August 26, 2018 Allstate Soccer Show in Downsview (by Rocket Robin)
Details of my visit to the Allstate Soccer Show held on Sunday August 26, 2018 at The Hangar in Downsview Park in North York. The show was one day only and ran from 10:00am to 8:00pm. I planned on attending two L1O games that day so would have to cut out from the event in the middle. It was a combination of exhibits and interactive skill demos, photo and autograph sessions, and lectures/presentations. Allstate is a large insurance company that is a major sponsor of the Canadian National teams. They specialize in home and auto coverage. I didn't come across a booth specifically for them as with the demographic of this show and expecting more than 90% of attendees would have driven here, I thought they'd have salespeople all over this event. Still they'd generate a lot of goodwill by running this event with Canada Soccer. The admission price was free if we'd preregistered beforehand. I saw a poster on the wall at The Hangar about three weekends ago and the promotion gradually ramped up to include soccer message boards in the last week. Admission at the door was $15 but from a brief time waiting to get in and the number of event staff at the door with tablets vs one cash drawer, I'd say a strong large percentage had preregistered. Later with all the kids I saw in soccer jerseys of local clubs, I'd assume their clubs bulk registered for them and their parents. I arrived near the beginning and saw the first event which was an photo/autograph session with Montreal Impact players Samuel Piette and Evan Bush. The wait wasn't too long. We had to register first which meant going to a table for one of the event staff to tie a wristband on us. The way that worked is each 'session' had a different coloured wristband and after we were through someone with scissors cut it off (I suppose so no one would line up for a second round). I think it was 'blue' for the Impact which would make sense by team colours. It was a good test as it was before the bulk of the crowd arrived and these two would be the least popular. I'm not an autograph collector but the players signed on a large postcard sized super glossy picture so it was quite nice with their names pre-typed on the cards when you can't read their names by Sharpie autograph. Probably best not to mention to them that TFC beat the Impact 3-1 to keep TFC's faint playoff hopes alive and the loss jeopardizes the Impact who hold the final playoff spot but are more threatened by two other teams closer in the standings than TFC. I knew Evan Bush was an American so I asked where he was from to make conversation. Ohio...Cleveland Ohio. I suppose he earned a nice appearance fee and could answer any specific goaltender questions. Next along the gangplank/fashion runway was Samuel Piette whose affiliation also included the Canadian National team. I told him I was disappointed in last night's MLS game because himself and Jonathan Osorio (a personal friend of his) were the only Canadian starters for this 'Canadian derby'. No Canadian Championship rules for this MLS game.
... With Impact goalie Evan Bush With Impact midfielder Samuel Piette I realized I'd have no one to take my picture in this format so it just happened that there was another guy who came alone so I suggested we go up together. He had a jersey to have signed. I showed him how to work my camera and then I reciprocated on his cellphone. A show usher asked us to move along because of the long line...fair enough. I looked back within a few minutes and saw the line had shrunk from about 100 with me maybe the 80th guy in line to being no one at all. What had been scheduled as an appearance from 10:30am to 11:30am was over by 11:00am with them disappearing for where I assumed was the airport to catch their flight with the rest of the team. The next autograph session and first of the lectures weren't until 12:30pm at which time I knew I'd have left for the first L1O game so I just spent the next hour or so looking at the exhibits. I watched some kids play some of the skill games like kicking a soccer ball against a supersized Velcro dartboard although rarely did a ball stick. There was kicking a ball into mini-nets, dribbling skills around pylons, and target shooting. Hey look! Soccer Canada is here with a bunch of trophies. I had asked at the BMO Training Ground last week if they were loaning the Voyageurs Cup to the show but since it was only a security guard there that I could find he said he didn't know. But here it was...at the Soccer Show...or at least a replica. I had printed a list of the contributors* to commission that trophy in 2002 so I could take it with me. Yeah now I played all late-wrestler Roddy Piper on them when I asked if I could pick it up...”You know it was MEEE who paid for this trophy” although I couldn't keep a straight face. I asked for a picture with me holding the trophy and my contributors' list. The booth attendant suggested I pose with The Gold Cup except “don't pick it up.....because it weighs 75 pounds”. Ok with me. It was a much larger trophy anyway. Also they had the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup on display. Finally I was invited to take an online quiz and if I was correct on all five questions I'd win a prize. I got through it alright with questions like who was the Gold Cup winning captain in 2000...Jason de Vos. So I got through it and one of the attendants asked me to pick a number between 1 and 4. “ummm '3'”. I never pick 3 but that number came to mind. He went to a huge tupperware type container and picked up an article of clothing. I thought it was maybe a t-shirt and I said “Is it large or x-large?” Oooh x-large and it wasn't just a shirt it was the official Umbro white long sleeve Canadian National team jersey! Wow now this was a great prize...I was expecting a mini-ball like some of the other successful quiz takers. *For those interested...[I'm on that list under my real name 'Robin Glover' as any cheque I'd sign as 'Rocket Robin' would not be negotiable].
... me holding the Voyageurs Cup me beside the Gold Cup Another booth was for Toyota cars. People could sign a white coloured car with coloured markers which I didn't realize until I came back later in the afternoon. Toyota had their own autograph table and it looked like a man signing autographs. Closer to the table and their was a sign that said it was Rebecca Quinn from the bronze medal Olympic team. Ooh. Might as well use my favourite icebreaker. “You played for Toronto Lady Lynx!”. “Yeah one season”. “And you have a twin sister that played goalie”. “Yes”. “You've heard of the singers 'Tegan and Sara'?” “Yes” “They are twin sisters too and their last name is Quin but spelled 'Q-U-I-N'.” “A lot of people spell my name like that!”. Then we posed for pictures when I could grab a Toyota official. [Readers! Do you love that probing hard hitting journalism?].
With Olympic team bronze medalist Rebecca Quinn On to another exhibit...An orange canopy for 'FORGEFOOTBALLCLUB'. Wow a booth set up here in Toronto and they've come all the way from Hamilton. It was Mike Newell running the booth. I'd met him when I drove to Hamilton to see the women's Canada vs Germany friendly back in June and they had a booth there drumming up business and memberships for the hometown team in the new Canadian Premier League that kicks off next April. He was hoping today to gain some new members from the western GTA area up to Mississauga. Well good luck for that. Then came one of the few disappointments of the day. Just six km up the road is the home stadium of York 9 FC and today they didn't have a booth. Some of the guys in the Forge booth were actually from the league office and made some excuses that the execs from York 9 were too busy and there'd be some big news about maybe a player signing in the next few days but I was hurt. Send some underlings to drum up support!
With Mike Newell from Forge FC Right beside the Forge booth was a booth for 'The Voyageurs'. They are a fan group for the Canadian national teams and mostly communicate on their message board. I'm unsure if their only source of revenue is raised by the sale of scarves. What that means is the price of renting a booth was cheap or underwritten by the insurance company sponsoring the show. They were selling scarves and encouraging people to sign some banners that would be sent to the Women's team trying to qualify for next year's World Cup. Does York 9's no-showing underline their 'cheapness' or 'unpreparedness'? It was time for me to go to watch the L1O game...actually a short drive across the parking lot to BMO Training Field. Just before I left I saw FIFA World Cup Assistant Referee Joe Fletcher arriving near the stage where he'd present 'Refereeing: From Grassroots to the World Cup'. I congratulated him on last night's appearance in the TFC vs Impact game. A retired referee had tipped me off at an L1O game that this would be a special game. I asked Fletcher what was the exact event. He answered it was his '100th MLS regular season appearance'. He told his wife that I'm the guy he waves to during warm ups when he does officiating at BMO Field. I mentioned that I looked through my own archives last week to find a time when national team player Atiba Hutchinson had played for York Region Shooters and scored the only goal of the game in the 90th minute in the CPSL back in 2002 and found that Fletcher was an assistant referee for that game too. So I missed the bulk of the presentations and autograph sessions while I was gone. Peter Montopoli (General Secretary of Canada Soccer) and John Herdman (Canada's Men's National Team Head Coach) followed Fletcher's talk with “A leading soccer nation-Legacies of hosting international events on the path to the 2026 FIFA World Cup”. Julian de Guzman (GM of Ottawa Fury FC and former Canada's National Team Captain) and Carl Haworth (captain, Ottawa Fury) followed them with “The changing landscape of soccer. A Canadian and international perspective”. Jason de Vos (Director of Development, Canada Soccer) “Canadian soccer development”. I did get back in time for that one. It was about parents and their kids' clubs but it was a bit too technical for me. Some of the coaching certification courses will now be conducted on-line to save time and expense. Also clubs will be certified under a new system, there will a way to stop player poaching and lots more in the twenty minutes he was onstage. For the missing lectures I asked some acquaintances who had stayed to summarize the Ottawa Fury guys. They said the guys stayed pretty non-committal to their teams participation in the new Canadian Premier League although they wished it success. I'd expect for legal and business reasons they can't say much as they are playing under the USL and they don't want to hurt ticket sales for the rest of the year. The autograph sessions had Dwayne De Rosario who was stuck to his table I'd assume while I was across the parking lot watching his son Osaze come in as a late substitute for TFC III in their win against North Mississauga. Tosaint Ricketts billed as 'Canada's Mens' National Team' was the only TFC presence worked the autograph table later in the afternoon. I left just as Canadian Women's National team players Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, Diana Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson, and Desiree Scott hit the stage. Second L1O game for me was Woodbridge Strikers beating previously undefeated Sigma FC 3-0 in what must be said was an upset especially with Woodbridge playing with ten men for the entire second half. Rocket Robin firstname.lastname@example.org twitter @RocketRobin01
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