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The mystery man


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The mystery man

Vancouver businessman puts his money up, but doesn't use his mouth to brag about it

By Terry Jones

HANGZHOU, China -- He's the mystery money man of Canadian women's soccer.

For the past year, Greg Kerfoot has been paying more than 20 players $20,000 each year to allow them to be in residence, to train together in Vancouver, without having to have jobs, to give them a chance to be all that they can be.

He isn't around for photo-ops or to do interviews. The players seldom see him.

"We've been to his house for a barbecue," said captain Christine Sinclair.

"Every so often we see him watching us from the top of a hill at practice."

Kerfoot is supposed to show up here to watch the team in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

"I've only been told he plans to come over here with his family on a trip and watch us play," said Pellerud.

"I don't know when he's going to come here. We always invite him to spend time with us. It's always our desire to do that. But will he when he gets here? Probably not.

"All I can tell you is that we wouldn't have this without him. If it wasn't for him, as well as the Canadian Olympic Association and Sport Canada, we would have been without money."

Kerfoot is the man who saved the Vancouver Whitecaps team from folding in 2003.

He didn't even attend his own press conference.

Pellerud, who due to the state of the Canadian Soccer Association, has had to create his own entity and Kerfoot has helped him do that.

"He had taken over the Whitecaps shortly after we'd moved the program to Vancouver. We had a random conversation. He said 'What can I do for soccer?' It went from there."

Pellerud says the Vancouver businessman is an enigma.

"He's definitely a mystery guy for the media," said Pellerud.

But he's been the magic man for Pellerud.

"I told these girls before the first game of the tournament that for the eight months since we were able to establish the residency camp because of Greg, I've whistled on my way to work and whistled on my way home. I've really enjoyed it."

Of all the players, it's Andrea Neil, the veteran in her fourth World Cup, who probably knows him best.

"He's an incredible man," she said.

"He cares a lot about this team. He's a real guy. He has a winning mentality, really believes in this and keeps himself in the background.

"He's been incredible. We're now professional players. A lot of players have left full time jobs to be able to be in a training lifestyle."

Amy Walsh said the $20,000 has made it possible for her to keep playing.

"It's meant a tremendous amount. I'm from the Montreal area and I certainly wouldn't be on the West Coast training with this team if it wasn't for that money and the $18,000 from Olympic carding.

"I would have had a part-time job to try to make ends meet. I wouldn't have been able to have maintained this kind of fitness and training.

"He saw the lack of support and ponied up with his own cash. This is something he believes in and we are people he believes in.

"We don't see a lot of him, but when I met him I was surprised he was such an unassuming guy. The image I had in my mind was that he would probably be loud and demanding of attention on him.

"It's the opposite. He is almost reluctant to take credit for what he's done. Anybody else would have probably wanted involvement.

"But he's supporting this team on almost blind belief and blind faith."

This is an exceptionally together group which wants to win for each other.

But they also want to win for their mystery man.

"We want to do well here for him because he's put so much into this program. We want him to see it was money well spent," said Sinclair.

"His ultimate goal is to cause awareness in women's soccer in Canada. The better we do here, the more that will happen.

"We don't want to let him down."


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