Winnipeg’s newest pro sports franchise is mere days away from its opening kickoff, and its coach and general manager couldn’t be more excited for Winnipeg fans to see their new Canadian Premier League (CPL) team in action.
WATCH: Coach Rob Gale speaks with Global’s Brittany Greenslade about inaugural season beginning
Valour FC head coach Rob Gale said the local history behind the team’s name and identity should help local fans build a connection to the team, which has no history of its own.
Valour FC is named after the three local First World War heroes who each earned the Victoria Cross for heroism – and all coincidentally lived on Winnipeg’s Pine Street, later renamed Valour Road.
“That story really resonates for all of us and gives us a platform to build on, and all the values we’re looking for – the courage, the honour, the pride you take into sport – we can take that from the highest level there,” said Gale.
“It’s a great name. For a team with no history to build on that and everything that’s emotive about the story, and something that’s unique to Winnipeg and Manitoba so it’s something we can all get behind.”
WATCH: New professional soccer club honours Winnipeg war heroes
Gale, who spent time coaching Canada’s national soccer teams, said he’s long recognized the level of homegrown talent in this country, and he’s happy to see it being recognized by launching a national, FIFA-sanctioned, top-tier league like the CPL.
Having pro players in the local community, especially players who are from Manitoba themselves, will make a big impact on young sports fans, he said.
One-third of Valour FC’s playing squad is from Manitoba.
“What we’ll see now is local heroes,” said Gale.
“There’s the attachment. You can go and watch professional games. Without that, previously, it’s hard for young people to have (soccer players as) their role models – it’ll be more like to be the (Mark) Schiefeles and Andrew Harrises.
“It’s so important to have those young local heroes, people you can aspire to be, and sort of dangle that carrot in front of young people, and now we have that.”
Valour debuts Wednesday in B.C. in an away game vs. Pacific FC, and their home opener takes place Saturday at Investors Group Field against FC Edmonton.