Look. Being a fan of the most successful team in CanPL history is probably a blast. I can’t say because I am here as an unbiased professional (Just kidding, it totally is). But there is so much more to the professional soccer community in Canada right now. So here is my attempt to to highlight the teams that are making a difference, and are trying to be leaders off the pitch, not just on it.
There is a Wider Community
First up is Atletico Ottawa and their work with Shelter Movers. The club has decided to highlight a social issue that was declared an epidemic in the City of Ottawa, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The initiative includes the release of an excellent third jersey, complete with artwork by young children who have been able to get to safety with the assistance of the volunteer run organization. Proceeds from the sale of the jersey go to help this amazing organization.
In speaking to CPL website Fernando Lopez had this to say:
“At Atlético Ottawa, we are committed to being a positive force in our community, and our partnership with Shelter Movers Ottawa is a perfect example of this. We recognize the crucial role that Shelter Movers Ottawa plays in supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, and we are proud to continue championing their efforts to provide essential services and support to those in need. This partnership is an excellent opportunity for us to give back and make a meaningful impact in our community.”
I mean that is bigger than the game. Good job Ottawa.
The West Coast Community
On the west coast a beautiful little footy community is flourishing across levels. With TSS Rovers shocking the soccer scene against Valour in the Canadian Championships, it gave Pacific FC an opportunity to step up. And they did. With the fan-owned Rovers having to cover unexpected costs in the tournament as a result of hosting a game, this could have become a real downer. But the little club set about doing things to make it work, like letting folks donate money for tickets to locals who otherwise couldn’t go to the big game.
Pacific saw that initiative and stepped up with their as per the CPL Website:
“As part of the Celebration of BC soccer, TSS FC Rovers supporters will be able to purchase tickets in the away stands at Starlight Stadium through a special link, with $5 from each ticket purchased going back to their club. Away supporters who cannot make the game in person will have the opportunity to purchase tickets that will subsequently be donated to local charities, with $5 from those purchases also going back to TSS Rovers. The link to purchase those tickets is here!”
Class! Oftentimes we forget the great work it takes at the lower levels to create the great footy we are all enjoying now at the highest levels in Canada. Great job of community building PFC.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
What About the East Coast?
Sometimes I am happy that I don’t always nail my deadlines. This is one of those times. Recently news came out of Halifax that I might have missed for this story originally. Namely that HFX Wanderers are working on making Football (soccer for the rest of us) more accessible to locals through Football 4 Everyone. Outstanding!
You can see, and participate in, their goals here.
But basically they are trying to get more balls and equipment into the local community. They are trying to get more people, and especially kids, out to their first professional footy game. They are trying to make a difference.
Cheers to Halifax. We always knew you were awesome, but Derek Martin and his team just keep raising the bar.
The Champs Are getting Stuff Done Too
I know, I know, you thought just for once I might not take the opportunity to make this all about the Champs at Forge FC. But you were wrong!
Forge makes the list today because of something great they are doing within their business. Specifically, championing diversity.
Forge FC recently made Jelani Smith their Director of Football Operations. That makes him the highest ranking Person of Colour (POC) in the CPL as far as I can tell. Was this move simply some kind of optics move to make the club look good? After speaking to Jelani on the Hammer of Sparx Pod (shameless plug) I can answer that with an emphatic, no.
Jelani is aware of the responsibility he has taken on for his team, and also for the larger Black community in soccer and beyond. He, along with others like, Marvin Okello in Halifax, are giving the younger generation of Black and POC soccer players proof of the opportunities now available in pro soccer in Canada. Opportunities they helped forge (not sorry). And in diversity lies our strength. I mean we are many, we are one, right?
And Forge followed that up with the promotion of Nicole Demers. She is now the VP of Business Operations. And it did not come easily. Over a decade and a half spent with the TiCats/Forge organization led to this opportunity. She is the highest-ranking female on any team in the CPL, and that is no small feat. With her efforts on the Spark Summit she aimed to tackle gender inequality in professional sports, something she demonstrates daily in her work.
While we are all hoping for a professional women’s league in Canada, Nicole is doing some of the tangible things that help women progress in traditionally male-dominated spaces. That can’t be easy, but it is necessary. Good job Forge. Great work Nicole.
Keep It Coming
So we can see that organizations in the CPL are about more than just Wins and Losses. I know I didn’t mention all the teams here, but I will continue to update the readers on every team’s initiatives as the season progresses. But as you can see, there are many ways to be a leader in the CPL. Lets keep it coming.
Now if only we had more news from the Head Office on a Collective Agreement, it would be an even better next article…