CPSL plans to have women's division
The Ontario Soccer Association is concerned about a lack of players.
KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter
Officials from the Canadian Professional Soccer League say a women's division will be on the field this summer. "We're on track. Everything is going forward," said Ryan Gauss, who will manage London City's entry. "We are going through the proper channels to get (approval)."
However, the vice-president of the Ontario Soccer Association, which is the body that would approve women's play, said the CPSL could hurt its men's program if it doesn't receive approval for the women first.
"It could put the whole league in jeopardy," John Knox said. "That's the last thing we want to see."
He said a non-sanctioned women's division would be considered an "outlaw league" that would have trouble getting referees.
OSA director and former CPSL president Vince Ursini, who served the league until Sunday, said the CPSL plans to hold an all-star tournament over three months, with the hope of running a league next summer.
"We're trying to step on as few toes as possible," he said.
He said he didn't believe the CPSL would ever run an outlaw league.
Knox did not like the idea of a women's tournament over three months, calling it "a farce."
He said a CPSL women's division could have a "damaging effect" on the Ontario Women's Soccer League, which has been campaigning to stop the CPSL because of a fear of losing players.
Ursini was upset with the OWSL's position.
"It's a selfish attitude," he said. "It's like coaches holding back talented players because they want to win the Ontario Cup."
Knox also said the North American W-League has four Ontario teams, including the London Gryphons, needing talented females.
"At the present time, the (OSA) league management and most of the board don't believe there are sufficient quality women's players in the province right now," Knox said. "If the CPSL is given permission to form a women's league, where are they going to get their players from?"
Knox, who acknowledged the CPSL has a proven track record, said he is hoping to reach a consensus with all parties involved.
He'd like to see a top-flight women's league in the province but believes it is a couple of years away.
"The present W-League teams, if they would come on board and work with us and the CPSL and the OWSL to form a top-level women's league here, we would support that 100 per cent."
A meeting between all parties, including the W-League teams, will take place April 2.