Windsor TFC, Tecumseh SC excited by new League1 format change

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Competitive soccer is about to get much more challenging for two area teams.

Windsor TFC, Tecumseh SC excited by new League1 format change
© Provided by Windsor Star Windsor TFC will be playing for a bigger prize along with Tecumseh SC when the League1 season gets underway.

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League1 Ontario has announced it will move to a league pyramid system in 2024 that will use a format where teams can be promoted and demoted.

“It means that we have to up our game if you want to play in this league that continues to grow and advance,” Windsor TFC general manager Vancho Cirovski said.

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League 1 Ontario began play on the men’s side in 2014 with the women’s side following a year later.

The men’s team, which began play as the Windsor Stars, has competed since the first season with Tecumseh SC joining the women’s side last season.

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“Overall, from a soccer perspective, it’s what people across Canada have asked for,” Tecumseh SC head coach Daniel Mendonca said. “This is a bold move.”

Under the new format, teams competing in the Premier Division this season and in 2023 will see points earned over those two years aggregated. Points in 2022 will count at 75 per cent and in 2023 at 100 per cent.

From there, 12 men’s teams and 10 women’s team will move into the Premier Division while the remaining teams will start the 2024 campaign a rung lower in the Championship Division. Teams coming in after that season will start in League2 and must earn promotion by finishing atop of the division.

As for those in the other divisions, a last-place finish will force relegation to a lower division while a first-place finish will earn promotion.

“The demand to be part of League1 has grown so much over the last number of years,” League1 Ontario executive chairman Dino Rossi said in a release. “We’ve achieved a degree of scale that allows for this type of structure to be put in place at this time.

“The 2024 plan is needed and will drive better and more meaningful competition across each tier. This is an exciting next step, focused on the growth of the game and the depth of talent and potential talent in Ontario.”

With talk of a possible Canadian Premier League team in the city in the coming years, Cirovski feels this could help boost the area’s profile for attracting players.

“I’m a competitor, so we’re going to try and play ourselves in the premier division,” Cirovski said. “If not, you’ll be stuck in the championship (division) or division two and then, are you creating a buzz? We want to draw kids to this town from all over Canada and around the globe to make this a hotbed of soccer.”

Tecumseh SC got its first taste of League1 action last year while having to deal with COVID-19 issues, but got a taste of action and a foothold into the pyramid system.

“It allowed us to get our feet we last year, but this is a big deal for us because we’re one of the longstanding clubs once the changes occur,” Mendonca said. “League1 is the highest level of (women’s) soccer in Canada. With the season going from April to August, we’re hoping that local players in the NCAA or in U SPORTS (outside of Windsor), who might have had to stay away to play and stay competitive, will have a place to play.”

Windsor TFC is set to begin tryouts in early February and Tecumseh SC later in the month, but Cirovski says the news has already created a buzz.

“We’re getting calls from everywhere to come and play,” Cirovski said. “It creates more intensity and competition and creates excitement.”

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