2021 has been an unprecedented year for Canadian soccer. The Canadian National Women’s Team won Olympic gold in Tokyo and the Canadian National Men’s Team not only reached the final Concacaf FIFA World Cup qualifying phase (the “Octagon”), but currently lead the group after two extraordinary victories in Edmonton this month.
This past weekend, CF Montreal defeated Toronto FC to win the Voyageurs Cup and advance to the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, along with Canadian Premier League club Forge FC, who are preparing for a two-legged Concacaf League semifinal with Motagua of Honduras this week.
But the last significant Canadian soccer event of this calendar year will take place on December 5 as Forge FC faces Pacific FC in the CPL Championship Final, looking to claim a third consecutive North Star Shield.
I’ve been fortunate to call 35 CPL games for national broadcaster One Soccer this season and it has been an absolute delight to witness the growth of the league in just three short years, two of which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
The technical brilliance of some of the players and the overall quality of the league has impressed me to no end. Natural rivalries are developing across the country and the competitive balance among the eight teams is high. And there was more positive news earlier this month when a 9th franchise, to be situated in Vancouver, was announced.
I’ve been around the game a long time and I’ve seen my share of sketchy operators and failed ventures, but my hat’s off to the CPL and Canada Soccer Business for delivering a first rate product with so many dedicated and professional people involved, from all of the club front office staffs to the exciting, young players on the field.
And Mediapro Canada/OneSoccer also deserve credit for committing to unprecedented coverage of the game in this country, providing the resources and the personnel to deliver the memorable moments we’ve all witnessed the past few months.
For decades, Canada has lacked an identity as a soccer nation primarily because it has lacked a stable, properly-funded professional soccer league but the CPL has now achieved that and, as it continues to grow & thrive, the hope is that it will begin to supply our National Teams with many prospects who have cut their teeth at the pro level in the CPL and have gone on to greater achievements.
This has truly been a remarkable year for Canadian soccer but imagine what 2022 could bring! A return to a FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years for our #CanMNT, qualification to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup for our #CanWNT, the development of a national professional women’s soccer league? All of these scenarios are possible because the efforts of many dedicated individuals and corporate representatives are converging to drive Canadian soccer to the forefront of the sporting landscape in this country.
As a long time promoter of and advocate for Canadian soccer, I applaud each and every one of you. Let us celebrate our successes. Our time has come! Finally!