Footy First: Drew Beckie Details His New Job With Atletico Ottawa
The Footy First Podcast hosted by Nick McVicar and Niko Giantsopoulos recently had Atletico Ottawa’s Drew Beckie on the show, where he explained what his new role as team manager fully entails and how it’ll impact the club.
The 32-year-old recently moved to the club office position after spending the last two seasons on the pitch with Atletico Ottawa, recently hanging up his boots to transition to a role where he hopes to benefit not just the players of the club, but those who might be hoping for a pathway towards it.
Beckie will wear a few hats in his role of team manager, with the veteran defender now assisting players with day-to-day support off the pitch while also being tasked with scouting, pathway building, and helping new club signings get settled (and, equally as important, stay settled) in the nation’s capital.
“These roles are important for players coming in and getting adapted to a new city, especially the international players,” explains Beckie. “If you think about it, you’ve signed somebody from Cameroon, or France, or wherever, and maybe they’ve never been to Canada and they don’t understand how the country works – they need a certain number, they need OHIP if you’re in Ontario, they need to get sorted in their apartment.”
The club had previously tasked with Atletico Ottawa Director of Football Operations J.D. Ulanowski with plenty of those duties, with Beckie now arriving to take a fair share off from his plate to free him up for more duties specifically related to activities on the pitch.
“Obviously at the top level those things are happening flawlessly. In our level, we’re trying to do everything we can with the budgets that we have to make sure that it’s easy and ready to go, so players can improve and players can be at their best at all times, because that’s ultimately what what you want.”
“I do more of the team management role,” adds Beckie, who says he and Ulanowski manage all of the team duties when combined. “Every week we’re meeting, every Monday, and making sure we have things done for the week, and every day I work alongside him and we report to Fernando Lopez.”
Beckie also reports to Carlos Gonzalez, the league’s coach of the year, to see if there are any issues that he can help with, be it simple things like food after training, or dealing with more complex situations should they arise.
He’ll also assist the club with scouting local talent. Atletico Ottawa already enjoys a big perk through this through its parent club Atletico Madrid, who have a team in Spain who identify talent and put them on Atletico Ottawa’s radar.
The club’s newest staff member has been vocal online about shining a spotlight of opportunity on local athletes, stating that the country has many different pathways that aren’t the easiest to progress through.
“We look at it as a tree, right? We have many different branches and stems that go everywhere. It’s never existed in Ottawa, a pathway really to the first team. With the Ottawa Fury and being a part of that team, I don’t think that the the club did a great job of connecting with everybody in a harmonic way to say ‘we’re not trying to steal your players, we’re trying to create a pathway and opportunities for local players in Ottawa and Gatineau to have the opportunity to play first team games, and first team minutes.”
With Atletico Ottawa, he hopes the club can now connect with local teams as part of a pathway that not only extends up to the Canadian Premier League, but beyond it as well.
“This is tangible, it’s right in front of you. You can do it, you can achieve it,” adds Beckie, who says he’s received thousands of messages from players interested in representing Atletico Ottawa.
“I’m glad that there’s ambition from local players and Canada-wide to want to play in Ottawa, to want to play in the CPL, it’s just expanding massively. But that’s not always easy. There’s a political game, there’s clubs that have been in existence for a long time in Ottawa. It won’t be an easy thing.”
“We’re working on a few things,” he teases on the local connections, “I can’t say too much at the moment.”
Reflecting on the end of his own playing career, Beckie admits his own retirement announcement caught the club somewhat by surprise: he hadn’t had discussions with the staff about it, and ‘snuck in’ his announcement on a Saturday without alerting the team.
“They knew that I was going to retire but I didn’t alert them that I was going to say something and that’s probably not the best way to do something. Fernando wasn’t too happy about that, but big picture is that I’m not a not a huge player in the game. I’m not a huge player in the world, and I will never be a Ronaldo or Messi, that’s not me, and never will be. So I felt that me announcing things wasn’t a huge deal. I had a great career, I always had ambitions to go higher and to be at the highest level and to play for Canada for many years, but that wasn’t my journey. That didn’t happen, and that’s okay.”
While he didn’t reach the heights that his young self had dreamed of, he’s happy with the career that he had, and simply felt that he was no longer capable of maintaining the high standards on the pitch he had set for himself.
The 32-year-old feels that by retiring perhaps earlier than most expected, he’s getting a head start on a new career that has a lot of potential.
“I’d love to work for Madrid or in Madrid at some point, or work for FIFA or do something in the game in the front office side. To be a CEO of a club, and help players move on from not just a CPL, but maybe the MLS or whatever it is…this was a time for me to say, okay, this is a start, and maybe I can go up from here. Whereas as a player, I knew that I wasn’t going to go play in a World Cup, I knew I wasn’t gonna go play in the Premier League, whatever it is. So this was a pretty easy decision for me, to be honest.”
Source: Footy First