Canadian Premier League Announces 2021 CPL-U SPORTS Draft Plans
The Canadian Premier League has announced a new format for the 2020 CPL-U SPORTS Draft due to the cancellation of this year’s U SPORTS university season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than taking place in November, the 2021 CPL U-SPORTS Draft will be delayed until mid-to-late January 2021 in order for a more robust video recruitment process to be put into place by the CPL’s Football Development Scouting Division.
The 2021 CPL-U Sports Draft will consist of two rounds of eight picks each, which means there’ll be one pick for each Canadian Premier League club per round. Like the prior drafts, being selected doesn’t guarantee contract: the sixteen selected draftees are simply being invited to participate in their selected side’s preseason training with a U SPORTS Developmental Contract on the line.
Of note, this will be Atletico Ottawa’s first time participating in the CPL-U SPORTS Draft.
The CPL’s Football Development Department has been acquiring input from U SPORTS coaches from coast to coast in order to build a prospects list for all eight CPL coaches to take a look at through a digital medium, with statistics, player profiles, and video footage helping them make their choices.
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. 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 to 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.David Clanachan
Continuing from last year’s adjusted roles, only underclassmen will be eligible for the draft, which means that graduating athletes won’t be participating. Players signed to developmental contracts don’t count as internationals, with the unique partnership also preserving their eligibility for U SPORTS competition following their season with the club who gave them a contract.
We are excited to continue providing this important developmental opportunity for our men’s soccer student-athletes through the CPL-U SPORTS Draft. Canadian university soccer players had the chance to display their impressive talents at the Island Games over the summer thanks to our ongoing valuable partnership. We look forward to the next draft class having their names called by CPL clubs from coast-to-coast and watching them flourish in the league in preparation for a return to varsity competition.Lisette Johnson-Staply, U SPORTS CSO
In the event a club signs a player to a full professional contract, they will count as an international if applicable and will lose their eligibility to return to U SPORTS action following the 2021 Canadian Premier League season.
This year’s Island Games campaign featured at least twelve former CPL-U SPORTS Draft picks participating in the bubble tournament, with 2019 U SPORTS champion Gabriel Balbinotti suiting up for his final match of the season with Forge FC tonight.
The 2019 CPL-U SPORTS Draft saw a top pick Cory Bent sign with the Halifax Wanderers, and we noted that international pedigree came highly-rated in club selections, La Belle province was largely underutilized, and CPL clubs were shying away from U SPORTS goalkeepers. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these trends continue next year.
The exact date of the 2020 CPL-U SPORTS Draft is yet to be determined.