Their efforts have grown a petition to over 200 signatures. In addition to a large number of local residents, their petition also boasts signatures from Danny Dichio (ex-TFC), Tom Saintfeit (Gambian National team manager), and Niall Quinn (former Irish International & Sunderland AFC Chairman). They hope their petition will help demonstrate the need for a L1O side in Barrie.
Facilities, Player Pool, Technical Gap
When it comes to the big questions, the Kempenfelt Crew are more selective in their replies.
According to Ronan, the Crew is confident they will have a suitable facility for L1O. Understandably, they “can not divulge on a prospective stadium until a formal approach has been made.”
Similarly, although they acknowledge that meeting the steep requirements found in L1O’s standards and operation manuals is a “long arduous process,” they’re confident they can bring L1O soccer to Barrie.
With no OPDL side in the region, launching L1O & L1O Reserve squads simultaneously presents a major hurdle for a potential team in Barrie. A minimum of 46 players will be needed to fill out the Kempenfelt Crew’s vision, but Ronan was assured “the city has a good supply of players,” and acknowledges that “Barrie SC does a great job of bringing them through.”
He’s also quick to note that a number of players, who are too old for U21, have contacted him inquiring about having a chance to play in Barrie’s L1O squad. Regardless of where the players come from, like most L1O teams, they plan to revisit player recruitment when they’re much nearer their goal, and will “most probably organize some trials.”
Running a soccer team is not a cheap endeavour, so Jacob & Ronan are very active contacting people “not only in the league, but also … involved in the system at that level.”
With the team being built from the ground up, start-up costs are one of the prime concerns. As is the question of who will be the team’s owners.
This has led the Kempenfelt crew to perform some initial inquiries with businesses in the area. Not only are they confident they will “gain sponsorship from the local business community,” they believe “the money to run the club would come through private sponsorships.”
With a variety of reference letters, including 2 from MLS Clubs, 1 USL Club, a club based in Northern Ireland, and a number of phone calls with L1O, the response from various established leagues & teams has been overwhelmingly positive.
Barrie is a growing community and would make for a great community to host an L1 club.Dino Rossi, Commissioner — L1O Men’s Division
The encouragement doesn’t stop at the club & league level. “The Mayor and the politicians [we spoke with] were excited by the prospect of bringing soccer to Barrie.” Their advice should help the Kempenfelt Crew navigate the municipal bureaucracy, which will pave the way for the team’s eventual launch.
Finally, with over 150,000 people in Barrie, there are a number of high-level amateur clubs. With a meeting scheduled between the Kempenfelt Crew and the board of Barrie SC, who are “the main fixture in the Barrie Soccer scene,” scheduled for February, the effort to bring local amateur clubs on board with their quest for a Division 3 squad is well underway.
The Kempenfelt Crew is reaching out to all potential stakeholders to ensure the formation of a League1 Ontario side in Barrie can be a well-supported reality.
What’s next for Kempenfelt Crew?
While they continue to build their network and approach contacts behind the scenes, Ronan and Jacob promise to continue “promoting the idea of soccer in Barrie and engaging with the local community.”
While they wait, soccer fans in Barrie will need to content themselves with TFC & York9. As L1O aims to expand into Simcoe County prior to any talk of moving into Northeastern Ontario, we’re hoping they won’t have to wait much longer.