Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Canadian soccer identity?

I've been writing a lot recently about the state of Canadian soccer and where the game is heading in this country. I've looked at development both at the player level and at the boardroom level with the recent changes in the governing structure at the Canadian Soccer Association. Although things look bleak on those fronts, there have been encouraging first steps in correcting the mistakes of the past. The introduction of the MLS to Canada will only help to develop top level talent and persuade  them to play for Canada at the senior level. In terms of organization the provinces and the CSA have finally created a realistic framework in which to help better run soccer in this country, and to make sure that from both a business and playing stand point Canada is preforming to its potential.

However there is still something missing from Canadian Soccer, and it is a true identity.

What does it really mean to play for the national soccer team of Canada? What type of playing style fits Canadians?

The honest answer to those questions are hard to define. In a sense soccer falls in line with the same crisis that many Canadians face in the 21st century, what is the Canadian identity? The majority of the Men's senior national team is made of  immigrants and first generation Canadians like myself. With  many players in the same boat there at times seems to be a clash of styles when you watch Canada play. The playing system for a long time was the old English way of dump and rush, or route 1. When the children of the first real waive of modern immigration began playing football here, they brought a little bit of their cultural way of playing. Once  they were in the Canadian system those kids, now young men, tried to blend the two. Now what you have is a mix of styles that is not always the most attractive to watch in the pitch.

Currently as of July 14th Canada is ranked...100th in the world by FIFA dropping and astounding 37 places. We are currently ranked behind Jordan, Botswana, Uzbekistan and just for you Vaslie..Moldova in 89th. Now take the FIFA rankings for what they are, the teams FIFA wants to see flourish, but there is come truth to this if you're Canada. Without a soccer identity there is little expectation placed on the team except for us footy freaks who want to see Canada progress. This has at times led to complacency within the national ranks.

Former Canadian international Paul James, who represented Canada at its one and only World Cup appearance in 1986 wrote a blog piece on the national team and its issues identity. I do not agree with everything James has to say about Canadian soccer, but he hits the nail right on the head more times than not. Click here to check out the article provided by the Globe and Mail online.

Even if Canada currently lacks a soccer identity now, we will have it sooner than later.

Mike N

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