CPL coaches Gale, Wheeldon Jr., Paulus identify handful of talent in Halifax Trials

Day 1 of the Canadian Premier League’s #GotGame Open Trials is now well underway in Halifax, with over 100 players in attendance to show off their skills and test their fitness in front of each of the league’s head coaches, and for Cavalry FC boss Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Valour FC’s Rob Gale and FC Edmonton’s Jeff Paulus, the first day has certainly piqued their interest.

Paulus and Gale each admitted interest in half-a-dozen or so trialists, with Wheeldon Jr. narrowing his criteria to just one or two standouts from the first day of trials. The three tacticians told they’re looking forward to seeing more from their identified players in the full 11-v-11 matches on offer on Day 2 of the event.

“I want to see their mannerisms are like in their actual positions, and if they understand the game a little bit,” Paulus told “There’s six that have shown they can read the game quite well in these small-sided games here, so we’ll see how they do tomorrow.”

Wheeldon Jr. offered: “I said that to them in the beginning; catch our eye with something and then reinforce it with something else, and if you make a mistake, go back to the basics. But catch our eye. Do something good. Do something positive. Take somebody on. Win a big tackle. They’re the ignition switches that catches our attention.”

Spirits were high for the first stop of the #GotGame Open Trials, which Valour FC boss Gale expected and later offer praised over, crediting the players for their enthusiasm and the high energy throughout the day. But for Gale, the real observations come only when the day starts to take its toll and the true character of the player starts to come through instead.

“First and foremost, you look for that effort that’s going to come when they’re excited, but what we’re looking for is the ones who have settled down into the play, they’re not letting the nerves get the better of them,” Gale said. “In the first few games, there were a couple of fouls and a couple of scraps and a couple of battles, which I don’t mind, but now you want to see the football come to the foreground. I think you’re starting to see that as the morning wears on here.”

Wheeldon Jr. agreed with Gale’s assessment, adding that he and his fellow coaches have clearly distinguished the tiers of talent on offer in Halifax.

“The lads have come in now and there’s great enthusiasm. They’re all trying to shine,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “The play’s good but you can see they’re all from different levels. You do have some local amateurs here, some players you could class as perhaps university players, and then there’s one or two, like always, that are ahead of the level. They’re the ones, really, we’re looking at now.

“Can they then come back in day two and will they shine again? And, if they shine in that, then the next stage is, can they then come and shine if they’re invited to a pre-season camp? That’s what we’ll be asking.”

The CPL’s #GotGame trials continue in Halifax on Friday before making stops in Montreal (Sept. 27-28), Hamilton (Oct. 1-2), Toronto (Oct. 11-12), Winnipeg (Oct. 18-19), Calgary (Oct. 25-26) and Vancouver Island (Nov. 5-6). Think you’ve #GotGame? Register at