First To Worst: Bassett Details Why He Joined Atletico Ottawa
When an athlete makes a club move from first to worst, the biggest question is always why.
Former Pacific FC midfielder Ollie Bassett made such a move this week, departing from league champions Pacific FC to sign with Atletico Ottawa, who finished dead last after being the first side eliminated from playoff contention.
Despite the bottom-placed finish, a string of recent signings has turned heads to spark some belief that the capital city club may be on an upwards trend. Bassett evidently believes that change is on the cards.
Speaking with former Cavalry FC striker Jordan Brown on Footy 25/8, the 23-year-old midfielder detailed the why, when, and how behind the intra-league move which now sees him set for a multi-year stay in the nation’s capital.
Interested fans can check the exclusive video interview out below, with some key details after that:
As it turns out, Bassett’s biggest motivation was giving himself the best chance at gametime, with Ottawa’s longer-term contract offer adding enough incentive to convince him to sign.
“At the start of the season I started pretty well and I was playing the majority of the games,” reflects Bassett, “I found at the back end of the season that I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked – I don’t think I actually played the last four or five games.”
While Pacific FC had an option for a further season, Ollie spoke with Pa-Modou Kah and his coach staff about the seeking a move elsewhere in a bid for more playing time. They left the door open for him to come back, but things moved quickly after Atletico Ottawa expressed interest:
“It wasn’t until two weeks until after the final against Forge where everything was pretty much signed and sorted out before I went back to the UK for Christmas. It was actually a pretty easy and smooth process,” said the midfielder.
Ollie signed with the capital city club on a two-year deal with an option for a further year, which gives him a long term settlement to aim towards. He’ll be 24 by the time the season starts, and he says the next two seasons will be big in terms of securing a consistent role on a weekly basis.
That isn’t something he was able get at the end of the 2021 CPL season, with Bassett finding himself losing minutes to an in-form Manny Aparicio.
“I think I could have probably stayed and tried to really push myself and lock down a starting space, but I think Ottawa offered me a longer contract so there was more long-term security there. If I do well in the two years, I have an option for ’24 as well. I decided to go there and hopefully it pays off.”
While much of the Atletico Ottawa roster remains to be unveiled – including the club’s new head coach – right now it appears that Ollie’s biggest competition is Keven Aleman, who was one of the other four intra-league additions announced earlier this week. Bassett believes they’re pretty similar in terms of how they play, though the formation could lend to both of them sharing minutes instead of competing for them.
With Malcolm Shaw having bagged ten goals least season, he’s also looking forward to play in behind the Atletico Ottawa original, too. Of course, that isn’t to say that Bassett doesn’t have a shooting boot in his own locker:
The attacking midfielder has proven quiet adept in a central role, but is capable playing out on the left flank as well. Where the Leicestershire-born midfielder will ultimately be deployed will depend on the club’s as-yet-unknown head coach, though the former Yeovil Town youngster is keen to keep his professional minutes coming after spending several years outside of pro rankings.
Having earned a North Star Shield last season, he isn’t the only new Atletico Ottawa recruit who knows what it takes to win the league: Gatineau local Maxim Tissot has also been recruited, with the former Forge left-back having lifted the shield in 2020.
“Having a title or any championship on your football CV is one of the biggest things, whether you play in the final or not. You still go down as part of the squad that won the league,” says Bassett.
While it remains to be seen how Atletico Ottawa does, the intra-league move marks the first time an international athlete has transitioned between teams. Bassett seems a good pickup, especially for a team that struggled to move the ball forward in good speed – something his former club built its identity around.
Ollie Bassett arrives to Atletico Ottawa on a two-year contract with an option for 2024, ensuring that the former Northern Ireland youth international is set for a good spell at the capital.
Source: Footy 25/8