“Jude, off! Jude, sit!”
Those will soon be two common phrases coming out of new Valour FC goalkeeper Matthew Silva’s mouth. The 29-year-old native of Mississauga, Ont., has played football all around the world, and after he moved back home to to play for York9 last season he made his girlfriend, Ariella, a promise: they would get a puppy if they moved again for his soccer career.
So, when Silva signed his new deal with Valour FC, he knew moving to Winnipeg would mean he’d have to train their new golden retriever puppy, Jude.
“How much patience we’ll have, I’m not sure,” joked to CanPL.ca.
Jude hasn’t be the only thing keeping Silva busy during this COVID-19 pandemic. Like everybody else, he has spent a lot more time on his cell phone and taking advantage of the extra time he has to downloaded apps to help improve his skills in the net through some “brain games.”
“There are games in there that have to do with depth perception and reaction. Those are two things that relate directly to a ‘keeper,” Silva explained.
Prior to working out with Valour last week, Silva took part in the team’s virtual Zoom training sessions and met most of his teammates online from his home in Brampton, Ont., where he was staying with his girlfriend and his parents.
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The Zoom sessions started before he even met his new Valour teammates in person. Silva’s recruiting phase was all done over the phone and video chats.
“It’s different,” Silva said. “But I guess on a positive note, it means that the references that they’ve gotten about me and my reputation, and possibly my game film and my agent as well have all done a good job to convince them without them actually seeing me play and train in person.”
Silva started just one match for York9 in 2019, a 2-1 win over Pacific FC. He broke his thumb in the pre-season and the club brought in Nathan Ingham who ended up being the starter. Silva said even though he didn’t play much last year, it was easier to get acquainted with his new Valour teammates since the league is small.
“I definitely knew some players and you play every team so often that you can’t help but to get to know the guys,” Silva offered.
Opportunity is another reason why Valour FC was an attractive option for Silva. Rob Gale’s team didn’t have a designated starting goalkeeper in 2019, with Tyson Farago and Mathias Janssens splitting games. Even though fellow new goalkeeper James Pantemis is expected to see the majority of starts for Valour in 2020, having a backup with the experience of Silva could go a long way.
“I believe that coach Gale and Patrick [Di Stefani] both see me as a part of the team and to get games in, to be able to prove to myself and to the league and to the team that I can play in this league and that I have the quality to play in this league,” Silva said.
Silva doesn’t only have CPL experience; he’s spent years playing in the United States and overseas.
He started four seasons in college for the Le Moyne Dolphins in Syracuse, NY., earning Northeast-10 Conference rookie of the year honours and three all-star nods. He also excelled in the classroom, graduating with a double major in business finance and business analytics.
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From there, Silva moved to the Philippines to sign his first professional deal in 2015 with Kaya Futbol Club–Iloilo in the United Football League. Playing in North America and Asia wasn’t enough for Silva, as he boarded a plane to play for a couple of teams in Sweden before moving back to Canada and joining York9 for the inaugural CPL season.
Now he is looking forward to contributing to the soccer community in his home country.
“I’m happy to be part of the Winnipeg system and the Canadian system that’s giving Canadian kids something to play for,” Silva said.
“It’s something to look up towards. So, maybe just in the general purpose of happy to be in the system and specifically for this year in Winnipeg, for the continual growth of football in Canada.”
Asked to describe his style of play, Silva said he brings a lot of his emotions into the game.
“A bit of aggression, but it’s basically out of passion for the game and for winning and honestly for care of the other players. My mentality is thinking of them first and hoping that together collectively we can all do our part and win games and ultimately make the club happy, the coaching staff happy, the fans happy, everyone happy. A little bit of all of that,” Silva said.