Cavalry FC first-year fullback Mohamed Farsi was named the Best Canadian U-21 Player of the year during Thursday night’s 2020 CPL Awards ceremony, capturing an individual honour in an extraordinary first professional season.
The Cavalry newcomer beat out former HFX Wanderers FC fullback Chrisnovic N’sa (now with York9 FC) and Valour FC’s Julian Dunn (on loan from Toronto FCX) to win the honour.
Farsi, a 20-year-old Montreal native, emerged as one of the CPL’s hidden gems in 2020 after signing with the club following a two-week trial in March.
Farsi made 10 appearances at the Island Games as a tricky wide player and excelled at both ends of the pitch, registering a team-high 15 tackles and ranking third in passes in the opponent’s half.
“Never in my life did I think I would have a first season like this, where I’d win awards right away,” Farsi told CanPL.ca. “It makes you proud, in a way, of the work you’ve put into it. I had 10 games to prove myself and I did that, which is satisfying.”
Farsi immediately won the admiration of CPL onlookers during the opening match at The Island Games, drawing two penalties and notching an assist in his first 40 minutes of action for Cavalry against Forge FC.
He continued to have an impact in Cavalry’s second contest in PEI against Valour FC. Starting on the left, Farsi exploded up and down the touchline, proving too much for the Winnipeggers, as he drew another penalty and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Marcus Haber for a second Cavalry goal.
From there, Farsi’s “golden boy” reputation began to shine through – and he was fully aware of it.
“I looked around and said ‘whew, okay, that was quite a good game’ and people were talking about me which makes you realize you need to do better and better,” Farsi said. “When you have a great game, you can coast on that, but I kept it up.”
He ended up hitting 35 crosses in open play (more than anybody at The Island Games), notching an assist, and adding a second-round golazo, which was nominated for the CPL Fan Awards’ El Jimador Shot of the Year.
“I remember like it was yesterday – they way it hit the post, the angle. When I saw it hit the post, I swore it came across the line. The celebration was just pure emotion, just screaming,” Farsi recalled.
Farsi was on trial with Cavalry during the pre-season after spending time with three-time Première Ligue de soccer du Québec winners AS Blainville. He was also one of Quebec’s top-ranked prospects since making his first PLSQ appearance at age 17.
Like Farsi, Chrisnovic N’sa and Diyaeddine Abzi (a nominee for this award in 2019) hail from Quebec, a province that the Cavalry rookie believes more CPL teams should be looking at for players.
“Everyone is watching and everyone can see (Quebec has) talent,” Farsi said. “Think about the players from this year – Chrisnovic, Abou Sissoko, Abzi. People are noticing, We deserve our own team here to let these players shine.”