Canadian Premier League gearing up for their first season

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author: Jacob nelson | staff writer

New Canadian league breaks ground / Flickr via Marktci

New professional soccer league looks to start off strong

We’ve known for a while now that Canada was getting a new professional soccer league called the Canadian Premiere League.  

On May 6, 2017, Soccer Canada confirmed the CPL’s membership along with their first two founding teams in Hamilton and Winnipeg. A little under a year later, the first CPL commissioner, David Clanachan, the former President and COO of Tim Hortons Canada, was named. From then on, it was all about building a strong executive team for league and focusing on cities the league feels will bring the best competitive advantage to the pitch, according to league release.  

With a size of seven clubs, the CPL is on the smaller side of professional soccer leagues throughout the globe. Being the first year, the league wants to make sure they understand their market and formulate strategies appropriate to their main consumer. Forge FC located in Hamilton, Ontario and Pacific FC located on Vancouver Island, B.C. will be hosted the first two home openers of the season, on opposite ends of the nation. 

When asked about the significance of hosting the first game of a new league Pacific FC coach Michael Silberbauer told canpl.ca, “It is part of history, but once you’re in it, you have to do your job… Only after do you sit down and think about the fact that you’ve made history.”  

Its no doubt that the pressure has been a consideration for both Forge and Pacific. Another issue accompanying the pressures of being the first games is not knowing how the well the players will handle the travel. Coach Stephen Hart will travel from Nova Scotia approximately 4,500 kilometers to play the first contest against Pacific FC.  

“None of us know how the players will travel yet,” Hart said. “That’s the biggest adaptation to playing in this league – how well the players will travel. We have to educate our players on acclimatizing themselves quickly and how to go about it, how they’re nutrition relates to travel and all of that and adapting to time zones.” 

Other teams are expressing more excitement than worry about the first few games of the season. A week into the season York9 Coach will host the Hamilton forge, welcoming them to Alumni Field.  

“It’s always special winning a derby game,” York9 coach Jimmy Brennan said  to canpl.ca. “In Europe, I played in a lot of derby matches, where the opposition was in the same town, so I love the rivalry here, since Hamilton is not far from where we are. It’s a great rivalry. These are the big games that you want to be involved in, the passionate games.”   

Rob Gale,coach of the Winnipeg Valour expressed his excitement to canpl.ca for those in Manitoba who already know about the province’s history with the sport  

“Every soccer fan wants to cheer on one of their own and we’ll have quite a few of them representing us on that day,” Valour coach Rob Gale said. “It’s going to be an exciting time for all soccer fans, young and old, who know that there’s a long and rich history of soccer (in Manitoba) over the years, and we’re delighted to be reigniting that.” 

And with most of the excitement happening on the pitch, everyone will have their eyes turned to all the new players each team has spent the last few months signing. So far, 98 players are signed to the CPL and that number will only grow as the league grows over the next few years. This is Canadas opportunity to put themselves in the international spotlight that soccer commands. While there are a few international players signed to teams, most of the league will be made up of Canadian talent.  

While it was advertised that anyone had a shot at making one of the clubs through open camps and tryouts, there is also a CPL-U Sports draft the league will use to select talent from universities across Canada. 

An article on the Canadian Premiere Leagues website explains the importance of this partnership as detailed by the Globe and Mail. 

“This truly unique partnership between the CPL and U-Sports will provide student-athletes with an opportunity to be signed to a CPL-U SPORTS Developmental Contract. This will allow an athlete with one to four years of eligibility remaining to play with a CPL club, while preserving their eligibility, in the spring and summer before returning to U SPORTS competition.”  

Commissioner David Clanachan also expressed his excitement over the new draft. 

“We are thrilled to announce this ground-breaking partnership between the CPL and U SPORTS… We knew giving the top university players in our country an opportunity to play professionally while continuing to maintain their education and U SPORTS status was important. This allows us to continue our journey to create a pathway for our homegrown players to have the opportunity to play professionally in Canada.” 

Of course, a league like this would not be possible without key partnerships and the CPL’s key partnership is with Volkswagen.  

“Volkswagen is a world-renowned brand and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Canadian Premier League family as a founding partner with exclusive automotive sponsor rights. Volkswagen Canada President and CEO Daniel Weissland and their passionate team fully understand the vision for our league and the impact of joining us at the ground level and helping to shape this exciting new era for Canada’s beautiful game,” said David Clanachan, Commissioner, Canadian Premier Leagu in a release on their website.  

So how can you keep up with the CPL? Well they have released their new app, which allows you to select your favourite team and receive updates on the operations and day-to-day activities of the team. The CPL website also provides a whole host of information about schedules, signings, and interviews with teams. All media rights have been sold to MEDIAPRO for the next 10 years, the same group that manages the rights to France and Spain’s top leagues. Global streaming will be available along with more media outlets to come soon. 

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