Big Steps Forward for Toronto Futsal this year
The Toronto Futsal League has grown substantially since last season in numerous ways. Dead set last season on starting off by offering the top mens divisions in Ontario, and arguably the country, the league now has its sights set this year on growing the youth game, establishing sponsorships and buidling partnerships but most importantly, putting a heavy focus on establishing their new futsal player ID program that is the first of its kind anywhere in North America.
Starting on November 7th and operating every Sunday until late March, the TFL will be kicking off its latest campaign with a lot of lofty goals it plans to hit. Offering the best competition, referees, venues, and the top futsal technical training programs in the country are some of the major boxes they want to check off. The end game for its members? Competing at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand along with the Pan American Games in Toronto, and eventually the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Ambitious to say the least. But how do they plan to do it?
The first thing they did was to help the OSA, through their Futsal Committee, push the pesky residency rule into the closet for a year in order to build the sport. Last year, the first 9 players on a team had to reside within its district and with 6 districts all within a 30 minute drive in the Greater Toronto Area, this caused significant headaches for teams that wanted to participate but because of red tape were unable to do so. This season teams from around the region will be able to play in the league, which is a huge step forward for integrating them into futsal.
That naturally translates into an increased level of competition. Teams, experienced and new to the game, from Toronto, Durham, York, and Peel are joining this season and that should lead to a huge boost in club futsal interest and growth. Divisions will operate from U8-U10’s, U12, U14, High School Divisions, and their trademark Mens Premier Division. To help each team start on the right track, the league has invested in giving every youth team a free on-court clinic with a player from the national futsal team, which will undoubtedly make the transition easier for coaches and players.
The biggest emphasis from the TFL however doesn’t come in the form of wins, goals, or points; it will be how they play the game. That’s where their F-PIC’s program comes into the fold.
Tired with the lack of investment in futsal from the CSA, the league decided to do something about it and partnered with the London Canadian Futsal League along with coaches and players from 4 other key Ontario leagues to establish a weekend program 2-3 times this season that will invite the top 30-40 players between 14-18 years along with another top 40 adut players from Ontario and Quebec to come together for in-classroom, video analysis, and, of course, plenty of on court training from a truly elite group of top futsal players and coaches. Who will be directing these elite players?
How does the trio of Roy Blanche, Vlad Karpenko, and Lorenzo Redrood sound? Never heard of them? Well here’s a briefing:
Blanche is the Canadian national futsal team goalkeeper with 5 provincial and national futsal club championships to his name along with being the only Canadian to have played at the prestigious Futsal Grand Prix twice (2007,2008). He is an OSA Futsal Coaching instructor, is one of the TFL’s Technical Directors, and the demand for his courses is unmatched. Former Belarussian national player, Vlad Karpenko is a methodical builder that has seen his North York Dynamo club become arguably the most dominant youth futsal club over the last decade that boasts 2 OSA Futsal Cup titles along with numerous AMF Ontario Futsal Championships and tournament victories. Lorenzo Redwood is a legend within the Toronto futsal community having played at the highest level for years before taking over the reigns as coach of the North York Hearts Azzurri Girls team that won multiple titles last season and also coaches one of the best mens squads, Ecuador Impact, in Canada.