Herdman: Canadian Premier League will create dreams for young players

TORONTO — The CPL’s emblem is a unique beacon that, among many things, connects the league’s clubs and the communities they represent.

But the “C” formed by the emblem’s inner rings also stands for Canada, a nation that Canadian men’s national team coach John Herdman says is set to experience a seismic shift.

“(The CPL) creates a dream for somebody,” Herdman said. “As a young player, to be able to become part of a tribe, part of a fan group that your father passes a shirt on to you or you pull the shirt on as a 5- or 6-year-old kid and all of a sudden you’re in, you’re in and part of a club — part of something bigger than you and something you can aspire to.”

Herdman continued: “That’s the starting point; That’s the starting point for every young player. They need to see the future and what they could become and an opportunity in the game. I think the (CPL) provides us with that new dream.”

Commissioner David Clanachan’s stated intention is to launch the CPL’s inaugural 2019 season with eight to 10 clubs, meaning the number of professional teams in Canada could triple by next year.

“Once we are able to take this to a local level and people can build that tribalism on a local level, it will be like a vector, a moving force that will come through this country and I think we’ll see it,” Herdman said.

“We’ll see a huge shift that people can connect to football in a community and feel what many of the countries around the world feel. It starts with new generations. It might not be now but there’s a new generation that will say, ‘I have a professional club in my backyard.’”

The CPL’s seven confirmed clubs — HFX Wanderers FC, Forge FC, York 9 FC, Valour FC, FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC and Pacific FC — are accepting membership deposits ahead of kick-off next April.

“I’ve been part of a national team program where 30,000 people will turn out in Winnipeg to watch the women’s national team. I’ve been in a stadium where 50,000 turned up to watch the men play against Mexico,” Herdman added. “This country is a country just waiting; it’s waiting to experience football in a way that it hasn’t experienced before – on a local level, a genuine local level from coast-to-coast.”


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