Our mission is to support, grow, and inspire the game in every community. So how did we do this year? Let’s take a look.
Interest in the Beautiful Game
More kids are playing the game in Ohio in 2022 than in 2021. OSA recorded an increase of about 10,000 new players this year across all programming, including competitive, recreational, and TOPSoccer. We attribute some of this to being a World Cup year, but we also believe a large part of the increase is a firm testament to your efforts within your local communities.
As the game continues to grow in Ohio, so does our commitment to making sure that players have a safe place to play and that the local league or club administration has the support that they need. To follow through on this commitment, we have expanded our staff, increased our “at-the-ground” presence, and increased our communication output through email and social media.
Coaching education is the key to player “FUN.” Coaches impact the quality of the youth soccer experience and, ultimately, player retention and development. Keeping young players positively and actively engaged, and helping them enjoy their formative soccer experiences, are the primary goals of coaching education. The concept of “FUN” is most often realized when the players are meaningfully engaged, and their team culture is positive. In the bigger scheme of things, winning is irrelevant.
In 2022, OSA delivered 26 Grassroots and three “D” license courses across all corners of the state. Two “C” courses were also held, one of which was in collaboration with the Columbus Crew and included use of their professional facilities.
For 2023, an additional 36 Grassroots and five “D” licenses are currently scheduled, with a limited number of additional offerings available upon request. OSA will also offer two “C” courses again, with one being held in partnership with the Crew.
For 2023, the 4-hour Grassroots courses will continue to feature 2 hours on the field and 2 hours in a virtual classroom. Two courses (typically, 7v7 and 11v11) are scheduled together to allow coaches to fulfill the prerequisites to move onto the “D” license. The length of the “D” license has been reduced from 16 weeks to 9 weeks, but with two, 2-day in-person meetings added to the schedule. The number of assignments has been significantly reduced.
In the coming years, OSA will offer fall and spring Grassroots and D licenses in each of the seven districts, with both C and B-level courses available to those seeking more advanced certification.
Coaches interested in earning certification should first create a personal profile in the US Soccer Learning Center…. https://www.ussoccer.com/coaching.
Clubs interested in hosting a coaching education experience should email Dr. Tom Turner at email@example.com.
Member Services & Player Safety
Over the past year, OSA and its Member Services team have purposefully made an effort to reach out proactively to our members to support them in the areas of education and training. With 14 professional staff with three (3) local offices in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, we provided unparalleled customer service for more than 78,000 registered players and 10,000+ coaches and volunteers.
First and foremost, our highest priority is participant safety at all levels of the game to ensure a safe, healthy environment, free from abuse and misconduct. In partnership with our risk experts at Players Health, OSA is a leader in participant safety and offers more than just insurance coverage.
Our Member Services team spent countless hours in 2022 identifying member pain points, finding solutions, and recommending best practices for our integrated registration and risk management platforms. We look forward to providing you with customized how-to guides, videos, seasonal checklists, club, league, and special topic webinars, FAQs, new member and board toolkits, and more in the coming year!
Additionally, we are excited to expand our suite of services, ancillary insurance products, and parent/guardian education. More information will be unveiled at our 2023 Annual General Meeting to be held on Saturday, February 25th in Dayton.
Olympic Development Program
The Olympic Development Program, or ODP, continues to provide an Opportunity to Develop Players in Ohio. This year concluded the first full state-wide ODP season post-merger and provided an equal opportunity to any player around the state who wanted to participate.
Six training sessions were held, along with the District Festival in Dayton, which featured over 1800 players. The State Pool camp (Phase III) was taken to new heights at Bowling Green State University and received rave reviews from parents and players alike, offering not only a fun atmosphere (coaches game anyone?) but a unique opportunity to stay on a college campus and train closely with coaches for several days.
Ohio was selected to host the ODP Sub-Regional event, which took place shortly after Phase III at Voice of America Park outside Cincinnati. Over 450 players selected from Phase III to the Ohio ODP State Pool Teams (Phase IV) participated in this event, where they would represent Ohio against other same-aged teams from Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and other Midwest states.
Over 150 players were then selected to join the Midwest Regional ID Camp in Illinois. From there, players have the opportunity to reach additional regional and national events.
What a year! With the merger of Ohio South and Ohio North into OSA, OSSL became the Ohio Soccer State League for the 2021-22 season. While working through the 21-22 season and talking with our clubs, we have incorporated exciting new changes to help make the 2022-23 season even better:
- Welcomed Deb Cowan to the OSSL team
- Expanded roster sizes (25 max for U12 and 30 max for U13+)
- Updated process to submit game information and changes
- Scheduling of referees is now done by OSSL and not by the teams
- Updated process to submit game scores
- True home and away games
- Removal of mandatory U15+ Fall games
- Modification of GLC-OSSL play requirements
We welcome all feedback and look forward to continuous improvement and innovation to make OSSL the best it can be.
Buckeye Premier Youth Soccer League
This year, Buckeye (BPYSL) was fully integrated into OSA and is now operated out of the OSA offices. You can read more about the merger here.
This has ushered in changes for the league and will continue to do so moving forward. Some of these changes include:
- Lower fees for U12’s and under
- Increased available roster size
- Added unlimited guest players
- New branding and identity
- New group play weekends
- Integration of OSDL
- Introduction of new markets and clubs
- Office location changes
Under a new direction, with a new attitude and valuable insights from participating clubs, BPYSL will look to build upon a successful 2022.
Ohio Soccer Developmental League
OSDL integrated into Buckeye shortly after the Fall season and will continue to provide a player-focused atmosphere, with special attention on positive learning environments on the field and sidelines. OSDL is much less about results and much more about providing the correct environment for players to learn new skills without fear of making mistakes. It is also a training ground for budding referees, providing them a valuable opportunity to get games as they improve their skills.
OSDL held eight successful Group Play Weekends in 2022 and achieved a 100% referee coverage rate. With OSDL now part of Buckeye, the Group Play Weekends will continue in the spring and are open to other teams within BPYSL.
Read more about the integration of OSDL into Buckeye.
This year saw the continuation of our Respect the Ref campaign as we strive to bring attention to a serious issue within the health of our game: negative sideline behavior. Through multiple content releases on social media, email, and website, OSA continues to drive change toward achieving positive sidelines.
Additionally, we continue to work closely with both state referee committees in Ohio to help support their efforts in any way possible. One way this was done was the hosting of a new referee certification class at our Annual General Meeting.
New referees are always needed! To find out how to get certified, click here.
2022 Cup Series
This year was also the first statewide Cup Series, which takes place largely in May/June and consists of three major events that cap the season; State Cup, Presidents Cup, and Governors Cup. For State Cup and Presidents Cup teams, this is the start of the national pathway and champions qualify for regional events.
Over 490 teams from all around the state participated in this momentous occasion and produced some notable history, cementing themselves as the first participants in a truly statewide event. We were thrilled to welcome many newcomers to the Cup Series, such as Whetstone Park Rangers, Inner Cincinnati, Madeira FC, Hancock Fusion, and more. Another notable includes the first time in club history that a team from Olimpia USA has won a state title and qualified for a regional competition! They would go on to reach the final of the Midwest Presidents Cup.
As one of the largest State Associations in the country, OSA consistently presents a strong group of teams at regional and national levels. This was reemphasized over the summer as 17 teams from 8 different clubs in Ohio qualified for the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Orlando – the third highest representation per state in the country. Three of those teams would compete in the semifinals, where Cincinnati United Premier 06B Gold would go on to win a national title in the 16U Boys age group. Congratulations!
The Road to Florida repeats in 2023, with the National Championships again in Orlando. Could Ohio have another national title? We hope so!
About Ohio Soccer Association (OSA):
OSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to growing youth soccer in the State of Ohio. Our singular goal is to support, inspire, and grow youth soccer by unlocking the potential within every community. We support clubs, leagues, teams, coaches, referees, parents, and players with resources, expertise, and programs that it easier for young people to get involved and stay in the game. We stand for innovation, integrity, teamwork, inclusion, and trust.