A FAN’S OWN VOICE – MIKE GUENETTE
From Calgary Boomers to Cavalry FC
Editor’s Note by Brian Wong:
Calgary has always been one of the soccer hotbeds in Canada. However, visibility of the fans really comes down to what teams they are cheering for, and in most of the time not for the local boys.
Some fans who are wise enough may have seen the one-year wonder of the Calgary Boomers which saw an average of 5,000 to 10,000 fans and occasionally 30,000 home crowd at McMahon Stadium in the 80s. We all know those years were raw.
The Future of Canada Soccer
Fast forward to 2021, Canada is five years away from co-hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026 with the US and Mexico.
Many fans have seen the ups, the downs, and the gone of Owen Hargreaves who chose England over Canada. A lot less we need to worry about finding new poster boys & girls (yes, it is plural) nowadays – the Christine Sinclairs, the Jordyn Pamela Huitemas, the Alphonzo Davies’, the Jonathan Davids. The future seems to be now.
But here are the questions: Can we finally sustain the momentum to put bums on seats so that local professional soccer teams are viable financially? And for fans, they may not need to recite full bios of their favourite Canadian Premier League team players, but at the least – will watching local soccer become part of many Canadians’ lifestyles?
It is nice to hear a perspective from fans. So here it is – Mike Guenette’s Own Voice.
Mike Guenette’s Own Voice
It has been yet another long off season and many fans including myself have been waiting in anticipation. We have done a good job as a supporters group keeping engaged with one another sharing any news, speculations or banter to keep the spirit alive during these uncertain times. Having a start date just days away is a tremendous feeling and I am excited to cheer on the Cavs.
Knowing the league is still moving forward means the world to the football fans who are fully invested in contributing to the success of the sport in our country.
I started playing soccer in elementary school and continued into high school. I had always really liked soccer but officially fell in love in 1998.
My father is from France and my Mother is from Croatia so the 1998 World Cup was very special to me. Croatia made it to the Semi Final in their very first appearance but fell to France who went on to win the tournament.
Since Canada never had a huge presence on the international stage I invested in the countries of my parents heritage. I was lucky enough to travel to Poland in 2012 for the UEFA Euro Cup at which time I experienced the electricity of European football supporters. My focus was primarily on European clubs and International play until the CPL came along.
The Power of Foot Soldiers
I was not one of the original followers of the Foothills club but after attended my first Cavalry FC game I was all in! This was the first time I felt the electricity since my trip to Europe. I was pleasantly surprised at the chanting, drumming and overall atmosphere.
I had waited my whole life for a professional league and club in my city in which I could support and it was finally here. I now bleed for the Cavs and will so for eternity. In the inaugural season we have already witnessed a massive shift in Canadian soccer.
The main goal for CPL was to develop and create opportunities for Canadians and there is signs of success in only a single season. We have seen a local player move on to a bigger established league and interest from European investors.
The Canadian International Men’s team is on the edge of the Hex (edit: Team Canada is now in the Octagonal, 2021) and we have some seriously exciting young talent on the squad in Davies and David.
The CPL sparked interest as well with 4 players being called up for international duty. World Cup 2022 is the first tournament in my football watching life time in which I am truly excited for Canada. We have a real opportunity to qualify.
2022 OR 2026
Even if 2022 does not pan out for us we have 2026 to look forward to with matches being hosted in our own country. With the recent progression in Canadian soccer, I cannot even imagine what the CPL and World Cup will look like in 5 years but I know it will be an amazing ride!
Football is more than a sport. Football transcends gender, race, international borders and poverty lines. It unites people and creates bonds. Football isn’t a part of life… Football is life! In the first year of the CPL I have made some amazing memories and new friends. I cannot wait to see what 2021 holds.