By now everyone (or at least everyone that cares to visit pages like this one) knows the dream of the Canadian Premier League is a reality.
It was 1:33pm ET on May 7, 2017 when I first saw the news I’d been waiting to see since I first reported it more than three years ago. I was sitting on the Ossington bus, just north of Queen Street W. Two things make that spot a bit amusing to be where it was that I was when the news became official. First off, it’s on the very bus that I have taken to get to TFC and Canada games for years. I happened to be going to a rugby game, but the symbolism of the fact that the bus almost always represents the beginning of a soccer journey for me wasn’t lost in the moment.
It’s also exactly where Canada’s largest hospital and residential treatment centre for mental health is located. I don’t think I need to explain to you how that fits in to covering Canadian soccer and the birth of this league*.
(* Allow me some levity, while understanding that I would never really compare mental illness with cheering for or covering Canadian soccer, but the story did drive me a bit batty over the three and a half years that I chased it.).
My reaction? I started laughing hysterically. Then smiling. Then Tweeting. Then planning how I could get a job in the league. Then tearing up. Then laughing again.
It went like that for a while.
To be perfectly clear the birth of this league isn’t about me, it’s about what it might mean to the sport. However, there are thousands of personal stories and reactions that did matter at that moment. See, the fight for this league was always about the will of people to out care and out believe the cynicism that was overwhelming at times.
This is the story of influential people like Victor Montagliani, who almost single handily killed the Sack the CSA movement with his drive and determination to provide the type of leadership the CSA has lacked for generations.
It’s the story of activists and roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-it-done people like Dino Rossi who tirelessly worked to launch League1 Ontario and show-us-don’t-tell-us that crazy dreams can work if you just get out and do it.
It’s the story of non-soccer people like Scott Mitchell that bought in early and sold the idea to those who can make it happen
It’s the story of rich dudes like Bob Young that are putting more than hope into the project.
It’s the story of people like Anthony Totera who passionately sold the idea to any and all that would listen.
And, it’s the story of fans that bought in and spread the word to other fans. No league, anywhere, matters without that.
I’m proud of my small role – I’ll never break a bigger story in my life – and I’m more than content knowing that there are many out there that doubted my reporting that will still find a way to spin this so that I come out wrong. I’m just a blogger, after all (my two degrees and five years of previous newspaper experience be damned).
All that matters is that the league is going to happen. We – all of us – made the impossible happen. Celebrate it. Enjoy the moment for a couple more days then get back to work.
There’s still a great deal to do to convince those that just heard of this wacky idea on Saturday. There’s still a lot of doubters to be convinced or to overcome.
And there’s still half the population to do right by. The fight for the Canadian Women’s Premier League started at 1:34 ET on Saturday.
Keep fighting; keep caring; keep supporting local soccer.
Days like Saturday are our reward for fighting the good fight. There will be more like it soon enough.