The West Ottawa Soccer Club has hired its first-ever chief executive officer to manage the rapidly growing organization.
“The operation’s so large now we need a professional to look after the day-to-day operations of the club as well as take the club to the next level,” said Brian Mason, president of the soccer association. “The club’s growing and it’s just an awful lot of work.”
Bjorn Osieck, will assume the post of CEO after spending the past six and a half years at the helm of the British Columbia Soccer Association, the third-largest soccer governing body in the country, with roughly 150,000 registered players, coaches, officials and volunteers. Prior to that, Osieck was executive director of operations for the Saskatchewan Soccer Association from 2003-06.
“I am thrilled to join forces with Brian Mason and the entire WOSC board and staff team to serve the club’s growing membership base,” said Osieck in a press release. “Much has been said in recent years about what we collectively have to do to ensure Canadian soccer’s future success at all levels and I firmly believe that clubs like the WOSC are the grassroots engine to drive the needed changes in the years ahead.”
Osieck holds a business administration and a master’s degree in sports administration from York University in Toronto.
His father, Holger Osieck, was the head coach of Canada’s soccer team when it won the 2000 Gold Cup and is now the head coach of Australia’s men’s team.
The creation of the CEO position comes two years after the Kanata Soccer Association and Goulbourn Soccer Association voted to merge, creating the second largest soccer club in the country.
The new CEO will handle day-to-day management of the club as well as work to create strategic alliances with the municipal and provincial governments and forge ties with other soccer bodies such as the Ontario and Canadian soccer associations.
Osieck will also be asked to continue efforts by the club to foster long-term player development, by providing programs that move away from scores and standings and instead concentrates on basic skill development, especially for players between the ages of four to 12.
“It’s not all about winning; it’s about developing the athlete,” said Mason, adding that no scores will be kept of games played by children between the ages of four and 12.
“It’s being met with some resistance from certain groups,” said Mason. “It depressurizes the game completely.”
Osieck will also be responsible for working with the city and local businesses to develop soccer fields as soon as possible, said Mason,
“We’d love to partner with the larger companies in the west end,” said Mason, adding that no potential partners have been identified as of yet. “We’re open to partnering with whoever we can.”
Heading up West Ottawa Soccer was an opportunity too exciting to pass up, said Osieck.
The game of soccer is undergoing a grassroots revolution in communities, he said, with clubs starting to join forces to deliver better programs and facilities.
“You see less and less of the small organizations and you see more and more of the larger organizations,” he said. “It’s just a professionalization of the game.”
Osieck said his immediate priority is to establish stronger relationships with other soccer clubs such as the Nepean Hotspurs and Ottawa South United as well as governing bodies such as the Ontario Soccer Association.
The city’s soccer associations must work together and present a unified voice to make it easier to work with municipal decision makers, Osieck said.
“We need to look also inside the club,” said Osieck. “Make sure we have the best and appropriate array of programming.”
Long term player development is another priority, he said.
Players might have temporary success built on size or strength, but might not necessarily develop the necessary skills for later years, such as playing on junior and national teams, said Osieck.
“They can’t compete anymore because everyone is strong and fast,” he said. “But (meanwhile other players) have developed soccer skills.”
Skills such as balance, co-ordination, running, throwing and kicking.
The soccer association needs to provide programs that develop those skills without fear of failure, he added.
That won’t happen if teams focus on scoring and winning, said Osieck.
“Soccer is the world’s game,” he said. “But (it) is alive and well at the community level. It’s the beautiful game.”