Home Canadian Soccer The Association Large number of players, agents already making inquiries about CanPL

Large number of players, agents already making inquiries about CanPL

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A couple of weeks ago, I was in a downtown Regina bar with about 60 soccer supporters, attending an information session with Canadian Premier League President Paul Beirne and investors looking to bring a team to Saskatchewan.

As I tweeted out some of the information being passed on, I started getting messages from players who hail from outside of Canada. They asked about trials. They asked about how many internationals would be allowed on Canadian teams. About how to get into Canada or, in some cases, get back into Canada.

This week, I asked Beirne if he is getting a lot of inquiries from agents and players.

He said there has been “tons of interest.” Word of the Canadian Premier League is not only spreading in this country, but in other parts of the world. That’s fairly impressive for a league that, as Beirne admitted in Saskatchewan,  “hasn’t been announced yet”

We know CanPL will have an appeal for Canadian players who are looking for playing time. But, make no mistake, there will be an appeal to some foreign players as well.

We also know that its main competitors for talent will be USL, NASL and MLS. Players who might be in those leagues at the moment, or could be looking towards those leagues, will have another option on the continent. And, I think some people might be surprised how well CanPL will compete with the U.S.-based leagues for talent.

I can only speak to the non-Canadian players I have known in my time covering pro soccer in Canada. But, from these sources, I understand why Canada is an attractive destination to some. There is also a group of foreign players who have played in Canada in the past, be it MLS, USL or NASL, who are looking to come back to this country.

Why?

The family likes Canada: At FC Edmonton of the NASL, we have seen two Northern Irish internationals, Albert Watson and Daryl Fordyce, get their Canadian permanent residency paperwork, and they are on the path to getting their passports. There are foreign players out there who aren’t just looking for places to play for a couple of years; they are looking to settle in Canada long-term. Their partners want to work in Canada, they want to raise their kids in Canada.

Another thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is Canada’s taxpayer-funded healthcare system. Playing in Canada means a player doesn’t have to deal with private health-insurance charges, and that mitigates some of the drawbacks of the Canadian dollar being valued lower than the Yankee buck. This is especially true for players with families. It’s one thing to go from contract to contract in the U.S. when you are single, but when you have to provide for a family, the potential healthcare costs rise. Canada to the rescue!

I met someone in Canada: We have seen many Canadian players go over to Europe, get married and have kids there. Well, there are cases where a foreign player has come here and met his ideal match. He’ll meet someone, fall in love, want to build a future. And the players aren’t making enough money in North American soccer so their loved ones can quit their jobs and barnstorm with them. Getting back to Canada and their partners can be a draw.

Wants a new start: Canada has long been a place sought out by people looking for a fresh start. A Canadian side could be a great place for a player looking to re-establish his career. And there’s a nice feeling of being able to walk the streets of your home team’s city and not have everyone recognize you. I’d equate this to the NHLers I’ve met who prefer playing in southern, non-traditional hockey markets. To those players, not being recognized outside of the arena is a plus.  

Trump: The longer President Trump remains in power, the more polarized America becomes. And for some players, being able to stay north of the border for an entire season, in an era of heightened security and border checks, well that’s a plus. As well, it’s safe to say that the current President of the United States isn’t doing a great international sell job on behalf of his nation. Soccer, being such an international game, is likely one of the pursuits least affected by rising xenophobia and isolationist thinking. But, North American leagues have quietly been checking their players, making sure none will have hassles when entering America. A Canadian league that promises equal opportunity and a simple process for working in the country will be a draw.

The Canadian Premier League won’t be for every player. But for foreign players looking for life changes, to build lives after soccer, who want more out of their playing experiences than a paycheque, Canada may prove to be a very attractive destination.

Beirne’s phone is ringing. And that’s the proof you need.

 

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