Is A League1 Prairies In The Pipeline?
According to the Calgary Foothills Twitter page, plans for a League1 Prairies are on the horizon.
In a press release made earlier today, three Alberta-based sides and FC Manitoba will partake in a Exhibition Series during the upcoming summer months.
According to the document released, there will be 8-12 games between these four teams, showcasing the clubs before a ‘Central League 1’ aims to arrive next year.
As for the teams taking part in this year’s Exhibition Series, three of the four are based in Alberta, with the Calgary Foothills arguably the biggest club of the lot. The longtime USL2 side has a multitude of connections to the CPL’s Cavalry, so the side’s participation in the exhibition and prospective league is huge.
The other two Alberta-based teams are from Edmonton. The Edmonton Scottish are quite popular in the amateur circuit in Alberta. With teams at multiple levels of the game and former Eddies head coach Jeff Paulus involved, they carry a significant part of this announcement.
Born To Be Soccer Academy also hail from the Albertan capital, and is the newest of the foursome. Created in 2013, it has a ‘Quality Soccer Provider’ distinction from Canada Soccer and has already developed several youngsters who reached CPL heights.
The only club not in Alberta is FC Manitoba (formerly known as WSA Winnipeg), who hail from the United Soccer League in the US. Along with the Thunder Bay Chill, they are the only Canadian-based clubs left in the pre-professional pathway in the US, though both haven’t featured in it for some time now.
There was no mention of any teams from Saskatchewan, but it is likely that there will be teams in this potential pro-am league from the province. There is nothing else known about how many teams could potentially partake in the league’s first season or anything along those lines.
This announcement is hardly a surprise, especially with Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Junior hinting at this in an interview a month and a half ago.
Furthermore, last year there were rumours of a second tier coming to Canada. These teams as well as some of the inaugural League1 BC clubs were part of these rumours, so it looks like the pro-am circuits are taking a more regionalized approach to competition.
It will be interesting to see how the Exhibition Series unfolds. Should a pro-am standardized Prairie league come out of this, it will be a continued boost for football in Canada.
With League1 Ontario, PLSQ, and League1 BC, there have already been several steps made to make pro-am level available across the country. Only the Maritimes do not have any concrete plans of making a league at this level.
The potential for promotion and relegation in Canada continues to grow as a result of news like these, particularly with Ontario doing so in 2024 and Quebec looking likely to follow suit.
The Exhibition Series and news surrounding a Central League 1 in Canada looks promising. Hopefully it will be a success so that within the next two years, Canada will grow to have a fourth league at this level.