Sunday, March 20, 2005

Soccer Minnow Has Bite

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press
March 20, 2005

He doesn't look or think like your run-of-the-mill soccer executive.

For one thing, he's about 100 years younger than most of the guys who make decisions concerning the sport. For another, he's actually willing to listen to new ideas in a sport that for too long has been run by neanderthals.

Ryan Gauss is general manager of London City's entry in the Canadian Professional Soccer League's women's division and is a vice-president of London City Soccer Club.

Gauss, who turns 19 today, has the nice hair with the blond highlights and wears fashionable clothes. He's the son of longtime "Mr. Everything" for City, Harry Gauss, and grandson of City president Markus Gauss.

Ryan is like a minnow among sharks in the soccer world. Finding someone that young in these waters is rather remarkable. In fact, Ryan's mother Kathleen was steamed that Harry got his son involved.

Ryan's team is in a division that has caused friction not only within the CPSL but in the Ontario Soccer Association, which has yet to recognize it. Part of the OSA's concern is a lack of elite talent for the women's leagues.

Ryan believes in the women's game and believes in the CPSL's participation.

"To be blunt, it's ignorant to say there's not enough talent to form another league," he says.

Did we mention Ryan was Harry's son? He isn't shy. You turn on your tape recorder for an interview, ask two questions and turn it off.

"There will always be skeptics no matter what I do," he says. "All I ask is not to judge me until they see my work. I am committed to this project. This is my family's team, my family's legacy. I want to be a part of it. Many people say, 'You are just a kid.'

"But I also work for the RCMP. I know how to present myself in business. I know how to get things done."

Gauss is studying political science with a major in history at King's University College. He works with the RCMP as an administrative assistant.

"I will run into skeptics who say, 'You are in this position just because of your last name,' " he said. "You know what? . . . it's because of my last name.

"But my family wouldn't have let me do this, the (club) executive wouldn't have agreed to put me in here if they didn't think I could do it. I just ask everyone not to judge my work until it's done. If I can't do it, then criticize me."

Gauss has been around soccer all his life. He has seen City go through good and bad times. That should have been enough to persuade him not to get involved. Instead he goes into this situation with a strong desire to make not only his team but the entire women's division successful, knowing that changing soccer is never easy.

"Maybe that's the problem. Maybe Canadian soccer is too traditional. We're in a rut. It's an old boys' club, and maybe it's time to let some new blood in. If I come in when I'm 45, I already have a jaded attitude (and) I'm not willing to be innovative and creative.

"That's a great thing about me being young. I'm out there talking to people. I get first-hand knowledge that maybe older people don't care about or don't want to listen to. Sometimes it's their way or the highway.

"Am I going to have age barriers in the soccer community, have problems with people listening to me? Of course, but I'm going to face them head-on. For all those people who say I'm going to disappear, they're in for a rude awakening. When I commit to something, I follow through."

A word to the sharks. This minnow has some serious bite.


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