In a year of uncertainty and frustration, the HFX Wanderers sparked a ray of hope with a pre-season training camp.
While the start of Canada’s 2021 Premier League season is unclear – and how a season will even be played – Wanderers fans need encouragement to see professional footballers back on the pitch.
However, Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart warned those optimistic that a season is upon us.
“There is too much uncertainty,” Hart said in a recent interview. “They have a number of provinces that have their individual problems. And then there is the subject of travel. We just have to wait and see. “
HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart speaks to his players during the team’s training camp at the BMO Soccer Center in Halifax. – Trevor MacMillan
Meanwhile, 28 players were in Halifax for the pre-season camp that began March 22nd at the BMO Soccer Center and will stay in the house through the end of this month.
Hart said the club follows provincial and federal health guidelines. Any player arriving from outside the region ended their mandatory quarantines and passed negative COVID tests before joining the team.
Three international players are not yet in camp and will have to undergo various COVID protocols upon arrival.
“We can have the entire squad and we use the entire field and we have everyone out there,” said Hart.
“There is so much uncertainty about what is going on. But some players made it their business to get here early because they didn’t want to get into a situation. They came and got through their quarantines. That helped us. “
We don’t know when the season will start. As it is now, we just have to wait and see what the vaccines are like and how we can get things under control. We play it day after day, week after week.
The Wanderers have signed at least 18 players for this season, including 13 – Christian Oxner, Mateo Restrepo, Jems Geffrard, Jake Ruby, Peter Schaale, Eriks Santos, Omar Kreim, Andre Rampersad, Cory Bent, Alessandro Riggi, Akeem Garcia and Alex Marshall and Joao Morelli – from the 2020 squad that made it to the CPL final.
The newcomers Pierre Lamothe, Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Samuel Salter, Kieran Baskett and Morey Doner were signed in the off-season.
Also in camp are the club’s two CPL-U Sports Draft Picks (former Carleton attacker Stefan Karajovanovic and Montreal defender Kareem Sow), former Cape Breton Capers defender Jamie Watson and seven local youth prospects on trial – Anthony Phelps, Brandon Phelps , Kaveh Wornell, Sulley Elomrani, Domenic Lacroce, Scott Firth, and Luke Green.
Karajovanovic, Sow and Watson are battling for a CPL-U sports development deal and a spot on the 2021 list.
The club monitors the seven trialists on their U23 program if they do not receive their own contract for the first team.
“We have a large part of the squad and a number of young people who also train with us. It’s a good mix, ”said Hart.
“We are in the phase where eight players were released from quarantine just last week and are training at a different level than the rest of the squad because they are still trying to find their legs. We don’t need them to be hurt. It’s really all about fitness work, something like that. It will be a while before we start to get things going, maybe the second week of April. “
HFX Wanderers players work on their skills during the Canadian Premier League team’s training camp at the BMO Soccer Center in Halifax. – Trevor MacMillan
With COVID numbers in Nova Scotia much lower than most parts of Canada, hikers are lucky enough to be able to hold a camp.
The restrictions imposed by the Province of Ontario have delayed preparatory camps for York United Football Club and two-time defending champions Forge FC. The Atlético Ottawa extension traveled to Madrid last Thursday and will hold their pre-season training session in Spain.
“One of the dangers is that we could have these players for too long without really playing meaningful games,” said Hart. “And then there is the inability to play meaningful games. We only do intra-squad stuff and fitness work.
“We don’t know when the season will start. As it stands now, we just have to wait and see what the vaccines are like and how we can get things under control. We play it day after day, week after week. “