Best of the Rest Archive

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Plastic Pitch a reality!

Still messing around with fonts! I'm leaning towards the one in Avenir, on top. Thoughts?

Still messing around with fonts! I’m leaning towards the one in Avenir, on top. Thoughts?

OK, as the Kickstarter campaign went past the $10,000 mark today, it became official. We’re committed to the Plastic Pitch e-magazine.

Look for our first issue to focus on “lost” Canadians, a look at players who, for various reasons, stepped out of the limelight and are now trying to re-establish themselves. We’ll also take a minute-by-minute look at Canadian in MLS since 1996. Read the rest of this entry »

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4

Plastic Pitch to become a reality, Umbro Canada joins as premier sponsor

u94370While our Kickstarter campaign (CLICK HERE) still shows us short of our target, I can announce that the dream to launch a PLASTIC PITCH e-magazine will become reality.

Today, Plastic Pitch welcomes Umbro Canada, the official supplier to Canada’s national teams and many, many youth soccer clubs across the country, as a premier sponsor. We’re proud to partner with Umbro. Of course, we’re all familiar with the iconic brand as the supplier of Canada’s national teams. But, as a supplier to many grassroots programs, Umbro is also supplying the young players who will become our national-teamers of the future.

Thanks to Umbro’s belief in the project, soccer supporters in Canada will have the chance to enjoy our new magazine, which will go in depth to feature stories you won’t find anywhere else. PLASTIC PITCH won’t be interested in following the mainstream stories that are covered (quite well) in the daily papers. We don’t need to give you the umpteenth Defoe feature, but we will ask what the signing of stars at TFC will mean for their Canadian-player development plans. We won’t chase down Designated Player rumours, but we will look at Canadians who are making less than $40,000 a year in order to chase their dreams of playing professionally.

We won’t write about the Premiership race, but we will care about the Finnish, German, Israeli and Hong Kong clubs where Canadians are playing. And, most importantly, when we write about MLS and NASL, we won’t be writing about how awesome Graham Zusi or Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan are. Our goal is to probe the league’s Canadian content.
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9

The 11: Gone on vacation, see you in 2014

Kids playing soccer, Rudabanya, Hungary, 2000.

Kids playing soccer, Rudabanya, Hungary, 2000.

If you’re reading this, you’re a reader of The 11. I purposely didn’t put any tags on this post so chances would be greater that it would be seen mainly by the people who visit the site on a regular basis, and not the people who may have been led here by an SEO-baited Google search.

For those who come to the site, thank you. In 2010, when the site was founded, I wanted to make good on a pledge to be an honest platform for Canadian soccer. The lifeblood of the site is to tell the stories of Canadian teams and Canadian players. You can go to plenty other places to find the latest rumours about Arsenal or Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. I didn’t want The 11 to be a reinvention of the wheel.

But, even though the site is more popular now than at any time before, I feel that it’s time to take a break. It’s not the end: But The 11 will be on hiatus until at least the opening of NASL training camps in February. I will still be doing my freelance print work for the likes of Inside Soccer, but no more daily grind for now.

Three straight years of broadcasting and writing about the game (and, considering the time spent at Sun Media before this, covering Toronto FC and Canadian national teams, and then my time with Edmonton Aviators, and various freelance work… well, it’s more like 17 years, not three) have been wonderful, but it also asks a lot of when it comes to time. Checking scores when you’re supposed to be on holiday with the family. Sneaking in a phone interview with a coach right between your kids’ bath time and story time.

There are weekends I need to be spending with my family more, and with the game less.
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0

Three Canadian teams take soccer bronzes at the Maccabiah Games

The Canadian men's team in Israel.

The Canadian men’s team in Israel.

Canada enjoyed its best-ever finish at the recently completed Maccabiah Games in Israel.

The Games bring together the top Jewish athletes from around the world; and, in the football tournaments, Canada was able to take achieve three podium finishes. Canada’s men won bronze, and the women’s program and the U-18 women’s team also finished third in their respective tournaments.

The men’s team featured former Toronto FC and University of Toronto product Kilian Elkinson, Yale graduate Brad Rose, who took a stab at making the USL last year, and 45-year-old Jason Mausberg, a veteran of the games. Colin Jacques, a Simon Fraser University forward, was reunited with Koch for the Maccabiah Games. Ben Ur, the keeper from Dalhousie University who was also invited to the USL combine, manned the goal for the Canadian side

Also on the men’s team was Jordan Kalk, grandson of South African football legend Freddie Kalk, who scored more than 250 goals in domestic league play and was linked to moves to the English league.

The group was coached by Alan Koch, who led Simon Fraser University to the NCAA-2 final four last season, and is currently putting the Clan through its preseason paces. The Clan leaves for Costa Rica next week to play a couple of pro teams as the squad prepares for another season representing Canada in the American collegiate circuit.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Koch. “I’m not Jewish, I’m not part of the Jewish community, but it was a tremendous experience to be part of the group. People told me it was going to be an unbelievable experience — and it was that, and more. We were lucky to be based in Jerusalem, and to be able to explore the history of the city, the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, the Arab quarter, it was amazing.”
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0

The force is strong in these ones: Brovsky inspires Impact teammates and Jebi Knights to aid orphans

Impact vice-president Richard Legendre, top left, poses with Jebi Knight Benoit Labonte and his family.

Impact vice-president Richard Legendre, top left, poses with Jebi Knight Benoit Labonte and his family.

Montreal Impact fans are known for turning up, sometimes in great numbers, to support their boys on the road.

But, the bulk of the Impact supporters in the stands when the team goes on the road Aug. 21 to face CD Heredia will likely be from a little closer to Guatemala City than to La Belle Province.

If things pan out, some 300 of Jeb Brovsky’s friends and acquaintances, most of them orphans, will be attending. The popular and socially concerned defender met the youngsters through the work of his non-profit organization, Peace Pandemic, which he founded during his college days and has used since as an instrument to promote peace and human rights, particularly for children and women. He’s traveled to India and Guatemala during the last two off-seasons to put his opinions into action.

Capturing the Amway Canadian Championship meant a CONCACAF Champions League berth for the Impact. When the Guatemala City side was announced as an opening round opponent, a light went above the Colorado-born defender’s head.

“When Jeb learned that the Impact were going to play in Guatemala he tweeted, ‘Why don’t we invite the 600 youngsters I met?’” said Benoit Labonte, a ranking member of The Jebi Knights, an organization with the motto “Go Impact The World.” On its website, the group describes itself as “Peaceful hooligans becoming Guardians of Peace and Justice.”

Brovsky’s tweet became the impetus for Operacion Quetzel.
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0

Quebec Soccer Federation lifts turban ban

quebec colourAs had been expected for the better part of the last 24 hours, the Quebec Soccer Federation has lifted its ban on turbans.

The QSF made the announcement Saturday; and that should bring an end to a skirmish that took on an ugly political life over the last week.

The QSF said it welcomed FIFA’s ruling that was issued on Friday (CLICK HERE) that said that it does indeed have a temporary measure in place to allow turbans on the field of the play, as long as they are worn in a “professional manner” and are the same colour as the jersey.

Quebec has been the centre of the turban controversy since April, when the Canadian Soccer Association issued a directive that said all member associations must allow turbans, patkas and keski. That directive was really a direct message to the QSF, as all of the other provincial associations already allow the headgear.
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2

The Quebec Soccer Federation deserves the silent treatment from the CSA

CanadaLogoThere is someone that Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani can look to for guidance as he faces the biggest political crisis since he took the reins of the organization.

Ironically, it’s a Montrealer. A man from Quebec. Actually, a man from Montreal who brought life to one of the most enduring fictional characters of his time.

Yes, William Shatner as Captain Kirk.

On Wednesday, the Quebec Soccer Federation announced the results from its emergency conference call — that it would stand by its decision to ban players from wearing turbans, patkas and keski on the fields of play in the province. On Monday, the CSA board voted to suspend the QSF because of its insistence to continue the ban, despite a directive from Ottawa that demanded that religious headwear be allowed on the field.
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0

All about the politics: QSF getting pressure from both sides on turban ban issue

Joey Saputo

Joey Saputo

To speak about Quebec Soccer Federation’s turban ban as simply a turban ban is, well, yesterday’s news.

The pressure on the Quebec Soccer Federation is coming from both sides. The provincial premier, who leads the separatist Parti Quebecois, stated Tuesday that the Canadian Soccer Association had no right to suspend the QSF, and that the provincial soccer federation has the dominion over the provinces’s footballing affairs. Premier Pauline Marois said that the CSA should butt out.

Sounds almost like a call for the QSF to willfully separate itself from the CSA.

On Monday, the CSA board voted to suspend the QSF, which two Sundays ago decided to uphold its band of turbans, patkas and keski on the fields of play in Quebec. The QSF ignored a CSA directive to lift the ban that was issued in April. Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada to ban the religious headgear.

But, on Tuesday, the powers with some real political capital in Quebec didn’t sound at all apologetic about the QSF’s decision to ignore the CSA. Marois gave the QSF a big slap on the back and gave the group a public endorsement.
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2

CSA takes action: Quebec Soccer Federation suspended

quebec colourThe Quebec Soccer Federation didn’t relent on its ban of religious headwear. On Monday night, the Canadian Soccer Association decided to suspend the provincial organization, the latest step in an escalation of hostilities between Quebec and Ottawa.

The Canadian Soccer Association’s board of directors voted that it had made the move to ban the QSF. The announcement was made Monday evening.

“The Canadian Soccer Association has requested on 6 June that the Quebec Soccer Federation reverse its position on turbans/patkas/keski with no resolution,” said Victor Montagliani, President of the Canadian Soccer Association, in a release issued by the CSA. “The Quebec Soccer Federation’s inaction has forced us to take measures in order to ensure soccer remains accessible to the largest number of Canadians.”

Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that bans players from wearing turbans, patkas or keski on the field of play. In April, the CSA issued a directive that the religious headgear should be allowed — a motion that was aimed directly at Quebec. But, two Sundays ago, the QSF decided instead to uphold its ban and flout the CSA directive.
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0

The turban debate: QSF using soccer’s version of the Notwithstanding Clause

quebec colourOn Thursday evening, the Canadian Soccer Association tried to flex its muscle.

The CSA issued a release reasserting its support for allowing players with turbans, patkas and keski on soccer fields across Canada. It was a not-so-gentle reminder to the Quebec Soccer Federation; reminding the renegade factions in La Belle Province that the directive to allow the religious headwear on Canadian pitches was made by the CSA in April.

That directive was made in response to Quebec’s ongoing refusal to allow the headwear for official games in the province. It is the only association in Canada to have such a ban in place. Last Sunday, the QSF reaffirmed its support for the ban, defying the CSA directive.

“As an unequivocal majority of our membership agrees with our approach and has safe instituted it within their respective soccer communities, we expect the Quebec Soccer Federation to do the same,” said Victor Montagliani, President of the Canadian Soccer Association, in the release issued by the CSA. “The Canadian Soccer Association is committed to making soccer accessible to the largest number of Canadians and will continue to work towards resolving this important and sensitive issue in a timely fashion.”
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