Toronto, ON- Despite no U SPORTS soccer season, the Canadian Premier League will still hold its annual
CPL-U SPORTS draft, selecting 16 players from Canadian universities.
The league has had a partnership with U SPORTS since its inaugural 2019 season and has held a draft for the players since the 2018 U SPORTS men’s soccer championships in Vancouver, BC.
Usually, the draft takes place on the same weekend as the national championships, and coaches keep a fine eye on the tournament teams. However, this year, without a national championship, the draft has been pushed back to January, allowing teams ample time to scout players from older video.
The 2020/21 draft will consist of two rounds, with eight picks each, making it the largest draft class in the league’s young history, with Atletico Ottawa selecting for the first time. Each of the selected players will be invited to their club’s preseason training camp, with hopes of signing with the club on a permanent or U SPORTS contract. A U SPORTS contact allows a student-athlete with one to five years of U SPORTS eligibility to sign with a CPL team, while preserving their eligibility before returning to U SPORTS competition.
“The CPL-U SPORTS Draft is a key component to the CPL’s success, and we are doing our best to adapt given the cancellation of the Canadian university men’s soccer season,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan in a press release.
“Through the Island Games this year, we were able to see some of the U SPORTS players shine, albeit in a modified season. It is important for us to continue to support and provide opportunities for university players to play professionally and be part of a professional men’s soccer league. We know there are some talented players out there, and we have adapted our draft approach this year in an effort to continue to create a pathway for our homegrown players to play in Canada.”
In the 2020 Island Games/CPL season, U SPORTS players took centre stage. The HFX Wanderers who made the North Star Shield Final were led by U SPORTS selections from Cape Breton with Corey Bent and Peter Schalle and reaped the benefits of Aboubacar Sissoko from the University of Montreal.
Forge FC, who won their second consecutive title, did so with Gabriel Balbinotti, who was crucial to the UQTR Patriotes run to the 2019 U SPORTS gold medal in Montreal, where his side took down the aforementioned Sissoko.
This year’s draft will be very different from the past, without the personal aspect and on-location scouting; however, U SPORTS and CPL coaches have been in contact, tracking and scouting a list of potential players, which CPL scouts will further analyze.
The 2020/21 CPL-U SPORTS Draft will likely be streamed, but that is not confirmed.