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RIP Tony Waiters


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Back in 1985 there were no FIFA match days where clubs had to release their players for international matches. Waiters had to negotiate with individual club managers in order to get his players released for World Cup qualifying. Several Canadian internationals were playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League at the time (Dale Mitchell and Tino Liettieri among others), and it was difficult to convince their clubs to release them.

My favourite Waiters quote was his comment on the difficulty of negotiating with MISL managers, explaining what approach he should have taken. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something like: "At the start of the season, we should have had a meeting with the club managers ... and shot them all!"

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Count me as one of the people who remembered watching Sportsweekend on CBC and jumping up and down when we beat the Hondurans in St. John's.  One of the best sporting moments in my life thanks to Tony Waiters.  A Canadian soccer legend who should have something (a stadium or a stand) named after him.

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This man was the biggest influence in my soccer life: his Whitecaps winning the Soccer Bowl when I was a young teen; his Olympians taking Brazil to penalties; qualifying for '86.  And then, his excellent coaching literature which I still have today (and pass on to newbies).  

Thank you, Tony, for igniting my passion for this beautiful game.  Rest in peace.

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I was so fortunate to do a lot of coaching training with him in Burnaby, and loved picking his brain for a practice idea or for a story from the good old days. Although I was a complete stranger to him, he always greeted me (and everyone, it seems) as if we were old friends.

My very first jamboree for my first child's first year of soccer, my five-year-old son had accidentally knocked over a cone with a pass. As he bent over to pick it up with his hands, out of seemingly nowhere was this tall and lanky moustached gentleman to say, "Now hang on a minute there, son, why don't you put that cone up with your foot?" Demonstrating a lovely pullback well into his seventies, and giving my son one of those simple little training tips that often get overlooked. 

Later at a coaching course, we spent about three hours doing nothing but listening to Whitecaps and National Team stories, one after the other, all told with humility and all with a teaching point or a perfect one-liner at the end.

He was a real gem and I will miss him.

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5 hours ago, Treppy2 said:

Back in 1985 there were no FIFA match days where clubs had to release their players for international matches. Waiters had to negotiate with individual club managers in order to get his players released for World Cup qualifying. Several Canadian internationals were playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League at the time (Dale Mitchell and Tino Liettieri among others), and it was difficult to convince their clubs to release them.

My favourite Waiters quote was his comment on the difficulty of negotiating with MISL managers, explaining what approach he should have taken. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something like: "At the start of the season, we should have had a meeting with the club managers ... and shot them all!"

If i am not mistaken or forgotten, in addition to Lettieri & Mitchell,  there was Branko Segota who was one of the best goal scorers in NaSL.   And was our most proven goal getters and offesnive threat.    I recall that he was the toughest guy to get onto the WC squad due to indoor soccer commitemnts.    In the end he was on the squad for WC1986 but didnt feature much because of this contentious tug of war between the MNT and the indoor league.   Feel free to correct me on the exact details. 

worth noting,  in and around that time,  the NASL had either folded or was in its finals legs and the most talented players were playing indoor soccer to make extra money.  But the money was actually better in indoor soccer. So indoor soccer was their bread and butter.  To me, indoor soccer, the was it played then,  was like plague on the sport of soccer in North america.  It was played in an arena with hockey boards.  Nowhere else in the world, was the sport played this way.  And the skills differed from the sport of soccer as we know it.  

 

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20 hours ago, Free kick said:

If i am not mistaken or forgotten, in addition to Lettieri & Mitchell,  there was Branko Segota who was one of the best goal scorers in NaSL.   And was our most proven goal getters and offesnive threat.    I recall that he was the toughest guy to get onto the WC squad due to indoor soccer commitemnts.    In the end he was on the squad for WC1986 but didnt feature much because of this contentious tug of war between the MNT and the indoor league.   Feel free to correct me on the exact details. 

worth noting,  in and around that time,  the NASL had either folded or was in its finals legs and the most talented players were playing indoor soccer to make extra money.  But the money was actually better in indoor soccer. So indoor soccer was their bread and butter.  To me, indoor soccer, the was it played then,  was like plague on the sport of soccer in North america.  It was played in an arena with hockey boards.  Nowhere else in the world, was the sport played this way.  And the skills differed from the sport of soccer as we know it.  

 

Segota didn't play much in Mexico because yes, the indoor league did keep him till the playoffs ended and I believe his team made it to the finals. So, he missed most of the team's prep and friendlies. Waiters also emphasized fitness, so he didn't think Segota was in shape to play 90 in Mexico by playing the American version of indoor soccer.

But after Segota came as in a sub and showed some ball skills in the second match, all the foreign journos asked Waiters why he didn't play before.

Only in hindsight have I appreciated what Waiters achieved as I just started to follow football. Besides fitness, his teams were noted for their mental fortitude, which has been unmatched since then.

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39 minutes ago, red card said:

Segota didn't play much in Mexico because yes, the indoor league did keep him till the playoffs ended and I believe his team made it to the finals. So, he missed most of the team's prep and friendlies. Waiters also emphasized fitness, so he didn't think Segota was in shape to play 90 in Mexico by playing the American version of indoor soccer.

But after Segota came as in a sub and showed some ball skills in the second match, all the foreign journos asked Waiters why he didn't play before.

Only in hindsight have I appreciated what Waiters achieved as I just started to follow football. Besides fitness, his teams were noted for their mental fortitude, which has been unmatched since then.

Thanks.  Yes,  after reading your post, the exact circumstnaces came back to me.  it was exactly as you mentioned.  The point about fitness was key one as was the point that he just just finished playing in the Indoor league finals.

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9 hours ago, BearcatSA said:

His teams also were pretty good attacking from corners.  Ian Bridge and his near post flick on was a staple.  Waiters got the most out of goal shy side

Yes, his ability to make the most out of what he had is what stands out as his legacy in my mind.  One could argue that there were far more talented MNT teams in the many years that followed 1986 and right up until the present day.   So he was able to get the best out of what he had and that was a credit to him and his coaching abilities.   He chose to use the fitness approach in order to level the playing field between Canada and the opposition.    So canada had to have a very fit team that could run a lot and outlast the opposition.  Therefore, we played a very direct game which at the time was not entirely unique in the world but stood out given the much greater constrasts in playing styles from one region of the world to the next.  
 

i had longed in the years subsequent to 86, that we move away from that direct linear style that put the emphasis on fitness rather than technical/tactical elements.  But as I look back in the bigger picture, i understand Waiters better and why we played that way and it made sence for us at the time.   Soccer, as a sport, was far from being important in canada;  it was not part of the diaglogue in the daily life of Canadians.    I recall a quote from either Waiters or someone else at the time stating that “we plan to play like the edmonton oilers”.   This spoke volumes about the soccer culture in canada because shows that here everything had to be compared to Hockey to be understood to the average canadian and while the fast, up tempo style attacking style of the Oliers was deemed progressive and refined in Hockey,  it was regarded as naive and outdated in soccer.   But that doesnt mean that it doesnt work at times.  

Back then, concacaf was really poor.  Central america was rife with civil unrest and in some cases civil war.  In those regions, priorities were not on sports or soccer.  So the field was far weaker for canada.   When all that changed in the later years, we saw that even though we may have had better players at times than the 86 squad,   Concacaf nations were improving at a much much faster rate than canada.  
 

 

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