HFX Wanderers coach Stephen Hart is looking for “something special” as he continues to work on assembling the soccer team that will be one of the founding members of the brand new Canadian Premier League.
Having already watched players at the League’s open trials in Halifax, Montreal and Hamilton, Hart is hoping to find some exciting prospects to fill key positions in his squad as the tryouts move on to Toronto.
“The full back positions are complex. I’m also looking for a variety of players who can play wide positions in an attacking sense,” Hart said.
Boss already eyeing several targets
The former Canadian men’s national team boss is relishing the challenge of building a team from the start.
“Getting the right balance is the tricky part,” Hart said, on having his first squad of players ready in time for the league’s inaugural season, scheduled to start in the spring of 2019.
While the vast majority of players in the league will be Canadian, the Wanderers head coach has already identified a couple of foreign players as targets to sign. He’s also not ruling out the possibility of young Canadian players winning contracts through the tryouts.
“A couple of players caught my eye,” said Hart after the open trials in Halifax, Sept. 20 and 21.
Knowing the credentials of the other coaches in the league, Hart is confident fans across the country are going to be impressed by the level of play.
“A lot of people will be surprised at the standard,” adding as a former national team coach he’s been pressing for a national league in Canada for many years.
Hart believes the league is a huge step for the development of the game across the country.
Lead coach for the open trials, Alex Bunbury, is convinced the competition in the Canadian Premier League will ultimately improve the men’s national team.
“I think it will take us to another level,” Bunbury said. “It’s a Canadian League for Canadian players and created by Canadians.”
While it’s too early for Bunbury to predict how many players could earn jobs through the tryouts, he believes fans from coast to coast have lots to be encouraged about.
“They can expect to see talented Canadian players because we have them,” he said.
‘The experience is going to be unbelievable’
Founder and President of the Wanderers Derek Martin is feeling a buzz around Halifax and the Maritime region for the new league’s big kick-off.
“Haligonians and Nova Scotians want to be a part of the national conversation and it does feel like we’re growing into that kind of city,” he said.
Fans can also look forward to some memorable game day entertainment Martin said, with the club’s 6,000 seat stadium in a prime downtown location.
“The location of the Wanderers grounds makes it ideal for people to meet up with friends at restaurants and bars downtown before or after the game,” Martin explained. “The experience is going to be unbelievable.”
Wanderers squad to be in place by February
In attempting to create a special atmosphere inside the stadium, Coach Hart is planning to deliver a fast paced brand of football that will inspire the fans.
“I like the ball on the ground and I like to move quickly and I like it to be progressive,” he said.
The open trials continue to move across the country through the fall with the final stop in Vancouver Island in November.
That’s when the Wanderers coach will have a better sense of the players he wants to pick to wear the team’s colours.
Stephen Hart expects to have a final squad in place by February ready for the new league to begin next spring.