In this series, passionate soccer supporters tell their story of falling in love with the beautiful game, and how they’re helping lead the charge in their communities to support new clubs in the Canadian Premier League. Lucas Piatti of Generation IX is one of those dedicated supporters in York Region.
The Woodbridge, Ont., native grew up supporting Argentine outfit Gimnasia, and played for various clubs in Vaughan, including the Woodbridge Strikers and Glen Shields Futbol Club. He spoke with the CPL about York 9 FC and Generation IX during the club’s head coaching announcement last week at the Markham Pan Am Centre.
CPL: What is your current role with Generation IX?
Piatti: I’m one of the nine co-founders. We’re very passionate about the game and we live north of Steeles (Ave.), which is the border of Toronto. Since I was able to stand, I’ve been kicking a ball pretty much. My background is Argentinian so it’s very much in my culture and my family, my upbringing. I’ve always been enthusiastic about the local game, even in Canada when the scene was pretty much non-existent, even when our teams weren’t overly competitive.
CPL: How far along has Generation IX come since being founded?
Piatti: We’re very much in the early stages. What we’ve been trying to do is gather the interest of the people that have an interest in soccer, but don’t quite know that York 9 FC is happening. We’ve scoped out a few different spots and doing some preliminary research as to what’s the best place to congregate, how can we get together and go to the games together, do we want to take the subway line there, do we want somewhere close to York University? We’re in the early stages but we do intend to utilize York University because there’s lots of young, passionate people there who enjoy the game. We want the passion in the stands to reflect the quality on the field, which we think with Jimmy (Brennan) in charge, is going to be quality with a focus on regional talent.
CPL: What do you think of the appointment of Jimmy Brennan as York 9 FC’s first-ever head coach?
Piatti: Honestly, I can’t see anyone better. Just with conversations with him and seeing his passion and his vision to have a fully-encompassed team from this region, that’s the kind of vision that’s needed for this league and Canada as a whole. He’s obviously a legend internationally and his resume speaks for itself. He’s played all over England for some great clubs and he’s taken what he likes, what he doesn’t like. It’s interesting to hear a defender talking about an attacking-minded set-up. He was always a good fullback. No one will ever forget that screamer he scored for Toronto FC (against Sporting Kansas City). It’s great. Knowing what he wants on the field, he also wants passion in the stands, so I love it.
CPL: What sort of soccer are you hoping to see from York 9 FC in its inaugural 2019 season?
Piatti: Basically, an attractive brand of football is what we hope to see. We believe we’ll have a competitive club – I guess that’s up to the coaching staff to see the players at their disposal, which, you know, just looking at performances of League 1 Ontario teams in Vaughan, Woodbridge, I’m sure they have good talent to choose from. We can’t expect to see 11 Canadians on the field just yet but we’d like to see a clear intent to develop the players and give them a chance to succeed, a chance to fail. It’s these kinds of opportunities – to succeed and to fail – that’s going to develop them into players that hopefully can represent the national team. With the ultimate goal being to build a player pool in the national team, we hope to see players from this region making up the core of the national team one day, maybe in 2026. This emphasis on local, regional talent is what we’d like, coupled with an attractive brand. Winning isn’t everything. We’ll be there whether they win or lose.
CPL: How do you envision York 9 FC fitting into the fabric of soccer in York Region?
Piatti: With the announcement of the Canadian Premier League, it’s something that’s so huge for the national game. Growing up, I’ve always wished for some kind of professional league to be behind and MLS did fulfill that 10 years ago. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s done wonders in terms of the growth of the game and development of players but it’s gotten to a point where it’s just not enough for all the in-between cities. In York Region, it’s a bit of a unique case in the league because we’re so close to Toronto, and historically Toronto has dominated the landscape. This will be the first team for York Region.
CPL: The team’s name, York 9 FC, refers to the nine municipalities that make up York Region – what do you think about the club’s identity and uniting quality?
Piatti: With sport, obviously this is very encompassing of the region and its nine municipalities. Nothing unites a community quite like sport. Up until this point, there’s very little that would unite Vaughan with Aurora or Georgina with Markham. The fact that (this team) is very much all-encompassing, and that’s the vision of the coaching staff and directors, is something we can get behind. As somebody who grew up playing in the region and saw the talent that came out of here, I really think there’s no reason why we can’t have our own community based team.
CPL: What’s the best way for an interested supporter to reach out and learn more about Generation IX?
Piatti: We’re currently on Instagram, so reach out on social media (@generationix). Right now we’re going to be around at all the big announcements. Moving forward there’s going to be more meetups and we’re talking about a supporters vs. coaching staff game set up sometime in August. We’ll be out at York University, and League 1 Ontario games. What we want to see is people who come out, get in the stands and really get behind the team. We’re interested in people with this kind of passionate support.
You can check out Generation IX on Instagram (@GenerationIX) for more information about the group, as well as York9Football.Club to secure your membership with a deposit ahead of the CPL’s inaugural 2019 season.