Canadians for Canadians
Canada is a funny place if you’re a football fan. You grow up surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who play the game, millions that care about events such as the Champions League and the World Cup, soccer facilities abound and yet, we are a culturally insignificant country as far as participation at the highest level of the sport go. Such and odd state of affairs. When I grew up football was scarce. You had to seek it out. Saturday mornings and coffee shops or soccer retailers in the back corner. Huge satellite dishes were marked in your brain, generally being found in areas of the city labelled by their ethnicity or heritage. Little Italy, the Portuguese club, Croatian Cultural Centre and so on. Those are the places where you found the football mad people and how you got your fix. Where you fell in love with football culture. The people you met had brought their passion from their original home land.
Today there is nothing but soccer available. From Major League Soccer to streaming to every channel under the sun. Everywhere one turns they can watch quality football. The access astonishes me. Kids all over are wearing Barcelona, Madrid, United and even Leicester jerseys. Every country represented in equal force including our own club team. However, our own Canadian football remains an enigma, our soccer culture is infantile at best, and we continue to fall further and further behind the global standard.
At our football club we sit on the side of the pitch and around our office discussing this exact question all the time. Hovering around the big screen as young international stars grace the pitches of the world we inevitably turn to the subject of developing tomorrow’s Canadian talent. How can it be possible? What will it take? Who will need to be involved? What are the hurdles? We go in circles but have been doing it so long now that the topic itself is like an old friend. Comforting to know we can still make a difference, frustrating in that we haven’t made the impact we want as yet.
To be fair to the few people reading this article [thanks for making it this far ], we could write pages and pages on the why but it is quite possible that many have their own opinion already or read reams of it before. We won’t bore you. For now we’ll simply concentrate on a minor solution.
A venue for Canadians players to play after the age of 17. To date our country is without a top league where our players can go and continue to develop. When we made the World Cup under legendary manager Tony Waiters, the old version of the NASL had a rule that mandated at least three North Americans had to be on the pitch at all times. Back then Canadian players were far superior to their American brothers in many ways and thus many of our national team were given substantial minutes on teams like the Whitecaps, the Cosmos, the Rowdies and more. They got to play with some of the best players on the planet. It was nearly impossible to not get better. With that came development and a very good run to the World Cup finals in Mexico.
Today we just do not have enough Canadians playing regularly at a higher level to make inroads on the world stage. Not news to you.
Now you’ll recall that a few too many beverages before the Tragically Hip concert led to the decision to purchase TSS FC Rovers, but the idea wasn’t an overnight consideration. An overnight mistake but not for lack of thinking about the state of our game. At TSS FC we have always said there needs to be more Canadians playing and a place for them to develop. Rovers is a small solution to the problem that plagues or country and why we are so adamant about our club being only for Canadians. Playing in the Premier Development League is at worst an answer for 22 players annually looking to continue to develop and grow in the game. They won’t all make it but they can continue to dream and it’s 22 more Canadians being given a shot. Who knows how many more young Canuck kids might grow up thinking there’s a chance for them too.
What’s a Canadian? Haven’t we had enough exclusion?
Canada. A melting pot. An invitation to all places on the planet to come and make yourself a new home. A place where you belong.
That’s our culture. You are welcomed.
TSS FC Rovers believes everyone matters. Every culture. Every type of Canadian. Be it born and raised with an anglo saxon last name, to those identifying with their lineage on Commercial Drive. From refugees to those that have pledged to become a Canadian by asking to be a citizen. In our club you belong. If you are here to make our country better simply as a person, then welcome. If you are here to strive to make our footballing nation better, well, we invite you to work hard, make the team, and we will be happy to have you can play for us.
If you can play for our national team or strive to do so...welcome. Your talent is wanted and ours is a platform for you to show your gifts. The Rovers is our expression of a solution to the problems that ail our soccer growth. Maybe you like us, maybe you don’t. That doesn’t matter though, in Canada you belong. With the Rovers, your voice matter regardless.
On May 5th the journey begins for the Rovers, with 3 Canadian coaches, an army of local volunteers and passionate staff, supporters that care for our growing soccer culture, and 22 Canadian players of all walks of life, of all colours and ethnicities, and all with the same dream; to help build a better soccer nation one match at time.
You belong. Your voice matters. Canadians for Canadians. The TSS FC Rovers Crew