Manitoba

Elite Winnipeg soccer players already dreaming about a spot on city's new pro team

Hope and excitement were in the air for the WSA Winnipeg soccer team's evening practice as news about a new professional soccer team coming to Winnipeg sank in.

Valour FC will be part of the fledgling Canadian Premier League for its inaugural season

Kaelan Budhoo is one of many Winnipeg WSA players who are excited about the future of soccer in Winnipeg after hearing the news of a new team coming to the city next year. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Hope and excitement were in the air at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex as news about a new professional soccer team coming to Winnipeg sank in.

"That is everybody's goal...to play professionally," said Prince Amara, who was practising with his WSA Winnipeg teammates Wednesday night.

The Canadian Premier League announced earlier in the day that a Winnipeg franchise, called Valour FC, will be part of the new league for its inaugural season, playing next year at Investors Group Field.

Although they currently compete in the Premier Development League's Heartland Division, against teams from Thunder Bay and the U.S. Midwest, many of the players on WSA Winnipeg are already looking at the new pro team as a potential next step.

"I look forward to trying out for that team," said Kaelan Budhoo. "I think playing in your hometown is always more special than anything else."

Some players say the the new all-Canadian league will give Canadian soccer talent a chance to compete with other countries internationally.

'Fulfil their dreams'

"In the past, Canada's soccer hasn't really had a place to develop our players," said Will Brown. "It is especially noticeable internationally how we can't really compete well, because all these other countries have these leagues where their players can grow up and all their players have professional environments."

He said he would quit his other job if he made the new team.

"I would completely focus, put everything possible into that team and develop from there and make soccer everything," he said.

"It would mean the world to have a contract there and play in any team, especially Winnipeg. I'd love to put on for my city and show our talent that we have here and make it great."

The coach of WSA Winnipeg, Eduardo Badescu, was also very optimistic after hearing the news.

"This is great for me and it is even better news for the team," he said. "It is another way for Canadian players to develop and for some of them to fulfil their dreams and for soccer in Canada to go to the next level."

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