Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 11/6/2018 (619 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A contingent of soccer fanatics are preparing their battle songs for the day Valour FC takes the pitch in Winnipeg.
Red River Rising is the supporters group for the city’s new Canadian Premier League professional men’s soccer team, Valour Football Club. On June 6, about two dozen Red River Rising members, clad in red and white and armed with horns and drums, marched from Nicolino’s Restaurant to Investors Group Field where the Winnipeg Football Club and the Canadian Premier League officially announced the launch Valour FC.
On the pitch, the raucous group lauded Wade Miller, chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Football Club, and David Clanachan, commissioner of the Canadian Premier League, as the pair introduced Valour FC’s crest and colours, and chants of "Take my money!" spilled forward from the group as the team’s merchandise was revealed.
Christopher Raposo, a founding member of the supporters group, said when he caught wind of rumours a professional soccer league was on its way to Winnipeg he immediately got on board with the idea. The U10 Bonivital boys soccer coach and men’s league player connected with Adam Johnston and Nicky Cottee, two equally enthusiastic soccer fans, and began plotting a supporters group for Winnipeg’s team.
Like the massive supporters groups in Europe that fill entire sections of stadiums and remain standing and singing for their team for a full 90 minutes, Red River Rising is committed to seeing Valour FC succeed in Winnipeg, Raposo said. The group also wants to promote the local talent set to populate Valour’s roster, both on game days and throughout the year, and lead the enthusiasm for the club.
"The mission is to make sure we grow support for soccer in the community, and what we want to be and what we want to accomplish is an identity that is the loudest supporters group for (Valour FC)," Raposo said. "What we want to do is leave a positive impression before the game with activities like marches to the stadium, and during the game in the stands, we’ll be singing, with drums and flags, and positive — hopefully funny — chants."
Promoting the new club isn’t just for fun, Raposo pointed out. It’s also critical for young soccer players.
"The big thing is to make sure the team is supported so youth can see that there is an opportunity for them in soccer locally," he said.
"I know kids that play hockey see a Jets or a Moose game and think maybe I can do that one day. That’s what we’re going to have for soccer players."
Across the country, three other CPL teams have been announced — the HFX Wanderers (in Halifax), York 9 FC (Toronto), and Cavalry FC (Calgary) — and local supporters groups are quickly organizing around the new clubs, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Cottee, a River Heights resident, said Red River Rising is looking for more people to join its ranks and expects to see more of Winnipeg’s soccer community get involved now the club is official.
"This is really exciting because Canadian players are going to get so many development opportunities, and I’ve never ever in my life lived in a city with a professional soccer team," she said. "It’s been a bit of a slow struggle getting the rest of the city to believe. That’s why today has been so exciting.
"I really feel like this is a city where people come out and support the teams," Cottee added. "I believe people who aren’t soccer fans are going to come out and enjoy the experience."