Thanksgiving always make me reflective. As the Winnipeg open trial dates approach, I find myself thinking more about what the launch of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) means to me. I’m a Voyageur to my core, so in a broader sense, the development opportunity for Canadian players is exciting. But this isn’t a new idea; it is the fundamental reason that the league exists.
Lately, my thoughts linger on the impact that the league will have for fans. For most of my life, I took for granted how lucky I was to attend many high-level games. Living in Southern Ontario, a two-hour road trip delivered me to several TFC and Canadian National team games each year. I was also within a six-hour drive of two NWSL cities, so I was able to see the Portland Thorns play live four to five times a season. And then four years ago I moved to Winnipeg.
Since then, I’ve come to know Prairie pain, derived from a dearth of access to live games. I’ve attended several National Team games, but I’ve had to fly across (and outside of) the country for all but two of those. I’ve also attended as many WSA games as I could, but with a short PDL season where most games fall over a handful of weekends, that hasn’t amounted to much. Of course, my Voyageur friends in Saskatchewan have had it even worse, with no National Team games, no PDL teams, and at least one more year of waiting for their CPL team. The story is similar for fans living in most regions of this country, outside of Ontario and BC.
For supporters, there is nothing like spending 90 minutes standing and singing behind our team, win or lose. I miss experiencing this in a section full of other people just as passionate as I am, flags waving, smoke wafting, united in support of our team. In 6 months, thanks to the Canadian Premier League and Valour FC, we are going to get to do that regularly. Selfishly, this is what excites me the most about the league.
Over the last year and half, a small committee has worked closely to establish our group, but there are 100’s of people who are part of our Red River Rising family, patiently waiting to come out and stand together. I’m excited to know that you are with us and can’t wait to see your faces in the stands next April. Through events like our recent supporters match at Investors Group field, we have met some of you, and there will be more chances to come together over the next month.
On October 19th we are going to have our first chance to watch some footy together at Investors Group field during the Open Trials, and we would love it if you can join us. Save the date and we’ll keep you posted! And if you haven’t bought your membership yet, consider doing that soon so you can have first crack at standing with us next spring. It will be a busy month!