Sports & Recreation(Archives)
Historic Cup Game to Boost FC Edmonton fans in Fort McMurray
In the ultimate state-of-the-art SMS Equipment Stadium, twenty-four aspiring soccer players from FC Edmonton (FCE) will seek to win the first-ever Wood Buffalo Cup title on July 5, 2015.
The FCE team will be among some of the first soccer players to step foot on the pitch in two Northern American Soccer League (NASL) matches for the 2015 game season.
With the first match – The Wood Buffalo Cup - against the defending NASL champion San Antonio Scorpions and the second against their Canadian cousins, Ottawa Fury FC on August 3, the FCE team will have the local Wood Buffalo audience cheering them on.
The larger FCE fan base took off in Fort McMurray shortly after the announcement of the team’s partnership with MacDonald Island Park in 2013. This partnership includes a commitment to regular season games at the Shell Place, as well as, hosting youth soccer clinics during the FCE’s off-season.
FCE Head Coach Colin Miller shares how the partnership with MacDonald Island Park is thriving for the future of our young athletes and soccer sports fans at-large.
“Working with the youth, providing professional soccer and giving young soccer players’ role models can plant some real positive seeds for the future,” he said. “The local soccer community and fans are going to see some really exciting soccer and hopefully we can provide the people of Wood Buffalo a new team to support.”
As for The Wood Buffalo Cup, there’s a lot of competition on the line to claim the first-ever trophy for this event. It will be Fort McMurray’s first professional soccer game in history, as well as the most Northern professional match to be held in North America.
“This is a real exciting time for FC Edmonton and MacDonald Island with such a fantastic stadium in place. This could really be the tip of the iceberg,” said FC Edmonton Head Coach Colin Miller. “We at FC Edmonton are very excited to come up to Fort McMurray this summer.”
The Wood Buffalo hardware isn’t the only thing on the line, this first match of the Fall Season will set the pace. Coach Miller shares how last year’s standards from the FCE’s performance has the team looking to raise the bar and they plan on being more competitive.
“We want to be as competitive in every game that we possibly can, to win as many games as we possibly can and to be as far up the table as we possibly can. That’s it, in generic terms,” he said. “The standards we had set in the fall season of 2014 has put a bit of pressure on us to be better this season. That tells me that we’ve done a good job on the field and now we have to get more wins under our belt and make our home a very difficult place for other teams to come and play.”
According to the FCE website (fcedmonton.com), the pro team was initiated by the Fath brothers, Tom and Dave of the Fath Group on February 9, 2010. It was after the team’s first season, FCE looked to embrace success heading into the second year. However, they finished in last place.
Shortly after, the brothers hired the Canadian professional soccer coach Colin Miller to take over the helm of the club due to his compelling coaching track record. He has an extensive background in the sport, tracing back to 1982, where he played for the Toronto Blizzard team. Also, he has captained the Canadian national men’s soccer team several times throughout his career, which earned him 61 caps (*A cap is a metaphorical term used, in European sport, for a player’s appearance in a game at an international level).
“Changing the culture of the club into one that is hard to beat, hard to play against, entertaining, physically fit and a smoothly run football club from top to bottom,” Coach Miller shared on the successes of revamping the team, since taking over the head coach position. “All the staff now know what they do and everyone is answerable. The level of professionalism is certainly at a different standard.”
Today, the team’s future looks prosperous to becoming the official team for Alberta with fans spreading north of the province’s capital and FCE’s Media and Public Relation representative Jill Horbay agrees with Coach Miller’s excitement of bringing their best to Wood Buffalo.
“We look at these two matches as just the beginning of something we can really grow in the community,” she said. “The club has been evolving since day one. From the office staff to the players on the field, we’re always finding better ways to build our brand, produce a higher level of product and grow our fan base.”
Having a dedicated fans is important to FCE, as they travel around North America with three team games in Florida, one in Texas and one in Carolina. They also travel to Ottawa, New York and Minnesota, playing every team at least once away from their home base in Edmonton.
Now, with their long-term partnership with the MacDonald Island Park Corporation, FCE will be travelling to the region frequently for their games and for their one-of-a-kind soccer clinics with the FCE professionals during their late off-season.
“Our owners, Tom and Dave Fath have big plans for this club,” said Horbay. “We look to continue growing our fan base and being an important part of the Edmonton and Alberta community. We think that our growing relationship with Fort McMurray and MacDonald Island Park will play a big role in the Eddies future, especially when it comes to growing the beautiful game in Alberta.”
As for Coach Miller, he’s excited to continue doing what he loves most, alongside hardworking colleagues, players and people who have passion for the game.
“Everyday, I get up with a smile on my face and I realize how fortunate I am to work with such a fantastic ownership,” he said. “I’ve got a staff that are very local and very hard working. The players come into training with smiles on their faces. The hardest part is always managing the players when you can only choose eleven every week, but the lads know it’s not a personal thing, but a professional decision that will benefit the club.”
Tickets for the upcoming events can be purchased online at fcedmonton.com/fort-mcmurray-tickets. Keep up-to-date with registration openings on the MacDonald Island Park website at macdonaldisland.ca/programs and learn more about FC Edmonton by visiting their website.
Photos by Tony Lewis