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06 November 6:11 pm

A familiar face to Whitecaps FC fans was appointed to an important role in Canadian soccer on Tuesday, as Tony Fonseca was named the Canadian Soccer Association’s new Technical Director.

The former Portuguese international, who was a Whitecaps FC player and head coach (2002-2004) during the club’s United Soccer Leagues First Division days, has been tasked with overseeing ‘the technical growth and development of soccer in Canada’. No small job…

The timing of Fonseca’s appointment is important, as Canada look to chart a new course after last month’s qualifying exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His understanding of the Canadian soccer landscape will be invaluable to addressing the many challenges of his new role.

With the responsibility of establishing new technical policies for Canadian soccer, Fonseca’s influence on player development - particularly at the elite level - will be closely scrutinized by the media and Canadian soccer supporters alike.

Canada’s three Major League Soccer clubs are currently in the business of elite player development and have expressed a willingness to strengthen their relationship with the CSA on this key issue.

Creating a productive player development system through strong collaboration will be essential to Canada’s ability to produce top players at the professional and international level.

Fonseca knows the good work that Whitecaps FC Residency, Toronto FC Academy, and Montreal Impact Academy have been doing in recent years, and is keen to establish a strong partnership between these elite soccer stakeholders.

Where the biggest challenge may lie is in further educating those involved in grassroots soccer across Canada that a different player development pathway is desperately needed. In other words, making those individuals rethink the way they see grassroots soccer in their own communities.

The CSA and Canada’s professional clubs know they have a role to play in this regard and that making such changes will be difficult. However, what should excite Canadian soccer fans is the strong desire that now exists to implement real change.

Congrats Tony and best of luck!