Hart’s critics will point to his lack of experience at both the professional and international level, as well as the fact that he has never guided a national team, at any level, through a successful qualifying campaign.
They will bemoan the fact that the CSA failed to hire an experienced European, South American, or - dare I say it - American coach to guide our World Cup fortunes.
Well, apart from the fact that the CSA cannot afford to appoint a coach of such international standing, let me make this analogy: Even if we hired Michael Schumacher as our driver, we would never win the Formula 1 Championship if all he had to drive was a pick-up truck.
Make no mistake about it, folks. That is the automotive equivalent of our pool of national team players - hard working and reliable without any world-class pedigree or quality.
Hart focused on 2014 qualification
That is not meant as a criticism of our players, because exactly the same can be said of our men’s team at any time in the history of Canadian soccer. When it comes to producing soccer players, as a nation we are much more likely to put out a team of F-150s than a team of Aston Martins.
That being said, I like what Stephen Hart had to say on Monday. He has made a clear statement that his sole focus is qualification for the World Cup in 2014, and the responsibility for that qualification rests with the players.
Despite his nice-guy demeanour, Hart is a passionate individual who can now reach out to uncapped players like David Edgar and David Hoilett and lay out a plan for their international careers with Canada.
If those players choose to turn their backs on Canada, it will be their decision – not Hart’s.
As interim manager, Hart has spoken to both players about their international futures. Now that he is the full-time manager and is able to make a commitment to those players, hopefully they will in turn make a commitment to Canada.
New board structure in the works
In other news, the CSA held a board meeting in Montreal this past weekend, where it took its initial steps in implementing a new governance structure.
The CSA’s board of directors unanimously approved moving forward with the governance renewal framework presented by the governance committee. There are a number of steps still to be taken, and as I said last week, this new governance structure is not going to be in place until May 2011.
But there are definitely encouraging signs to come out of this weekend’s meetings.
One of the fundamental components of this new governance structure is that the new board of directors will be completely independent. By that, I mean that both elected and appointed CSA board members will not be permitted to serve on any provincial board of directors.
Yes, you read that correctly.
A truly independent board is the goal of the governance committee, and if all goes according to plan, there will be both elected and appointed members on that board. Who is responsible for making the appointments is one of many issues yet to be resolved.
This opens the door for a number of different scenarios on the board, one of which is possible representation from a national team alumni association.
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the CSA’s board of directors is that they are an insular group who have failed to seek out the advice and knowledge of those within the game who have been successful both professionally and internationally.
There are many former players who have made successful transitions into fields such as business, medicine, law and administration. Many of them would be more than willing to serve on the board of directors if given the opportunity, and their soccer knowledge would prove very valuable at the board level.
Implementing a structure that allows for a certain number of appointed board members - rather than the traditional method of electing provincial board members - could see former players take up a more active role in the policy making decisions that shape the game in Canada.
It would also allow the CSA the opportunity to go outside of the soccer community in order to appoint successful business leaders to the board of directors.
This has to be viewed as a positive, as the business experience and knowledge of such executives would be of great benefit when it comes to generating the much-needed revenue to fund our national team campaigns at every level.
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