Milan Borjan: CPL was a long-time coming for Hamilton, Canada

TORONTO – The steely resolve of strikers in Hamilton forged Canadian international Milan Borjan into the goalkeeper he is today.

Fitting, then, that the city’s new professional soccer team, Forge FC, bears the name it does.

For Borjan, who was born in former Yugoslavia before moving to Hamilton as a child, the birth of professional soccer in his hometown has been a long time coming. He said so himself when asked by about the new league, ahead of Canada’s 8-0 thrashing of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It’s great. I’m from Hamilton, and there’s a lot of potential there,” Borjan said. “This is going to be great for Canadian soccer and for Hamilton. There’s a lot of good kids who want to make something in soccer, their careers, but they never had a chance there before. Now they have a chance because there’s a club in Hamilton that’s going to play in a professional league. This is what Canada was missing for many years back.”

Borjan looks back at his time playing in Hamilton with positive memories. He recalled his youth soccer days suiting up for Mount Hamilton Youth Soccer Club fondly enough, crediting the coaches and the organization for providing him with the “perfect experience” he needed to launch into his own professional career abroad – first, with Quilmes in Argentina, and later, with European outfits like Sivasspor, Ludogorets, and, most recently, with Red Star Belgrade.

The Canadian international is getting set to gear up for UEFA Champions League football with Red Star, where he’ll take on giants Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Napoli in Group C.

While he’s preparing for what he called the “most beautiful part” of club soccer, he’s also got one eye back home, where Forge FC is also hard at work preparing for the inaugural 2019 Canadian Premier League campaign. And, as the league comes to fruition, Borjan noted the important role it will play, both in the development of the sport in Hamilton, and for Canada’s national team program.

“Every country has a league of its own,” Borjan offered, when asked about the CPL. “A lot of players that play in a national team, they come from their own league. This is going to be a very good step. Maybe not in the first year, when the league is getting promoted and everything, but in the future, this is huge for Canada. A lot of kids will get a chance.”

He added: “Everybody (in the national team camp) is excited. I’ve been talking to a couple of guys here and they’re really excited, because this is going to help us a lot. All that talent, the coaching staff will have eyes on a lot more talent in Canada now.”

Those prospective young talents have an opportunity to showcase their skills firsthand to all the Canadian Premier League’s head coaches when the league’s #GotGame Open Trials visit Hamilton on October 1-2.

Spots have filled up fast in the area and Borjan offered some advice to trialists who will be participating at the tryouts at Tim Hortons Field – and across the country from coast to coast.

“They just have to believe it is possible,” Borjan said. “I believed it my whole life. From the first day I kicked a ball, I believed I’m going to become somebody, and play for the national team.

“When you believe in something and set your goals, you can do anything.”

The CPL’s #GotGame Open Trials kick off in Halifax from September 20-21, 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).

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