Hometown players, exciting soccer part of plan for FC Edmonton's new coach

A team with local players, an exciting game strategy and maybe even a purpose-built stadium full of fans are all part of the vision for the new head coach of Edmonton's new professional soccer team.

'We'll entertain the audience ... and we'll play good football,' says Jeff Paulus

Jeff Paulus has been named the new coach of FC Edmonton as it prepares to enter the Canadian Premier League. (CBC)

A team with local players, an exciting game strategy and maybe even a purpose-built stadium full of fans are all part of the vision for the new head coach of Edmonton's professional soccer team.

Jeff Paulus, who has been involved with the FC Edmonton organization for about six years as an assistant coach and academy director, said the reality of being named to the top coaching job is still sinking in.

His game plan, however, is already well formulated

"I see it as part of our responsibility to sell the game to the casual fan, and the casual fan wants to be entertained, and I think we'll have that," Paulus told CBC 's Radio Active on Wednesday.

"We'll be an attacking team, we'll entertain the audience and the supporters. And we'll play good football."

In June, it was announced that Edmonton would have a team in the new Canadian Premier League. It will feature eight to 10 Canadian teams whose rosters will have a minimum of 50 per cent Canadian players.

Play is expected to start in April 2019.

Professional men's soccer has struggled to succeed in Edmonton, with the previous iteration of FC Edmonton, part of the North American Soccer League, going on hiatus last fall due to low attendance.

Paulus, 48, is aware that increasing the fan base is critical to the new team's success. He said his coaching style — "I'm an attacking manager for sure, I want to go forward all the time" — will add to the excitement of the games.

But his No. 1 strategy will be to have Edmontonians represented on the playing field and within the staffing ranks, he said.

"By having a core group of players that are from this city, that love this city, that will represent this city, I think that people will be on board with that," he said. "And they'll want to see these kids play. And that's where we'll start."

The ongoing World Cup allows even non-soccer fans to understand more about the finesse of the game and the passion it inspires. That deep emotional attachment hasn't yet arrived in North America but, Paulus said, "we're on the cusp."

Among the next steps for Paulus is taking the U17 academy team to Ireland, where they will play in an international youth tournament. On his return, he'll hire his staff then start the work to select players.

The team's home field will be Clarke Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 4,500.

Asked about his hopes for the future, Paulus has something much bigger in mind.

"Pie in the sky," he said. "I hope to see our own stadium that's soccer-specific, that's something we can go to as a home field and have that packed with fans and supporters."

The World Cup is showcasing "the pure emotion and passion that people around the world have for this sport. And I hope that comes here."