LONDON SOCCER MERGER
A TIME TO REJOICE
A soccer celebration of sorts took place recently at the Waltzing Weasel, an English style pub located at 1324 Adelaide Street North in London, Ontario.It was a moment of rejoice for good reason following the merger of professional soccer with a youth soccer club in one of the busiest pieces of soccer geography in southwestern Ontario, a place where young players abound.The Canadian Professional Soccer League’s London City are the pros and North London Soccer Club is one of the most successful youth soccer organizations in Canada and they have joined forces to create an environment and pipeline for special young players to move up and on if they are good enough to do so. These two organizations became a single entity during October and quickly struck a working agreement with a third to produce a development structure calculated to spell player development success as time goes by.Kensal Park is the other component, a 600-player house league that already has a close affiliation with the pro-London City and while the pro team is the focus of London City, in 2005 it will also have a team in the Premier Division of the Western Ontario Soccer League and eight youth squads. All of this means that with North London’s 28 teams the entire arrangement will allow a large number of young players the opportunity to keep climbing all the way to a professional soccer career at home or abroad.Player development is key and will take place at the youth level with Martin Painter, a coach with London Dynamite and player with Western Mustangs appointed technical director and it will be his job to see that special players become visible for London City’s Harry Gauss who will determine suitability for the pro game in Canada or elsewhere. Gauss has moved several players for trials overseas and currently has striker Paul Munster with Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic. In recent times, Gauss has sent young standout defender Tyler Hemming and midfielder Cameron Medwin to Grimsby Town of the English First Division as well as Scott Mueller, a goalkeeper, to Scottish First Division side, St. Mirren.Steve Brazier, president of North London had high praise for London City and Harry Gauss in explaining the merger recently. “We believe the merger is just what’s needed for North London at this juncture of the club’s history and I also think it is good for London City following the many years Harry has been working so hard to lay a foundation for professional soccer intended to accelerate development of the more promising young players, ” he said.North London has produced a number of talented players in the past and currently Michael Pereira, Todd Rutledge and Igor Kasic are with Canada’s under 17 squad in Mexico while former Shooting Stars’ player Kate Bazos is with Canada’s under 19 women in the FIFA World Championships now being played in Thailand.