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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.

Monday, 14 May 2012

First Person View – Umbro Centennial Kit Launch, CSA Media Conference, & the Impending Qualifiers

    I had the pleasure of attending last week’s Umbro kit launch at BMO Field on Wednesday afternoon. Doubtless by now you will have seen the celebratory kit and read up on what Stephen Hart will have had to say - there are many who report such facts much better than I, so we’ll stick to my impressions of the whole affair.

    It was my first time, and being of the skittish variety I was quite nervous before the event. Forgot my phone, didn’t realize until I got to the subway, was worried I would be late and have to scrap the whole thing. That is until a pair of media members ended up on the same streetcar I took to the exhibition grounds; that calmed my fears somewhat and eavesdropping on tales from travels within CONCACAF was entertaining.

    Enter the bowels of the stadium, hadn’t been there before. Neat to have a look around, see some familiar faces and hear a recognizable voice or two. The room was stiflingly hot, but the conference soon began.

     The details of the Centennial celebrations were announced – ten days of reflection to begin on May 24th culminating in The Soccer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the match itself against the USA.

    Following a few questions from the floor regarding the upcoming qualification campaign and the recent elections – point targets, preparations, the need for a team effort, and the obligatory mention of Junior Hoilett and Jonathan de Guzman, of course – all well-handled by Coach Hart and CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli, it was time for the presentation.

    Rumour had it that the new strip would be a radical departure from the norm and it was pointed out to me seconds before the reveal that there was an awful lot of blue adorning the wall displays at the conference.

    Umbro Canada Vice-President Mike Shoemaker took to the pulpit and laid out the pathway that led to the new design.

    In their search for some special and unique display, one to celebrate a hundred years of soccer in Canada, they scoured the history books and came across some clippings from the first-ever – recorded, at least – international match played in Canada. June 27th, 1925 in Montreal’s Alexandra Park, Canada took on our neighbours to the south and defeated them 1-0.

    What better way to acknowledge our history than with a limited edition kit in homage to that worn on that momentous day.

    Royal Blue; White-collared; with a fierce old-time Red maple leaf emblazoned above the heart; sharp, fetching, I love it. In fact it is some what of a shame they will only be worn once – twice, actually; once per gender - in the replay of that first match against the US on June 3rd – and when the Women’s National Team face the US at the Rio Tinto Stadium on June 30th.

    I for one am very much looking forward to the sight of Canada’s Royal Blue’s versus the Red and White striped American Waldo jerseys in the Centenary match; there’s a historic feel to the two very modern kits and as Canada embarks on a new age it makes perfect sense to look back and face our closest geographical rivals once more.

    If you like the jersey, be sure to have a peak at the jacket; it’s classic. Both are now available from the CSA shop. The jersey is limited quantity – 1912 to be exact – as too is the jacket, so act quick. But not too quick, I still have to grab mine; I passed on my gifted one to my Dad.

    Ticket sales for the upcoming matches – friendly against the USA on June 3rd and in qualifying proper as host to Honduras on June 12th - were reported as strong, but if you haven’t picked yours up yet, what are you waiting for?

    The campaign kicks off on June 8th against Cuba in Havana, before the important match against Honduras in Toronto on the 12th; The Voyageurs have been good enough to set up a charity drive through Toronto Community Housing; donations are being collected to send a kid to the Honduras match, twenty dollars buys a ticket in the South End. Dig deep and help open the game to the next generation of fan; whether you can’t make it and would like to send a child in your place, or can help spread the love, it’s a cause as worthy as any – I did just now.

    I will be joining the Voyageurs in the Supporter’s Section, and though I’m not the most expressive or vociferous of souls, I will be doing my best to cheer on our side.

    Four kit models were presented to the assembled media and cameras – Kara Lang, Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, and Jim Brennan, before the event was moved out to the pitch for photo ops and one-on-one interviews.

    I’d never been at pitch level before, nor had I seen a completely empty stadium. After mulling around a bit, saying hello to the folks I knew, I decided it was best to get out of the way and let the proper journalists get on with their work.

    Exiting through the player’s tunnel was admittedly a bit of a thrill; a glimpse of several of the younger squad members enjoying a bit of footy tennis in the pitched indoor exercise room and of Nick Soolsma chatting on his phone outside the ground was a fine closing note on an enjoyable day where I’d stretched beyond my place.

    Duncan Fletcher – of Waking the Red fame – and I retired to a nearby pub to discuss the day, Canada, Toronto FC, and a myriad of other topics, enjoying a sunny Spring afternoon with a pint or two.

    Be sure to check out his two posts on the new kit, paying particular importance to the comments at the bottom of the first.

    A hearty thanks to all the fine folks at the CSA – Max Bell and Richard Scott, in particular – for allowing me access to the inner circles of Canadian Soccer and to Umbro Canada for their generosity.

    Apologies if I seemed a little star-struck; this blogger was out of his element, but I enjoyed myself immensely.




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