New soccer team hopes to take Durham by Storm
But CPSL club behind schedule on player assessment

Apr 18, 2004
Paul Futhey, Sports Writer

OSHAWA - Is there a storm brewing in the Durham Region soccer community? John O'Neill, the owner of the local Canadian Professional Soccer League franchise, certainly hopes so - in one way at least.

After all, the newly-named Storm, set to begin its first season in Oshawa after relocating from Mississauga, would like nothing more than to be a popular, viable option in the area's sporting scene. When he purchased the team, O'Neill stressed the need to reach out to the area's varied youth soccer organizations to ensure success.

Like those organizations, however, the Storm is finding local outdoor practice venues to be in short supply at this time of year. O'Neill is candid about his frustration as attempts remain unsuccessful at getting the squad a consistent local outdoor practice venue.

The season opener, in Vaughan against the Shooters, is less than six weeks away and Durham has yet to hold an outdoor practice.

"It's very hard to assess players," O'Neill said. "You can't do that until you see them outdoors."

In the meantime, under the supervision of head coach Rocky Bean, the Storm has been holding indoor practices twice a week since the middle of March in addition to outdoor cardio workouts. Bean knows, though, there's not a lot of time left.

"We're trying to get players out consistently," he added, noting the earliest the team would be scrimmaging outdoors would be this weekend.

Unfortunately for the Storm, with fields not ready for the rigours of soccer scrimmages (the team's home venue, the Civic Stadium, won't be available until early June), all it can do is wait. Bids to practice in out of town venues with artificial surfaces, like the Vaughan Soccer Centre, are unlikely to be accepted given preference to local clubs is usually granted.

"I'm not taking a shot at the city," O'Neill stated, "but the facilities aren't there. It's the same for the other youth clubs. You're limited to what you can do."

O'Neill, earlier this year, purchased the franchise after it moved to Durham. The Storm, who will play its home games in Oshawa's Civic Stadium on Friday nights, fills the void left by the Durham Flames. The Flames, after six indifferent seasons, had been booted from the league last December for failure to pay league fees and fines.

Echoing Bean's comments, O'Neill stressed the club is still on the lookout for "good, young, local talent willing to commit to this level."

STORM WATCH: The Storm name and logo were just recently made official. The previous submission (Hoops) was discouraged by the league because of potential confusion with the basketball term. An even earlier submission, Celtic, was rejected because it was an ethnic name. The team's colours, like those of Glasgow Celtic, will be green and white... All 10 of Durham's home games are Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. at the Civic Stadium. The Storm's home opener is June 11, 8:30 p.m. against Vaughan... While the team has 25 players on a protected list, no players have been signed. O'Neill expects the club will likely start signing players at the end of the month. Some international players are also expected to be signed early next month.

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