HFX Wanderers FC players and staff will assemble this Sunday for a final farewell get-together, putting the bow on a bizarre-yet-successful 2020 campaign that saw the Halifax-based club finish as the CPL Final runners-up.
Several training sessions this week have followed their 2-0 defeat to Forge FC last Saturday, but now the club is winding things down before players go their separate ways for the off-season.
This year represented an epic turnaround for the Wanderers: From last place in 2019, to competing in CPL Final, Hart’s group braved COVID-19 self-isolation and a two-month-long training stint in Halifax before going to Charlottetown for The Island Games. Now, it’s time to undwind.
“We’re gonna have some time together on Sunday, just to say thanks to the entire club and the players, and then everybody is free to leave,” coach Stephen Hart told CanPL.ca.
Hart explained that HFX has decided to let its players leave, as the team can’t hold friendlies in Nova Scotia, and that “it really didn’t make sense” to continue a training camp.
“Some of them would like to see their families, and to have them here training for no real particular reason didn’t sit well,” Hart explained.
The club is exploring loan deals for players, according to Hart, who has already held meetings about which members of the squad he wants to retain for 2021.
“We know all the players that we want back and we think we’ve assembled a very competitive team,” said Hart, who admitted that “a couple” players have informed the club they plan to move on in 2021.
“We will begin negotiations with players that we have options on or are out of contract. That’s already been in the works… it’s just not a discussion that we usually have with the player themselves.”
Hart and the Wanderers staff can pull a lot of positives from The Island Games, as results against Cavalry FC and Forge FC have, as captain Andre Rampersad put it, proved that they can run with the CPL’s heavy hitters.
Whether those standout players are the ones that are set to leave Halifax is unknown, though their talents certainly caught attention from outside the of CPL.
But, in the short-term, the focus is for the Wanderers is on celebrating the successes of 2020 as a team that defied expectations and became one of the CPL’s big boys in the processes.
“We’ve had a staff get together about what we thought of certain performances,” Hart said of their internal review process. “We had some of the discussions with medical people, on the technical side and on the business side. So we’ve had that and we will continue to have that from after the weekend.
“But, the bottom line is we would like to keep the core of the squad we put together and then look at potential places we need to strengthen as much as possible.”