Family notwithstanding, there has not been anything that I have loved longer than football (soccer).
I’ve loved bands for 20 years.
I’ve loved co-op video games for at least 10 years.
My love of footie has been around for 25 years or so.
It all started on a warm sunny Sunday night when I talked my mom into dropping me off at Brian Timmis Stadium to watch the local powerhouse Hamilton play league powerhouse Vancouver 86ers. Can’t remember who won, who scored or who played, but that was it.
I was hooked. The Hamilton Steelers were my heroes. Soccer was my sport.
I went to as many games as I could for a kid with no money. It was a blessing to live 10 blocks away from the stadium as I probably could go as long as I didn’t bug anyone for a lift.
From there, the cult and mythos of the Steelers was born. The second best team 4 seasons consecutively. It was tragedy, drama, adventure all rolled into one. My heros weren’t Maradona or Pele or Beckenbauer, but rather Alex Bunbury, Dino Perri and Lucio Ianiero. All three played for the Canadian Men’s National Team and I SAW THEM PLAY IN PERSON!
The sad part is that kids will very likely never have that feeling again. Today, premier league matches are easily available on Canadian television every weekend and if you have the money, ALL games are available. If you’re internet savvy, any game is available to watch.
The ability to grow a local legend in your backyard is nearly impossible. Any talent will eventually walk away for greener pastures and small clubs cannot afford to retain their talents even at a small scale.
Based only upon my opinions as an armchair sports business nerd, a soccer fan and a realist, an academy based professional system is the only means forward as a viable investment model (both talent and financial) to survive as a club (and not just as a franchise) and as a genuine part of their community.
I would like to see kids one day find the civic pride in a football club of their own. See kids and young men become members of the national team and be celebrated for their accomplishments outside of the clubs confines. I would like to see a club be a beacon of promise of good football and be a benchmark of where players go to become experts in their craft.
So if anyone has $30 million and a philanthropic streak about them, I have some ideas…