Saturday, December 01, 2001

Canadians in Grimsby

Mariners Net London

But these aren't Cockneys by any stretch of the imagination - unless the sound of Bow Bells has travelled 5,000 miles. Because these Londoners are from London in Canada!

Grimsby Town have formed partnerships with two places in Canada, and a number of young football hopefuls and their parents and coaches will be coming over to Grimsby on Monday afternoon.

Ian Knight told the Official Website all about the Canadian set-up.

London is in Ontario, a city about three times the size of Grimsby, and with its own semi-professional 'soccer' club - called London City.

Town's interest though is in its tie-up with the local youth soccer set-up. The children there have to be keen - it may take TWO HOURS to travel to the club for training sessions - but football is now the number one participation sport for youngsters.

Recently the youngsters have tied up with the semi-professional club which plays in the CPSL - the Canadian Professional Soccer League - and the more likely lads train with the semi-professionals.

One of their youngsters - called Tyler Hemming - became the youngest Canadian professional. He came to Grimsby Town last season and impressed the coaching staff here. He will return to Blundell Park in March for further assessment, and with a view to earning himself a professional contract with the Mariners for the 2002-3 season.

The Canadian coaches run similar physical and skill assessments to those of our own coaches, and though this does not give a 100% picture of any boy's talent, it certainly helps Ian Knight and his staff to have some idea of the capabilities of each young player.

Why should Canada's young soccer players wish to cross the Atlantic? "There is no professional league to aspire to," says Ian. And as well as that there are big geographical and climatic problems - Canada being a huge country, with major snowfalls in the winter."

"Nor are there any developmental leagues like there are in the UK - where there are junior leagues, local leagues, semi-professional and professional leagues."

London is the Mariner's second tie-up with a Canadian club.

The first is Abbotsford just outside Vancouver. This came about through a friend of ex-Town player Alec Brader - Barry Crocker, who is the Canadian National Physiotherapist. A group from Abbotsford was brought over last March for twelve days.

The Abbotsford club has teams from under 8s to under 18s, of both sexes.

Abbotsford run a number of teams at each age level, with the elite team being called the "Abbotsford Mariners" which plays in the same strip as our own Grimsby Town.

Last summer, a combined team of players from Abbotsford and Grimsby Town took part in the 'Surf Cup' in California, a truly international side.

With significant liaisons like this, it might not be too long before Grimsby Town have a Canadian playing in the first team at Blundell Park.

A group of players and their families will be at Blundell Park for the next few days, starting today (Tuesday), and Mariners' Net will bring you further reports on them later this week.


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