A greeting from Western New York, soccer fans, my name is Michael Schieber and I’ll do my best here to represent my league, the Buffalo District Soccer League (BDSL). This past summer after my 8th year playing across 3 different teams, I was elected to my first term as BDSL second Vice President. I’m truly grateful to have earned the trust of the managers in our league to represent them in this position. I know I speak for our 4 other board members, Bryan Staniszeski (President) Eric Kolber (1st VP), Ken Kirk (Treasurer), and Jay Morgan (Secretary) when I say we are proud of the direction and commitment to the league our teams have shown.Welcome any and all to check us out at bdsl.org as you read along.
What is the Buffalo District Soccer league?
Well, since the 1950’s our league has been a fixture in the area as the biggest amateur soccer league in our region. We are home to the oldest running amateur soccer cup tournament in the United States with the Tehel Cup. It dates back to 1925 and it’s really an honor to continue that tradition today. Our 11 week season runs from the beginning of May to the first few weeks in August, to make sure all of the local collegiate talent can participate. Our game days are on Sundays while the Tehel Cup matches take place on Thursdays. Over the years we have grown from a single division to our current 5 division format with an over 35 division as well. This 2015 season we’ll have 63 teams across those 5 divisions, making it our biggest year ever in terms of both players and teams. Along with that I’d say the leagues talent level has never been higher nor the anticipation for the season has ever been amped up this much. The fact that Non League America has taken notice is a testament to where we are as a league. I mean they can correct me if I’m wrong here but I’m pretty sure we are one of the largest pure local amateur leagues in the US now. We’ll register over 1,300 players this year. Of our 63 teams 52 of them maintain active twitter accounts which is insane seeing as how we had under 15 just last year and again we are purely an area adult league. Because of this boom, we’ve been able to build stat tracking, a transfer tracker, and some other really add some cool features to our website.Going back to the structure of our league we have 5 main competitive divisions. Starting highest to lowest we have Premier (12 teams), Championship (12 teams), 1st (14 teams), 2nd (14 teams), and 3rd (11 teams).
We have a promotion and relegation system in place to keep the competitive balance. The two teams who make the playoff final of their respective division move up a group while the two last place regular season teams move down. New teams to the league are subject to placement by our board and are rarely placed higher then 2nd to start. With this process in place we’ve really been able to keep the competition high across all 5 divisions. I believe the competitive balance this system creates is the key reason as to why the league has grown.
With Tehel Cup the format has changed here and there over the years. Currently we opened the Cup up to all teams in BDSL with a 63 team NCAA style bracket tourney. A double blind draw sets the single elimination brackets for the tournament. From the current 63 team list there are 8 previous Tehel Cup champs looking to hoist it again.
As for famous alumni our league has seen many semi-pros (Asani Samuels one among many many others.) and even MLS starters (Bobby Shuttleworth) play in our league. We have former NFL stars (Kurt Schulz & Steve Christie) and an US futsal Goal Cup winner (Steve Butcher). Our league’s best teams include the BSC Raiders (defending Premier Champ and Active All Time Tehel Cup Winner), SoHo FC, and the up coming Amherst Sharpshooters and Buffalo United SS. I’d say the current 12 teams in our Premier division is the deepest its ever been with every roster containing collegiate talent from all over WNY along with NPSL and PDL players.
To me this only the start of where we can go. We are in the early stages of applying to become the 12th USA Amatuer Elite League in the USA. With that we has goals of our best team repping us in the Region I tournaments and possibly even the US Open Cup qualifying. Nothing is off the table. As we grow so will our goals and ambitions. All of the leagues success though is due to the teams and players in the entire BDSL. The league will match their commitment level step for step as we increase the growth and love of soccer in our region. So be warned Region I. BDSL is on the rise. Looking forward to the future. For those who want to be apart in our area or abroad go to bdsl.org or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Non League America for the opportunity here and best of luck to all teams across the States as the summer soccer season gets underway.