This month the Ottawa Fury coaching staff are busy signing players, building the squad, and in the past couple of weeks we have see the addition of two more Canadian players. One of those players, Andres Fresenga, was called to the Canadian National Team’s first training camp of the year this month. The other, our first goalie Marcel DeBellis, is only 22 but already has experience playing in Europe.
There is a lot to be excited about in this news. First, the fact that Soccer Canada is interested in players like Andres Fresenga who are being named to the Fury is a testament to the quality of player that is being brought into the organization. The Fury organization is doing well in building interest and hype around the team but for the average sports fan it may be difficult to get excited about the team especially since no one has seen them play. For soccer fans, its easy to see the vision of the coaching staff but a casual supporter may be tentative to throw their full support behind a team they have never seen in action. The support of the National program is huge for the Fury organization, a sort of stamp of approval. An assurance that the team will, in fact, be competitive and worth a season ticket.
Second, the fact that young players, like Marcel DeBellis, currently in Europe are excited to come back to Canada to play and build their careers is proof that Canada is becoming a soccer destination for many. It’s no longer necessary for players to go abroad to have a solid and successful soccer career. With professional teams in five major Canadian cities, and development programs all across the country, the beautiful game is making its way into the heart of Canada. Canadian players are being developed earlier and with more care and are consequently more successful here at home, and also in leagues abroad. Being a soccer player in North America is now a dream that young Canadian athletes can have. Small communities are spending more time, effort and money maintaining outdoor soccer fields and building indoor venues. Kids can now play outdoor in the summer and indoor in the winter. Adult leagues are popping up in every city and town across the country, and with it the love of the game.
The evidence is clear. Soccer is growing in Canada. When I was growing up, soccer was not a visible sport. In fact, I didn’t even play soccer when I was a child. I played baseball in the summer and did figure skating in the winter. I grew up watching hockey, making Stanley Cup playoff brackets in our basement and was oblivious to the fact that there was a Canadian Soccer League and that the Canadian National Team went to the World Cup in 1986. I grew up with heroes like Paul Coffey, Pavel Bure, and Wayne Gretzky. I didn’t know players like Pele, or Maradona even existed. Now, with the professional Canadian teams the beautiful game has become more visible and prominent in this country. With games being broadcast on major Canadian television networks, Canadian youngsters can have heroes like Patrice Bernier, Dwayne DeRosario, Russel Teibert, and Ottawa native Eddie Edward. It’s exciting to see who will be the one to look up to on this Ottawa Fury team.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a long way to go. Obviously, the dream in the hearts of every footie fan is for our nation to participate in the World Cup, and there is a lot more work to do for that to happen. But we’re getting there, slowly but surely. And the Ottawa Fury FC is positive step in that direction.
Written by: Kendra Lee