Club Licensing

On July 31, 2019, Canada Soccer announced the first group of successful applicants for the National Youth Club License. Across Canada, 39 clubs were successful in achieving a Provisional license, including the following 7 clubs in Alberta:

Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program – Executive Summary

The Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program is designed to guide member organizations throughout the country toward best principles for organizational development both on and off the field. Member organizations play an essential role in the development of players, coaches, and officials and provide both the daily playing environment and primary contact for participants. By raising the standards of member organizations, both the daily playing environment and participant experience are enhanced; thereby improving the overall soccer system in Canada.

In developing the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program, the underlying philosophy is to take “high standards” to “best principles”. Many Provincial/Territorial Soccer Organizations (PTSOs) have existing charters or standards-based programs, which provided a guide for the development of the national standards. By consolidating these programs along with those of Canada Soccer’s governing bodies, CONCACAF and FIFA, it is envisioned that the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program is vertically aligned (from FIFA through the PTSOs) and integrates best principles from several sources to create a standard that is both high quality and recognizes the unique Canadian soccer landscape.

The primary goals of the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program are to:
  • Set clearly defined standards and expectations for member organizations;
  • Recognize excellence in the soccer community;
  • Raise the level of all soccer organizations throughout Canada; and,
  • Drive change in the soccer system.

To achieve these goals, the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program takes a principles-based approach. Principles provide direction but not detailed prescription, allowing organizations to develop and select the methods by which they will operate based on their available resources and unique situation and context.

The principles of the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program are grounded in the values being established for the Canadian soccer community to guide the behaviour of all organizations and can be utilized to inform choices, establish impacts, and drive outcomes. The Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program Principles are as follows:

  1. Prioritize Fun
  2. Emphasize Physical, Mental, and Emotional Safety
  3. Provide Developmentally-Appropriate, High Quality Programs
  4. Maximize Attraction, Holistic Personal Development, Progression, and Long-Term Engagement
  5. Focus on Participant-Centred Decision Making
  6. Foster Accessible, Inclusive, and Welcome Environments
  7. Act as a Good Corporate and Community Citizen

After the announcement of the successful Alberta applicants, Alberta Soccer, the clubs, and their associated Districts began working on the implementation of a National Youth Club Licensed competition, scheduled to launch in the Spring of 2020. The competition will create a “best-on-best” Canada Soccer-aligned competition in our province.

The competition season (limited to clubs who achieve their National Youth Club License status prior to October 31, 2019), was scheduled to begin play in April 2020 and launch with a single age group (U14) for both genders. Alberta Soccer has opted to launch one age group per year, until we complete the implementation of all age groups in 2023. Each year, a new U14 group will be introduced to the league as the previous U14 group advances to the next age category.

The competition will be “periodized” across a full calendar year, allowing for:

  • scheduled breaks throughout the year to avoid training overload,
  • games to be scheduled with adequate intervals between them, and
  • planning and recovery time for clubs, coaches, players, and families.

Alberta Soccer’s stakeholder group has also begun identifying the framework for player movement between Licensed and District clubs and worked on the operational details (competition timeframes, schedules, player intake and registration processes) to ensure we are prepared for a successful delivery of the National Youth Club Licensed competition.

Please click on link for the DRAFT PDP Operational Plan for 2020: PDP Operational Plan v2 (1)  Additional details about the Competition will be released as they are finalized.

Licensing and PDP FAQs

Why was this League created?
• This league is made up of clubs that have received the National Youth Club Licence (NYCL), the highest amateur youth club designation in the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program.
• This program is designed to raise soccer standards across the country, improve the soccer system and guide organizations toward best principles of development both on and off the field.
• Canada Soccer wants to improve the caliber of soccer in Canada. Standards and credentials will result in better players and better coaching environments. The AYSL program will elevate the quality of soccer while nurturing a love of the game. It will encourage talented, competitive players to stay engaged in the sport long term.
• It will provide a clear pathway for players to advance to the next levels of the game – college/university, professional teams, and youth/senior national teams, as shown below. And specifically, for boys’ players, membership in a National Youth Club Licensed club will provide them “homegrown” status in the MLS.

What criteria did the clubs have to meet in order to be awarded a license?
These clubs demonstrated competencies around governance, administration, infrastructure, and technical support. A complete list of required criteria can be found here.

Can my Club still apply for a license? How do we apply?
Yes. Canada Soccer is not limiting the number of approved clubs. Full details on the application process can be found here.

If my Club gets a license in future years, will they be able to place teams in all the age groups?
No. Upon successfully receiving the License, a club will be admitted to the next year’s AYSL competition for the U14 age group only. Newly licensed clubs will not be “grandfathered” into the competition for prior years/older age groups. In other words, 2006 players (this year’s launch age group) who are at a non-licensed club won’t be able to participate in the AYSL even if their club gets a license in future years. The 7 Alberta clubs who received their National Youth Club Licensed in August 2019 will be the only clubs who will have 2006 players involved in the AYSL, even if other clubs get their license in subsequent years.

What is the role of Canada Soccer in this league?
Canada Soccer is the National Youth Club License owner and manages the applications, awards, and reviews of clubs who achieve their National Youth Club License. Canada Soccer created the License Application Package for Member Organizations, they also review and decide which clubs meet the criteria, with support from Alberta Soccer and the local Districts.

Can individual teams play in the league?
No. Only clubs that have achieved the club licensed standard can register teams in the AYSL.

How much does the program cost?
Fees will vary from club to club. The league will have start-up costs that have been provided to the clubs. Alberta Soccer registration fees for licensed clubs are estimated to be $3,500 per calendar year, plus a one-time initiation fee of $2,500. Additional costs may be applied by clubs for additional club-related expenses (e.g., travel costs, new uniforms, etc.). In comparison, during the first year of the launch of Ontario Soccer’s OPDL in 2014, the program fee per team was $9,000. In 2019, the OPDL program fee per team was $6,000.

What ages can play in the licensed program?
Alberta Soccer will launch one age group annually, until all ages are represented in 2023. Each year, a new U14 group will be introduced to the league, as the previous U14 group advances to the next age category, until the league has representation from U14-U17. A specific decision was made to start at U14, which will allow U13s to experience a year of 11v11 with their District clubs before potentially moving into a standards based 11v11 completion among the licensed clubs.

Who should try out for this league?
This is the highest level of soccer for youth in Alberta. If your child wants to participate in standardized league that highlights organizational achievements in providing the most holistic, development environment – this is the place for them.

What if my child makes the team but is not enjoying the program?
If the program is not a fit for your child, they can return to their club’s District team at any time. Please note, players are not allowed to play in two leagues at the same time.

What is long term player development and what does it mean for my child?
It is a framework which helps align age and stage appropriate training and development for players. Long-term player development means coaches will tend to the specific physical, mental, technical, social and emotional development to ensure well-rounded players. Participants will have access to fitness training and sports psychology as part of their development. A twelve-month schedule will allow for a longer season and more in-depth skill refinement. The league will be built on principals of best practices and principles for youth athlete development and the coaches will have national credentials.

How will the season be different, in terms of scheduling?
Alberta Soccer is preparing to rollout details specific to schedules, evaluations and the registration process. Competition will be “periodized” across a full calendar year, meaning there will be scheduled breaks throughout the twelve-month period to avoid training overload. Games will be scheduled in regular intervals ensuring planning and recovery time. Additional details will be released as they are finalized.
Please check here regularly for updates.

Can I try out if I am currently registered for a District club that does not have a license?
All players who are interested in the program are welcome to tryout with one of the licensed clubs. Information will be provided about player awareness and education events when they are scheduled.

What about the REX Program?
Alberta Soccer is modifying it involvement with elite player programing. The REX program will continue to highlight Alberta’s young women who are tracking towards national team inclusion for the foreseeable future, while other provincial training programs are winding down. High-performance player development will now become the primary responsibility of the licensed clubs. Nonetheless, Alberta Soccer is in on-going discussions with Canada Soccer to determine how REX programming will evolve in this new licensed club environment.

If my child is interested in playing for this league, what is the evaluation process?
Information about the evaluation and intake process will be communicated when player awareness and intake events have been scheduled. All players who are interested in the program are welcome to tryout. We also expect that there will be on-going player awareness and evaluation events as the new competition is launched.

How many games will be played each year in the new league?
The expectation is that there will be approximately 30 formally scheduled games for each club over the calendar year, 18 within the outdoor 11v11 competition, and an additional 10-12 games during the indoor 9v9 development schedule. Once available, schedules will be posted here.

Will there still be Nationals?
Canada Soccer’s National Championships will still take place; teams will qualify to attend Alberta Soccer Provincial Championships through their District league. However, Canada Soccer is planning for a licensed club championship competition in future years. Until a national licensed club championship is formally introduced by Canada Soccer, Alberta Soccer and BC Soccer are anticipating hosting a regional playoff jointly with selected clubs from each province.

Any questions regarding the National Youth Club Licence or the Alberta Youth Soccer League may be emailed to the Alberta Soccer Technical Director