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Going in a new direction

Today marks a turn in course for myself and my role in helping grow Canadian soccer.

When we started Canadian Soccer News five years ago (actually I can't remember when we started CSN - it feels like it's always just been here now) the intent was to fill the gap in the next to nothing soccer coverage in this country.

To take it back even further, when we launched the It’s Called Football podcast, one mainstream media site was covering soccer regularly, a paper here or there and it was still hard to find something that resembled selection when watching EPL games on Saturday mornings.

Today, every major paper in the country covers the game, television contracts domestic and abroad are sought after and to put it in perspective, the Canadian women’s team drew a television audience of 250,000 earlier this year for their rematch game against the USA. Not bad, eh? Emphasis on the eh.

The other intent to starting CSN was to ensure that a group of writers got on, got exposure and got out. I’m proud of the fact that all of the writers that started with CSN have moved on to bigger and better things - permanently or part-time, they've become the mainstream voices people look to. I’m convinced that’s a trend that will continue with the writers here.

Today though, I’m stepping back from CSN, to do the same — but in a different sense.
I feel like what I set out to do in soccer journalism – help give the domestic game a voice, draw attention to our national teams and the problems that plagued them and instill a sense of pride in the idea of Support Local – have been accomplished. If I’m being truthful, those are goals that were probably met at least two years ago.

Additionally, from a personal perspective on what soccer journalism would bring, if I stayed in this lane, I don’t think I’d find myself topping the matchfixing story. And I don't mind saying, in part my decision was made so that I don't have to carry that bullseye anymore.

However, I do expect to put bookend on that in the coming months. CBC nominated the Fix the CSL documentary for this spring’s Canadian Screen Awards and as I’ve been hinting for some time, there is one more story to tell from that investigation. Actually, it’s more like 10 stories rolled into one.

Those will come when they come. Right now, I need a new challenge. And that’s why I’ve accepted a job at the Ontario Soccer Association.

In large part, what lays ahead there in the next couple years offers an opportunity for myself to make a real difference in the grassroots of this game. With the launch of the semi-pro League 1, to the further rolling out of OPDL, to their coming governance reform, Ontario – and provincial soccer – is going through a real regenesis. It’s something I want to be apart of and will offer real challenge.

CSN will continue on as it always has. Michael McColl and Daniel Squizzato will pick up where I leave off. Michael will handle soccer in the West. And if you’ve been following the growth of him and his team you’ll know that they’re a crew set to collectively break out. Squizz will handle helping writers in the East. And if you follow his work for MLSsoccer.com, you know he is the next writer about to find his trajectory turn up.

There are other promising new writers coming on in the spring. And after speaking with Duane Rollins last night, you can expect the return of the It’s Called Football podcast under a new banner in 2014. He's itching to get it back. If it wasn't for me being eternally sidetracked by the fixing, it would have been back long ago.

So, that’s it. For now. Thank you for your support. I love this community. And I hope you will continue to support the many talented writers here. Promote them and help them get their name up and out.

And if you’re still looking for a better description of how I’m feeling today, this video should sum it up: