Valour FC head coach Rob Gale is heading to England this week on a “fact-finding mission,” with the club reporting Gale is looking to “strike up an association with a Premier League club” after visiting various teams in and around London.
The arrangement would benefit both player and coach development, while opening the door for potential loan arrangements between the two outfits.
It’s also an opportunity, as Gale says, to learn some best practices for the gameday experience in Winnipeg.
“That’s one of our major objectives when we go over there, to finalize a deal like that,” Gale said, of an affiliation in England.
“We’re also going to assimilate ourselves with the backroom staff and look at some of the game-day traditions and other things that are going on to help us for rolling out our own unique experience. That’s one of our main objectives – to stand out as a different sporting experience.
“That’s what the Canadian Premier League is going to be about. Young Canadians might not have experienced a professional soccer match and what that entails.”
Those conversations revolve around the fan gameday experience: pre-match ceremonies, half-time fare, post-game celebrations, and all the moments big and small in-between that make a soccer match tick.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to see how other clubs do it and what they’ve done that has been successful,” Gale affirmed.
While Gale didn’t name which club or clubs he’s been in contact with, he explained there has been “mutual interest from both sides” to learn about one another.
“It’s so unique to football,” Gale added. “As much as some of these clubs have 100 years of history and tradition, for them it’s equally as fascinating to see something in its start-up phase and watch it build in the Canadian market.”
He continued: “When you’ve been around in soccer, as quite a few of our coaches have, the networks you create are important. Everybody is trying to look at the latest developments and stay on top of what’s happening in the sport, from science to video analysis to analytics. Any chance you get to learn and stay on top of things … it’s not just about coaching and licenses, it’s about professional development.”