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Canada's National Para team seeking new recruits for summer qualifier in Spain

BC based coach Drew Ferguson hoping to bolster his squad ahead of trip to Barcelona.

Jan 16, 2020 - Vancouver BC

On a rare snow day in Powell River BC, Canadian National Para coach Drew Ferguson is dreaming of Spain, and building a side that will compete against some formidable nations in the soccer world.

The 12th ranked Canadians will face Ireland, Australia and Germany among roughly 14 or more countries, in one of two big qualification tournaments.  The World’s top 8 nations including number 1 ranked Spain will be in Italy for the other qualifying event. 

Most Canadians, even hard-core soccer enthusiasts might not even realize Canada has a Para program, let alone one that’s been around for 14 years involving over 100 players.

Similarly, most people aren’t aware that there are only three specific criteria that define a Para soccer player.    

Competitors have mild cerebral palsy, have suffered a stroke, or experienced an acquired brain injury which can include serious car accidents or bad concussions.  Many of the almost 80 countries competing in Para soccer have ex-pros who are unable to participate anymore at the professional level as a result of concussions, however, are considered safe to take part at the Para level.

Another misconception Ferguson is quick to clarify, is the demands on the athletes during tournaments like the one in June:

“The players have to be very very fit, because it’s 7 aside, (including one keeper) on a big field, (86-90 yards by 56 yards wide) which is almost like 4 on 4 hockey, with 30 minute halves.  So if you’re not fit, there’s no place to hide!”

Canada has always had a decent side since the program first began in BC as an association for athletes with disabilities. However, over the last 5 plus years, participants are spread from one end of our country to the other including Moncton and Halifax.  That includes last year’s World Cup MVP Samuel Charron of Ottawa, and the 2018 Canadian Para player of the year Damien Wojtiw, who earned the golden gloves honour at the IFCPF (International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football) Copa America tournament in Ecuador. 

So the talent exists in our country, it’s just a matter of the coach being able to find it:

We have two players, who are arguably the best at their positions in the world, but of late, we’ve had a wee bit of trouble with new recruiting to bolster the squad, and that’s why we’re trying to put the word out.”

The program has held training camps all across the country, including the TFC Facility, and the Whitecaps training centre at UBC, but generally go where the bulk of the team resides.  

If you or anyone you know fits the criteria for the Para program, please e-mail Drew Ferguson directly: dferguson@canadasoccer.com.

About BC Soccer

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body with the mission to govern, promote and develop the game of soccer in British Columbia in a professional and progressive manner. Established in 1907, BC Soccer is the largest provincial sports organization (PSO) in BC and the third largest soccer-specific PSO in Canada with over 150,000 participants.  As a professional not-for-profit society and a member of Canada Soccer, BC Soccer is committed to providing the widest opportunities for existing and potential participants, as well as provide support in the most effective and appropriate way for current players, parents, volunteers, member clubs, leagues, and districts.

BC Soccer is comprised of more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,200 registered referees, and thousands of volunteer coaches, administrators, and soccer leaders. Working with its 40 member Youth Districts and 11 Adult Leagues as well as their affiliate member clubs, BC Soccer operates under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer’s vision is to ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to be involved in soccer as part of a lifelong commitment to an active, healthy and involved lifestyle.