The Halifax Wanderers are proud to announce the signing of local goalkeeper Kieran Baskett to a contract for the 2021 season with a club option for 2022.
The 19 year old Halifax native is returning home after playing the last few years in the United States, including a season at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where he earned the starting goalkeeper position as a freshman.
“Adding Kieran is another signal of our intent to give local players opportunities to prove themselves at the professional level,” stated Matt Fegan, HFX Wanderers VP of Football Operations. “His signing can inspire other young Nova Scotians currently developing with our local clubs that they too can go all the way.”
The six-foot-three keeper made 18 starts for William & Mary in 2019, racking up 1675 minutes in the Colonial Athletic Association as the school’s no.1 goalkeeper.
“I’m happy that I have the opportunity to come home and play for the fans in Halifax,” said Kieran Baskett. “I have been working the past three years to program my career and I am looking forward to representing my hometown.”
Wanderers Brand Manager Dylan Lawrence spoke with Kieran for his Wanderers Q&A series.
Dylan Lawrence: Congratulations on your first professional contract. What does it feel like joining a professional team in your hometown?
KB: It’s just really great to find my way home. I was down in the United States for the last three years trying to progress my career. When the opportunity came up I couldn’t resist and it’s been so exciting – I can’t wait to represent my hometown.
You’ve attended a few Wanderers Games in the past as a fan. Did you ever imagine yourself playing on the pitch and what that would feel like?
KB: It would really be a dream come true – the fans are great and I feel like it would give you such a boost playing in the Wanderers Grounds, especially in front of the home fans who I know many of. It would mean the world to me.
You and Scott Firth have history playing together on the Canada Games team. What was it like growing up together and then seeing him represent the HFX Wanderers?
KB: We grew up playing against each other – I played for Halifax City and he played for Suburban but we both came up through the provincial system until we both made it onto the Canada Games team. From there we went different ways; I went down to the United States and he stuck around here and played with the Wanderers in their first year. It definitely inspired me to be able to make the step up to the professional level – it made me think it was possible. I can only hope that people like Scott, Christian and myself will inspire the next generation of players in the Atlantic Provinces.
Could you tell me a bit more about your time in the United States?
KB: I played at the Canada Games in 2017 and I was lucky enough to join that team when they travelled to Winnipeg – that was a really great experience. But after that I asked myself, ‘where do I go from here’? I was in the 10th grade, I thought I was going to stagnate if I didn’t go anywhere and at this time the Canadian Premier League didn’t exist. I decided to go to a boarding school in Maryland – I did that for my 11th and 12th grade. Lots of ups and downs but it worked out and I got into the College of William and Mary. I went there for my first year of University and had a really great time – earned my spot as the starting Goalkeeper there. I came back for the March break and with the pandemic I wasn’t able to travel back to school. As my family often says, things happen for a reason so I think that’s exactly what happened and I decided to stay in Halifax and apply for Dalhousie University. Then the opportunity with the Wanderers came up and I couldn’t resist – it worked out really well for me.
Joining the 2021 squad you’ll be training with the likes of Christian Oxner and Jan-Michael Williams. What excites you about that opportunity?
KB: Well I’ve known Christian for a long time and I think we work well together. I really looked up to Christian a couple years ago when I saw him play and I think he has the potential to make it to the next level. It’s pretty cool that the two of us goalkeepers are local – plus having Jan-Michael who I’ve only met briefly but seems like a really great coach, a lot of experience and has played at a high level and I can’t wait to learn from him. In terms of training alongside Christian, I think we’re really going to push each other to get better and compete. When it comes down to it only one of us will have the starting spot so it’s really a competition to earn that position. He’s the established number one going into the season but I’m going to push him.
With this being your first professional contract, what parts of this first year experience are you looking forward to the most?
KB: The fans, that’s what I’m really looking forward to. Other than that I’m just excited to get everything out of the experience that I can – I’ve never been at the professional level before so this will be new to me and I’m looking forward to taking it all in, step-by-step.
Growing up in Halifax before there was a professional team in your backyard, what motivated you to aim for the professional level?
KB: I just always loved playing the game and the youth soccer in Nova Scotia has a good setup so I was always being pushed until I decided to go to the United States. I’m also quite the soccer junkie so I enjoy watching the Champions League games and the English Premier League games, so that always inspired me to try to make it to that next level one day. Once I heard the Canadian Premier League was coming, that gave me extra motivation while I was in the United States to train harder.
Now that youth soccer players from the area have this opportunity close to home, what would be your message to them about what it takes to make it to the next level?
KB: You gotta want it. You have to take any opportunity you have to play. There aren’t as many opportunities in the area (currently), so it’s a really good place to be seen. You need to go out on the days you don’t want to – whether it’s the middle of January and cold, I’d be going to the Dalhousie field and getting my touches in. You just gotta want it and work hard.