The success of Major League Soccer (MLS) team Toronto FC signifies plenty for a sport that was once not considered to be a part of Canadian culture.
Last year, Toronto FC lost in penalties to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS finals. The loss only meant one thing; Canadian soccer is growing at an alarming rate. Not only is the sport getting more popular, but youth players are showing exceptional passion and skills, which can only mean promising things for the sport.
Here in the forest city, one of the few organizations opening a pathway for young players is FC London. Players had a chance at showcasing their talents at City Wide Field Wednesday and Thursday, where Toronto FC scouts had gathered. The camp was set for players born anywhere between 2001 and 2006.
President and CEO of the club Ian Campbell says the reason soccer is growing is because of the enthusiasm surrounding it.
“You have soccer fans from overseas who brought that passion with them. I think what’s happening now is that their kids are on the fields with us. These are Canadian kids who are excited about Canadian soccer. They may still have passion for their heritage, but they live and breathe Canadian soccer”
Like any sport, skills are great to witness, but they do not make up a great player. When asked about what scouts look for in younger players, Ian added what the club does for the confidence and development of their players.
“The number one thing people underestimate in any sport, especially soccer, is the decision making. One of the things we do with all the players off the field are decision making drills and activities as well as puzzle solving. We find that it helps them make better decisions on the field. “
FC London’s success isn’t limited to youth teams. The women’s team is currently first in their league, while the men are fourth in their division.
With the success of FC London, TFC, and young soccer stars in Ontario, there is no doubt that soccer will soon integrate itself into Canadian culture.