by Devon Rowcliffe
A little over 150 years ago, around the time the rules of association football were being drawn up, a club of enthusiastic Irishmen laced up their boots for a game against a charity team known as St. George’s Society. This match did not take place in Dublin or London, but rather in a young colonial city on the shores of Lake Ontario which just a quarter-century earlier had been christened ‘Toronto.’
From this humble beginning, the nascent sport of football spread rapidly across the land of Canada, finding eager participants as far away as Vancouver Island on the Pacific coast of British Columbia just a few years later. Despite its notable soccer history, Canada curiously lacks a domestic national league, making it one of the only countries of its stature, population, size and wealth anywhere in the world to go without.
A previous endeavour to create a Canadian league in 1987 was a financial disaster and folded after just six turbulent seasons. A second attempt now looms at manufacturing a professional soccer league out of the elusive ether that encircles Canada’s most popular participatory sport. Whether this effort will be a success that creates a passion for club football in such urban outposts as Regina and Saskatoon, or instead becomes yet another footnote in an ultimately doomed quest for a national league, occupies the minds of Canadian admirers of the beautiful game.