OYSA Beginning a Year of Rebuilding and Assessment
July marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for OYSA, meaning a new budget to support the programs and services of our members.
Most are aware that in spite of significant enhancements to services in FY 08/09 and 09/10 — like online registration, additional coaching capacity, referee development and free youth modules — Portland Youth Soccer decided to not to register their 9,000 members with OYSA. They choose instead to do what might be described as a "go-it-alone" or "parks and recreation" model — unaffiliated with any sporting organization other than themselves.
This was the largest migration away from OYSA, but it wasn't the first. Many clubs had been taking advantage of new policies and bylaws of the U.S. Soccer Federation that allowed clubs to register some of their members with US Youth Soccer (through OYSA) and some with other U.S. Soccer Federation member or affiliated organizations. Clubs saved money and still received the benefits of membership in the state association that created and supported the youth soccer infrastructure in Oregon.
The service enhancements of the last couple of years were our way of demonstrating to our members that we were committed to bringing them value for their membership dollar. It didn't matter if only 20 percent of a club was registered with OYSA, we insured their fields, their board and volunteers, trained their coaches and paid their way and provided them with full voting rights at our Annual General Meetings. We did this to support the sport — and out members.
Last year, a group of clubs that had started a U11 league the year before — because they didn't want to be constrained by the policies adopted by an 85 percent majority of our membership at our AGM to play 8v8 at that age — decided to expand the league to include U10 and U12 age groups. This further eroded our membership, though in the end they registered their U12 group with OYSA.
But since their U12 league was separate from the OYSA U12 league, it divided play throughout the state and resulted in leagues that were smaller and not as well-balanced as if they had been united.
They wanted to expand again to include U13 and U14 age groups in FY 10/11. After agreeing not to do so, they then changed their minds and served OYSA notice that they would, in fact, be operating their own leagues from U10 through U14 in the fall. Alas, a number of other clubs, particularly in the Portland area, have chosen to play in this new league — one that is sanctioned by another Federation member — because the league seems to require less travel than OYSA's league. Many fear that if they don't play in this new league, they will lose players or whole teams to the clubs that do play in the league.
Regardless of the reality, a lot of competitive players will be registering with another U.S. Soccer Federation member this year. Since competitive dues are higher than recreational dues, and because competitive leagues and tournaments generate expenses associated with game scheduling, referee assigning, referee payroll and event management, this shift — together with the trend of recreational members migrating to lower-cost options — means that the OYSA budget for the FY 10/11 is substantially less than in previous years.
The result is an organizational downsizing. We have eliminated three positions and have reduced the hours of many others. Our current plan is to provide the same services as we always have — coaching clinics, Olympic Development Program, new club and existing club development, TOPSoccer support, insurance, online registration, background checks and dispute resolution, to mention only a few.
We are also continuing our administration of Leagues and Tournaments. Our Fall League has been restructured to adjust for the changes in the number of teams. We will continue to have a Premier Qualifying Tournament for our statewide premier league, but we have regionalized play below premier so teams don't have to travel as far and have eliminated the Classic Qualifying Tournament.
We have taken advantage of the Northwest Division of the Far West Regional League and are working schedules so that teams that want to play in this high-end league can also play in our Premier League. We have worked with Washington State Youth Soccer so most, if not all, of their teams that aren't playing in Washington's Premier League in their District 5 (the greater Vancouver area) will be playing in what we are calling our Portland Metro League. It will actually be a combined/collaborative league with Washington, managed in part by a joint Operating Committee.
We are doing a lot of new and exciting things, but there is no doubt that we will continue to review and assess our business and service model to make sure it is both sustainable, and responsive and relevant to the needs of our members.
We will be reaching out in a number of ways to solicit input, but please don't hesitate to send me your ideas and comments. I can be reached at Chuck@oregonyouthsoccer.org.
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