The Canadian Soccer Association has gone with a familiar face to chart the development of the game in Canada, announcing on Tuesday that Tony Fonseca (above, left) would take over the position of technical director.
The position had been unfilled since 2009, when Stephen Hart left to assume control of the senior men’s national team.
Fonseca, a former player for Benfica and the Portuguese national team is no stranger to the game in Canada, arriving in 1999 to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps and later coaching the team from 2002-04. He most recently guided the Canadian Under-23 team to within one game of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics and was the assistant for the senior team under Hart.
“This position will give me an opportunity to give back to the country that has welcomed me and my family with open arms,” Fonseca said in a conference call with media on Thursday. “Obviously this is an important role that will allow us to progress immensely.”
With more children playing soccer than any other sport in Canada, much has been made of the country’s inability to take advantage of those numbers by churning out more quality players to make up ground in the CONCACAF region. With three Canadian clubs in MLS, and Ottawa joining Edmonton in the NASL in 2014, there are more opportunities for Canadian talent to make the step up to the pro levels at home.
However, there is still a great deal of miscommunication between pro clubs and the provincial governing bodies. It’s a situation Fonseca says is his first priority to sort out.
“I think we will determine the best manner in which we can work together for mutual benefit,” Fonseca said, adding that he would like to sit down with the clubs, academies and provincial representatives to find common ground and build trust between the concerned parties when it comes to player development.
“I will do that immediately because I think there’s an urge and priority to get that relationship to take place.”
Fonseca said he would like to emulate the model set south of the border by new US youth soccer technical director Claudio Reyna and establish a curriculum and criteria for developing young talent for all Canadian National Training Centers as quickly as possible.