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Halifax Wanderers Kieran Baskett

Baskett Reflects On Journey To Hometown Club: ‘Nowhere Else I’d Rather Be’

By on January 19, 2021 0 1918 Views

19-year-old Kieran Baskett may be the youngest goalkeeper currently signed to a Canadian Premier League club for the upcoming season, but he’s ready to stand tall against the opposition.

After signing for the Halifax Wanderers last week, the six-foot-four goalkeeper is eager to prove that he’s ready to enter the professional level of the footballing world and impress at his hometown club.

Baskett is a familiar face to locals in the Nova Scotia soccer scene, having developed with the Halifax City Soccer Club throughout his childhood before heading stateside to pursue more playing time. Having represented Nova Scotia at the Canada Games, attended a U-15 talent identification camp, and received a golden glove award at the US Youth Soccer National Championship, the new Wanderers signing arrives with high pedigree for a youth product.

For Baskett – who took in a few matches at Wanderers Grounds as a fan in the inaugural CPL season – signing for his hometown club is nothing short of a dream:

It’s a great feeling, especially with what’s going on in the world. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, to be honest. Nova Scotia is the safest place in the world right now, and it’s a dream come true to play for my hometown club.

Kieran Baskett

Kieran had returned home from Baltimore last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, completing his spring semester with the College of William and Mary remotely. In the fall, he got in touch with Halifax gaffer Stephen Hart, who took a look at the youngster and disclosed that the club was interesting in signing him to a professional contract.

Hart told him to take his time and stew on the decision, since signing with the Wanderers would make him ineligible for NCAA action if continued his education back stateside. After a few weeks of discussion with his family, he opted to sign for the Canadian Premier League side anyway.

Baskett will face competition from another Haligonian for the goalkeeper position, with Golden Glove nominee Christian Oxner having signed on for a third year with the CPL club. The duo actually stem from the same goalkeeper program growing up, and have already been training together for the last few months during the offseason.

Baskett is a product of the Halifax City Soccer Club, where he plied his trade as a hopeful goalkeeper from the age of four to fifteen, when he represented Nova Scotia at the Canada Games. As one of a limited selections of keepers at the local club, he often played one or two age groups up, which forced him to focus on his technique and gave him a head start in his development.

His time at the Canada Games left him eager to pursue a career as a goalkeeper, but there wasn’t a clear stepping stone in Halifax to build on those aspirations at the time. At that point, the teenager made a big life choice: he went to boarding school at McDonough in Baltimore, which gave him plenty of developmental game time that he wouldn’t have received back home.

That gap in the player pathway is something that the Halifax Wanderers hope to address with the announcement of both a new U-23 program and free local youth training to select Nova Scotian athletes, which is something Baskett thinks will go a long way in identifying more local talent:

I think this U-23 program is really great for the local players, because as I said when I finished the Canada Games there was really nowhere to go. I think this’ll be a great opportunity for players aged 16-23 to make that step up or have a better path to make it up to the next level.

Kieran Baskett

Baskett described his two years at McDonough as integral to his development, stating that he wouldn’t be the player he is today if he hadn’t made the decision to leave home at such a young age.

After completing two years of boarding school, Baskett joined the College of William and Mary for his freshman year, making 18 starts in NCAA action and earning two defensive player of the week nods in 2019. His old highschool coach also coached for Baltimore Celtic SC, where he was able to play almost entirely year-round outside of school.

Baskett quickly became the starting shot stopper for the for Baltimore Celtic, earning a golden glove at the US Youth Soccer National Championship in 2019 as his side made it all the way to the final. He was set to return to Baltimore before the COVID-19 pandemic convinced him it was best to stay home in 2020.

Goalkeeper Kieran Baskett

As the 2021 Canadian Premier League season approaches, Baskett is still home preparing for his first professional season. He’s enrolling at Dalhousie University with plans to finish his education in Canada, closing the chapter on his time in Baltimore.

He’s been enjoying spending time with his family, whom he also credits for his athletic nature: his Mother represented Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics, competing in the biathlon – though Baskett found himself more inclined to summer sports.

She was quite the athlete. I used to do a lot of skiing for her when she was young as well, so she might have been a little bit upset I turned to soccer. I always wanted to get shot at and stand in goal and not be out skiing and doing all the cardio. I think having those athletic genes has definitely helped me out.

Kieran Baskett

The Wanderers have announced that they plan to have at least six homegrown players in its CPL roster by 2026, with Baskett presently the only domestic U-21 talent to have signed for the upcoming season. As per league requirements, at least two more youngsters will be joining him in the coming months.

I think it’s really great that the league encourages youth players. I hope mostly that I don’t get pushed around too much, I’ll try to hold my own as one of the younger guys. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and really happy that they took a chance on such a young guy like me.

Kieran Baskett

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing a much smaller case count out east than in provinces like Ontario, Quebec, or Alberta, Baskett has been able to get some recent training time in with Suburban FC. Along with Oxner, he’s also been training with a few of the Halifax Wanderers squad and some local U-23 players over the last few weeks, too.

It’s safe to say that it’s been a whirlwind three years for the 19-year-old: he had a strong debut NCAA campaign that was followed by a year without being able to play, and now 2021 has brought him his first opportunity at the professional level. As he enters his first professional year with a contract that includes an option for 2022, it’ll be interesting to see how Baskett deals with the pressure of going professional.

The Halifax Wanderers have presently signed fourteen players for the 2021 Canadian Premier League season, with more player signings expected to roll out this month. The club has recently added York United full-back Morey Doner to the squad after confirming the bulk of its core returning roster.

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