CPSL press conference May 22nd...
by Rocket Robin
Details of the pre-season CPSL Press Conference held Wednesday May 22nd, 2002 at the Travelodge Hotel at 12:00pm.
The Master of Ceremonies was Dick Howard (great choice) and the head table consisted of him and Vince Ursini (CPSL League President), Italo Ferrari (owner of Hamilton Thunder), Mutale Chanda (CEO of Metro Lions), Italo 'Al' Ferrari (president Soccer OnLine), Mark Tolet (sp?) (president of FanTactics), Stan Adamson (CPSL director of Media relations), Anthony Perrazi (sp?) a former North York councillor and today replacing Pete LoPreti.
Stan Adamson introduced MC Dick Howard with a page full of his accomplishments including his most recent honour--inductee to the Canadian Soccer Hall Of Fame.
Vince Ursini the CPSL League president reminded us that this is the fifth year of the league. The goals:
Stability--make league financially stable and strong with a high standard. Also make each club meet certain standards. The four new 2001 teams from last year are still under a three year probation.
Grassroots Player Development--promote grassroots using it as a vehicle for: mission statement, affiliations agreement with youth clubs, and player movement agreements with A-League franchises.
CSA & Professional soccer endorse--
The CPSL will be across Canada by 2003 (they moved up their previous goal of 2005).
A WPSL (women's) league by 2004 and their are 14 teams committed.
National Vision--There will be a playoff for a national title between five regions.
East--Maritimes and Quebec.................Central--Ontario..............Gateway--Manitoba and Northern Ontario................Prairie--Alberta and Saskatchewan.............West Coast---British Columbia
Dick Howard gave us some personal observations of good news and bad news in his travels.
Good News:...Women's CPSL announcement, U-19 Women's Concacaf Qualifying was strong.
Bad News:...Vancouver Whitecaps ownership woes, USL attrition rate and demise of MLS Florida teams.
He had his own definition of the acronym CPSL:
C--Caring...CPSL provides a good link with the community, he's been to watch the Trinidad&Tobago league and seen game with only 50-100 fans in attendance because the teams have no identity with the community they play in.
P--Presentation...CPSL has a great product and proud players. However he hates nets having to share fields with football goalposts. (this drew applause). more pride is needed.
S--Setting...we don't have great stadiums, he's seen four T&T stadiums that are better than anything we have in Canada. Grenada has a great stadium. However the St Catharines Wolves final last year was played in a great atmosphere.
L--Longevity...long term stability, the original eight teams are still around [umm Mississauga Eagles?], there is a great sense of community with name changes to teams to broaden their appeal Glen Shields to Vaughan, Oshawa to Durham.
Italo Ferrari (owner of Hamilton Thunder) is excited to be in the league, he appreciates the hard work of the original CPSL teams to form the league.
Mutale Chanda (CEO or Metro Lions) was delighted to be here, he'll bring an African soccer tradition, they've already been welcomed by the Scarborough soccer community, they have an international mix of players and adminstrators, the team will make a contribution to the league. [actually that was a guesstimate of what he said because he was so soft spoken he could barely be heard above the noise of the air conditioning!]
Al Pereira (president of Soccer OnLine) with referee Calin Pintea.
Sportsfutre Soccer OnLine will use up to date computer tools and will try their original idea of making quick updates.
Some executives were introduced from the CSA and OSA and also Tony Taylor.
Young Anthony Vassallo from London City who was only age 14 when he played in a CPSL game last year against Toronto Supra. He got on the mike and admitted he wanted to play professional with London and maybe Canada. Dick Howard mentioned how Owen Hargreaves came through the ranks.
Sponsers from the business community were thanked--The Government of Canada, Rogers Television, Locust (equipment suppliers), and Final Decision (for referees uniforms). Josie is back in the CPSL and Stan Adamson came to the league just last year.
Stan Adamson outlined the four segments of the CPSL season.
1. League competition from May to October
2. League Cup played during the season with the semi finals and final in Hamilton on a weekend at the end of September.
3. Playoffs for the Rogers Cup in North York on a weekend in October.
4. One game by each CPSL team against the NTCO team of Canadian Prospects from the National Training Centre. [ok I only counted 11 games].
A video was shown of the 2001 Playoffs with pretaped narration by Alex B from Rogers. [Yikes I've lost my access to Rogers Community Channel and am looking for a tape trader to see the weekly hilight package].
Nicole Hartrell the CEO of Toronto Lynx was introduced from the crowd and came up to talk about the cooperation that has overcome the original fragmentation between the CPSL and the original Lynx ownership. They originally couldn't be in the same room together!
she supports expansion of the league across Canada.
she supports some CPSL teams boosting up to the Lynx equivalent.
it's ripe for Division 2 teams, but it's tough for Division 1 as it struggles financially.
Anthony Perazzi (represented a City of Toronto councillor who couldn't be there today) noted how years ago ball diamonds were in demand but he's seen how that's turned to soccer pitches now that there's been such a growth of support.
Dick Howard says that 40 billion cumulatively will watch the World Cup including 3 billion who will watch the final (more if China makes it that far)!
Rocket Robin acknowledges because of stadium availability and television times, the league schedule only came out two days ago but with the new soccer on-line group deal (member sitting at the head table) will there be a fast online update of stats? Vince Ursini says "Yes" as he knocks his water glass off the table. "within 24 hours of a game being played".
I'm thanked by Dick Howard and Vince Ursini for the work I've done over the years for the league.
CHIN radio guy asks questions in Italian for Vince Ursini to translate and answer. Vince says there will be no dilution of talent with two new teams. Last year's four new league teams were quite successful winning some of the honours. He says there will be better officiating and is quite happy it will be improving. Year 2001 the goal was to cut down on player swearing at officials; year 2002 will be to cut down on the player whining.
Orville Reynolds publisher of It's Called Futball asks for more details about game supervisors that were mentioned earlier in the conference. Stan says there will actually be five officials at every game. This fifth official will make sure the game starts on time, that each player is eligible to play, provide logistical aid, file reports, and ensure the smooth running of the game.
Anthony Huie president of the Toronto Soccer Association asks about youth support similar to the Toronto Lynx affiliation with the communities. Vince says ties between each team and their community are not all the same, the league is working to standardize this involvement, and their new marketing company is working towards that goal.
Lunch is served! Although I recognize more than 50% of the people here, I've almost finished before I realize that I'm sitting at the same table as Canada's Women's National Team coach Even Pellerud. Even asks how there could ever be any fat vegetarians to a CSA member at our table. "Too much cheesecake?" I say as that turns out to be what the veggie CSA member is eating. So everyone laughs and it's a good time to slip him my card and praise my own coverage of the previous Women's World Cup qualifiers in Etobicoke a few years ago. "21-0, 14-0, well I don't expect we'll do that well again but here's hoping".
Now let's detour to the WalMart on the way home and buy some blank video tape so I can be one of those 40 billion World Cup viewers.