Atlético Ottawa off to Madrid for start of pre-season on April 1

Atlético Ottawa is headed to Spain to reconnect with its parent club Atlético Madrid.

Ottawa announced on Monday that it will start its pre-season training camp for the 2021 CPL campaign on April 1 in Madrid in a move that sees the club return to the Spanish capital. While there, Ottawa players will make use of Atlético Madrid’s training facilities, including Alcalá de Henares, a new facility that was inaugurated in 2019.

Atlético Ottawa spent party of its pre-season camp last year in Madrid, but it’s time there was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the team had to return home early to Canada.

Fernando Lopez, CEO of Atlético Ottawa, explained that it’s the club’s mission to have pre-season training camp in Madrid every year.

“We are excited to be returning to training in the Canadian Premier League. Although it is a difficult time, we need to continue our promise from the outset of the franchise to build a connection to Atlético de Madrid through Atlético Ottawa. We want our team to feel a part of the larger Atlético family and this is the best way to ensure we meet this goal all while providing world class training opportunities to our players,” Lopez said in a media release.

Ottawa said it will comply with all temporary international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 upon entry to Spain and its return to Canada. The club will also follow the strict “Return to Train Protocol” put forth by the CPL, and obey the current health and safety measures established by the Government of Spain and the Authorities of the Community of Madrid throughout training camp.

All Ottawa players will be tested prior to leaving and upon return to Canada and on a regular basis throughout training camp in Madrid.

Under coach Mista, a former Atlético Madrid player, Ottawa enjoyed a solid debut season in the CPL last year, posting upset wins over Cavalry FC and Pacific FC en route to a 2-2-3 record and a seventh-place finish at The Island Games in PEI. Mista was also nominated for the CPL’s Coach of the Year award.

Atlético Ottawa currently has 10 players signed for the 2021 CPL season, including such returnees as Malcolm Shaw, Vashon Neufville and Antoine Coupland.

Atlético also selected a pair of young prospects at this year’s CPL-U SPORTS Draft, with Carleton’s Cristopher Malekos and York University’s Reggie Laryea earning invites to pre-season training camp.