Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

First Person View – Setting a Base

     When the CSA announced that all three of the upcoming second round World Cup Qualifiers would be taking place in Toronto there was much consternation amongst the diaspora of soccer fans across this vast nation. Petty regionalism aside there is something more important to consider.

     That the National Team use this round to qualify well - by winning and doing so impressively - is essential. The rest of the country will get behind the team should they do so, regardless of whether they play in their backyard or not. As much as the live event is still a great attraction, this is the age of television – well maybe not exactly true anymore, but the point remains – and the population has no qualms about getting behind and enjoying events from a great distance. The whole nation enjoyed the Olympics together and the IIHF World Junior Tournaments are a national institution regardless of their location – domestic or abroad.

     It should be noted that these fixtures fall on international breaks meaning that for any travelling players the ease of the trip, familiarity with their surroundings and the reliability of the facilities will be paramount. Easier and less travel means more time together for the squad, more time spent on the practice pitch and more time for media engagements.

     While it is lamentable that only the Toronto supporters and media will be directly exposed, the speed with which that information will crisscross the country will make the travelling road show less important than it may have been in the past.

     Remember soccer fans here claim affiliations with clubs and nations from all over the world. How often do they have to see them in person to maintain their affection?

     Yes it is unfortunate that Canada being such a huge nation makes travel virtually impossible for the average spectator. But the marketing and branding of the team is not what is important in this round – a cross-country goodwill ambassadorial exposé should wait for when the matches do not matter. That is the time to go to Moncton, not now. Should qualification be risked with on a whim? Or does slow-and-steady actually win the race. No one is dying to see Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis or St. Lucia play, so the focus needs to be on the squad and providing them with the best chance to do well.

     Will all of round three’s matches be in Toronto? Not likely, but if this routine leads to success maybe it should be. Would the likes of Cuba, Honduras or Panama really inspire the casual fans to come out and get behind the team? Past cycles have intimated that the travelling show does not help progression. Perhaps it would be best to localize all qualifying fixtures in Toronto to create a successful and comfortable pattern, using other locations for friendlies until they are broken in – with itineraries, locations, and facilities worked out and experienced in advance of the crucial matches.

     Returning home for these key international fixtures in the midst of a grueling league calendar can be a daunting imposition, is it not owed to our representatives that we provide them with what is best for them, even if it means putting aside personal preferences?

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