Canadian Premier League: IT’S HERE! MERRY FOOTMAS EVERYONE!!
CPL Inaugural Match ~ Sat. Apr. 27th 1pm ET ~ Forge FC vs York9 ~ Tim Horton’s Field ~ CBC/OneSoccer
It’s finally here; the day that the new Canadian Premier League begins. And to be a bit dramatic about the whole thing, the day that Canada’s soccer journey really begins – or at least, that’s the hope (wish, dream) of every Canadian soccer fan, every kid that’s kicked a ball and tried to figure out how the hell they’re going to make a career out of it, everyone that’s wanted to see Canadian players shine bright on the world stage – I could go on, but this sentence is long enough. It’s been a very long time coming and many, many people have put in countless hours of work making it happen – to all of them, I say thank you.
I’M VERY EXCITED!! Sorry, had to get that out, I’ve been a bundle of nervous energy thinking about this day – honestly it won’t truly feel real until the whistle blows and the ball is kicked for the first time. Everything up until that will continue to feel surreal and like it’s all been a mass hallucination brought to life by the collective unconscious of Canadian soccer fans. There are a number of excellent analytical and extensive articles about the league, the teams, the players and so on for you to read – and I hope you’ve read them, because there’s some really good writing and information out there. This is more just my general thoughts and ramblings before the league kicks off, but I (we’ll) do our best to write about the league this year – let me know what you’d like us to discuss.
- Who ya got? Have you picked a team? You don’t have to of course, it can be fun to have some skin in the game – but being a neutral also has its charms. And of course it’s just the first year, there will be more teams coming, and with that comes more chances for personal fandom. Based on familial bonds and fondness of the city and so on, I’m going with Pacific FC as my team of choice. I love the city, I like what the team’s doing and who they’ve signed – and well, it was going to be hard for me to pick one of the two Ontario based teams. York9 was never a possibility, but I’ll admit to some Forge leanings – I’ve a number of friends involved, it’s a quick GO train trip, my favourite beer comes from Hamilton (hello Collective Arts), they signed Quillan Roberts, and orange is one of my favourite colours. But…I don’t feel any personal pull so I’m sticking with Pacific FC, at least for now.
- Quality: What will the footy be like quality wise? Probably both better and worse than what you want. I think that the teams will surprise all of us in many ways, and quality is one of them. Are we going to see the most beautiful soccer in the world? No. But will we see some good play? Hell yes we will. Everyone will need to be patient, very patient – this is a long game, not a quick fix and that’s the best thing for everyone.
- Mascots: OK, if you listen to our show you know our general thought on mascots. For the most part we dislike them – however, we do appreciate a truly fun, bizarre mascot. The current crop is OK – though they really missed an awesome opportunity in Edmonton, Eddie Rabbit is RIGHT THERE! I get that mascots aren’t for me and my friends, they’re for the kids and such – but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make fun of them.
- League expectations: The league will grow, both in size and quality – salaries will increase, profiles will be raised, stars will be born, teams will win and teams will lose. Will the Spring/Summer split season remain? A lot of that will depend on how quickly they expand, and how both the fans and the teams respond to the format. Personally I’m all for it – I don’t need a month and a half of playoffs (I have MLS for that), it means every game has meaning, and the year end championship rather exciting. And then there’s pro/rel – the league seems very big on this and that is a great thing. Not only does that make for exciting seasons, it speaks to a long term plan to build a foundation in Canadian soccer, one that promotes growth and development, and one that has aspirations to be the best. It will be slow going in the beginning, but decades of inactivity can’t be fixed all at once – but we can enjoy this very important step that’s being taken.
- Players: Some you know, some you don’t, but you will. I may be a fraction more knowledgeable than some, but there are many, many people that have (and do) pay far more attention to young Canadian players, just as there are those that pay almost no attention – and that’s OK! Now’s your chance to learn with the rest of us, discovery is fun! Who’s the next Atiba Hutchinson? You may watch him sometime in the next few months, or maybe next year, or the year after – but you’ll get to see him (and if we’re lucky, her when a women’s league is launched).
- Fans: Just like any other league everyone supports in their own way. Every club has a supporters group – I know a lot of these folk, they’re awesome so don’t be afraid to get involved. But that doesn’t have to be your thing, and that’s OK! But please do go to matches, show your support by being there – that means so much, especially as the league looks to find its feet.
- Have fun: No really, enjoy this. Have fun at the games, at the pub, online, watching with friends – but have fun. It’s not every day you get to witness the start of something that can change your country’s status on the global stage of the world’s most popular sport. Or, to be less grandiose, when do you get to be there for the start of something that will change how Canadians get to play our favourite sport? So have fun.
- Thank-you: To everyone that has worked tirelessly to make this happen. Whether you work for the league, helped form the league, write a blog, have a podcast, started a supporters group for a team that doesn’t exist, tweet, post, go to games for your local side, talk to players, are a player; wherever you are in this, thank-you. Thank-you for everything.
That’s it. Really what else is there to say? I could blather on, but I’ve already done that. I hope to see a lot of you tomorrow at the first ever Canadian Premier League match in Hamilton. And those I do see, I hope we laugh, and are giddy kids, and get a bit snarky (cause that’s who we are), and are maybe even a bit tearful – regardless I can’t wait to see you all! And for those that can’t make it, I’ll see you online, or at another match down the line. Either way I know that you’ll be watching! This is going to be great – MERRY FOOTMAS!!