Monday May 17th, 2004 at 12:00pm.
Details of the CPSL press conference at Toronto City Hall.
[my few comments are in these shaped brackets]
Dick Howard (acting as the MC) called the meeting to order and introduced a surprise guest, Toronto Mayor David Miller. He spoke about five minutes about his childhood coming from England as a young boy and playing soccer. At college he chose rugby over soccer and lost any 'touch' for the game. He reminded us that soccer has more kids playing than hockey. The CPSL is a place for adults to play and should be an inspiration for kids. Ten years from now when Canada (men) to be in the 2nd round of the World Cup was the start of one of his stories. He had to leave quickly and won a big round of applause and thanks. (No one got to ask him about any stadium plans for this city). [I have a strange news story from the Toronto Star that David Miller hoped South Africa would be awarded the Men's World Cup because then that country wouldn't care about bidding for the Commonwealth Games and Toronto would float to the top if they made a bid which would mean facilities would have to be built. That wouldn't matter until this last weekend when South Africa won their bid but I'll try to pull that story from the Star's web archive].
Dick Howard recalled that he recently spoke to Nelson Mandela in Trinidad&Tobago and Mandela mentioned how he helped cope in prison was to listen to the soccer broadcasts on the radio in a story setting up the influence of soccer in the world.
CPSL media director Stan Adamson is introduced and said president Vince Ursini was held up in court making a joke that no charges were being laid against him but as soon as he said that Ursini did arrive.
Biggest recent news to start is the arrival of Boavista (Portugal) near the end of the month to play Toronto Supra at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke (Supra's usual home venue) on Sunday May 30th at 6:30pm after first playing a CPSL select team Friday May 28th at 8:10pm in London's Cove Road ground. Brampton Hitmen will play London City on Monday May 24th in an exhibition game between the League champions and the Open Canada Cup champs in London.
Vince Ursini takes the mic and said the league lost three teams with the revokation of the franchises for Ottawa Wizards and Durham Flames and the one year hiatus of Laval Dynamites (two reps were at the conference). The team has a new team in Windsor/Detroit and found the Olympians a home as the Durham Storm. He says this year all game reports will be filed electronically. There's a new marketing person. He also expressed the role the CPSL plays in development of game officials (ie referees etc.).
He said a Women's CPSL league was not mentioned last year however with more W-League teams being formed in Ontario that are causing players to defect to the American run USL structure, the CPSL will form a women's league with Quebec teams and will work with the OWSL which is having their rosters raided by the USL. There aren't many details right now. He then spends time thanking various sponsers. He thanked the various owners including Laval who after building a soccer complex and promise to be back next year.
The CPSL will have their 30 minute hilight show back on Rogers Cable community channel this year and possibly national exposure on Vision TV. [hey that's the station with religious shows like '100 Huntley Street'. Good as I don't have the Rogers channel any more with my StarChoice satellite.] Ursini admits the league stumbled last year after five years of progress.
Dick Howard introduces Willie Giummarra who will play for Toronto Croatia this year and Ritchie Lissone who will be on the Durham Storm. Those two are still doing their soccer tricks and will appear on a Kellogg's cereal commercial shortly. Howard mentioned how the two players first met when they were both Red carded during a high school soccer game.
Howard thanks some others in attendance including some names from the past like current Brampton Hitmen manager Hector Marinaro. He compliments the organization of getting the Boavista team over to Southern Ontario. They've always been among the top five teams in Portugal famed for their black & white checkered uniforms. The five man import rule is being used for such purposes this year of having three players from the Mexican 1st Division team Cruz Azul play for Brampton Hitmen. He introduced those players who stood and waved hello. The Metro Lions will have some Caribbean players this year. [The press kit lists names Caswain Mason, Darryl Gomez and Hayden Fitzwilliams although I've seen them play on last year's team]. The Storm are to have some Bermudeans. There's also some great Canadian players. He swerves off topic and reminds us of Euro 2004 coverage with TSN picking up 23 games and 8 more on Fox SportsWorld.
Howard says the soccer community must work together. "Com-Unity" was an expression used in Trinidad&Tobago for how government, business, and owners worked together. "TEAM together everyone achieves more" so he implores the CPSL to support the Lynx as we must all support each other. Also he reminds us that let's show some more respect for game officials as it's not the easiest job. The coach and management have to remind their players of this and suggests a Fair Play Award [he's reminded that the CPSL already does give out an award for that].
Howard starts a race to find two business cards left under all the chairs that have been set up. The prize was a soccer ball for each card. Photographer Tony Pavia won one of them. He then takes a poll of how many people here saw the Lynx game yesterday afternoon and was pleased that quite a few hands went up. He said the Lynx support the CPSL. Stan Adamson thanked Dick Howard for being the MC and reminded us that Howard is the only North American on the FIFA technical committee.
Adamson wanted to comment on an article that appeared in a national soccer magazine [hmm could he mean Inside Soccer?] which had some inaccuracies. The CPSL does not collect any money from kid's registration fees; not the clubs nor the league. Also the CPSL has never criticized the National teams. Their stance is the CSA should support pro soccer although not necessarily financially. The national teams have expanded from two to thirteen with the age groups of the men's and women's teams are considered. The CPSL thinks their league is important for the CSA to promote. They know they are Division 2 soccer in Canada.
Dick Howard says a few last thank-yous to the organizers of city hall, sponsers, catering and us in today's large turnout of about 50 in total.
The media were than given the press kits in a plastic bag with a Locust soccer ball (about half size) and inflated this year. Great as I never did get last year's ball pumped up.
There was a small buffet table and the meeting broke up into a few one on ones.
The Laval owners were excited about their new soccer complex which should be finished by this Fall. There will be a 3000 seat stadium in Laval with about eleven fields surrounding it. The stadium will have a Field-Turf calibre surface. They aren't so sure about returning to the CPSL next year but want to wait and see if there will be any other Quebec area teams joining the league to help cut down on the travelling time and costs.
I asked Vince Ursini that since it didn't take long for them to allow a team in Durham after revoking the previous franchise, how long would it take them to do something like that in Ottawa? He told me there was actually one enquiry for this season but the League wouldn't guarantee that the Wizards owner would not sue them. The owner's newest target is the operator's of The Bubble who had it collapse and ruin the field (?). A future owner may locate the team in Ottawa rather than far away Carp. The players have to look carefully over any contracts they sign. The player's contract I mentioned was reviewed but was legally binding.
David Gee sold the Mississauga Olympians (now renamed Durham Storm) but was at the press conference. He said he has a 'very small role' with the York Shooters this year.
The Open League Cup starts this week but the CPSL has only planned the first two rounds. I've posted the league story about that.
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