, Vaughan, Woodbridge and even Unionville.
TFC academy is excellent but not the only path to success for players.
If you or your child enjoy the club you are playing for and the competition level is right then don’t worry about what the crest on your game jersey says; play for the club that is best for you at that age.
Please take a listen to the video included at the top of this article to hear some ideas of how Ontario Soccer can improve for the better of the players.