Local trio making an impact on and off pitch for Ottawa Fury

Judy Garland knew it. Macaulay Culkin knew it. And now, some new members of the Ottawa Fury know it: There's no place like home.

Ottawa Fury proving its commitment to next generation of local soccer players through new signings

Maxim Tissot, born in Aylmer, Que., says professional soccer academies, like the one run by Ottawa Fury FC, will help improve the quality of players produced locally. (Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography)

Judy Garland knew it. Macaulay Culkin knew it. And now, some new members of the Ottawa Fury know it: There's no place like home.

The NASL soccer team is on a two-game win streak heading into Saturday night's showdown against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at TD Place.

The streak happens to coincide with the signing of three local players who are returning to the capital to continue their pro careers.

Aylmer-born Maxim Tissot, Barrhaven's Eddie Edward and Orleans native Jamar Dixon all had left the city to pursue their professional aspirations.

This commitment to going local from head coach and general manager Paul Dalglish is meant not only to improve the team which has struggled this season, but also to show young players there's a future for them in the game and they can aspire to play professionally here.

We've got to inspire the generation that's coming through to want to play soccer and to be part of the Ottawa Fury.- Ottawa Fury FC head coach Paul Dalglish

"I want to make sure that, if a player is good enough and they want to play in Ottawa, that we can provide that opportunity for them. We've got to inspire the generation that's coming through to want to play soccer and to be part of the Ottawa Fury and give them goals to achieve.

"Seeing Max, Jamar and Eddie on the pitch gives them the opportunities to see that their dream is achievable, and it's really, really important for us as an organization to do that," says Dalglish, who also wants Ottawa to be a development hot-spot for the Canadian Men's National Team.

Ottawa Fury FC's Eddie Edward, in a game versus the Carolina Railhawks July 27, hopes to inspire other local players into the professional ranks. (Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography)

It's something the generations of Ottawa soccer players who preceded Edward, Tissot and Dixon didn't experience.

Tissot, now 24, left the region at 14 spending most of his development years, from academy to pro ranks, with the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer. 

"Now with the programs, with the academy that the Fury has, that all the MLS teams have now, kids can learn a lot quicker and learn stuff they should learn when they're six, seven, eight years old and not learn it two years later. And I think that's what happened with my generation and the generations before," says Tissot, who credits Benoit Lafond, his coach him from age eight to 10, with getting him on the right path.

The same was true for Edward, who says his parents needed to go the extra mile, and pay the extra money, to get him noticed by the country's soccer scouts.

Jamar Dixon made his home debut between the Ottawa Fury FC and Carolina Railhawks at TD Place Stadium, July 27, 2016. (Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography)

"When I was growing up there was more of a highlight on kids from Toronto," says Edward. "And so kids from Ottawa often got overlooked. Luckily, I had great parents and great family who supported me and did everything for me to get to tournaments and get seen, pay what ever money they had to pay so I could play. So it wasn't an easy road but without their sacrifice I wouldn't be here."

Perhaps the most homesick of the trio has been Jamar Dixon who's been plying his trade in Finland and Sweden for the past three years.

"It's home. It's always home. It's just now we have a professional team and I'm back in the mix ... So far it's been fantastic here," says Dixon, 27, who played club soccer against Edward in and around Ottawa.

For Dixon, from driving down Riverside to get to the stadium or visiting his favourite restaurant.

"There's nothing like home," said Dixon.

"Every time I come back to Ottawa I have to go back to Tropical Garden. It's a Jamaican restaurant. Plus, they're family friends as well. They've known me since I was a baby."

Ottawa Morning's Hallie Cotnam visited the Ottawa Fury trio at TD Place this week. Here's the full interview.