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Offline Tallman

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Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« on: December 05, 2018, 11:04:44 AM »
Halifax Wanderers coach Stephen Hart looks to Caribbean for potential winter signings
By Mary Thompson (canpl.ca)


Like many Canadians, HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart has his eye on traveling south this winter.

The Wanderers bench boss was in the Dominican Republic last week, scouting players who could join his Nova Scotia outfit ahead of the inaugural Canadian Premier League season.

“There were around 20 players (in the Dominican Republic), but I’m looking at everybody,” Hart offered.

“There are a couple key positions I’m looking at and there are definitely players that caught my eye.”

The trip is part of Hart’s plans to flesh out his roster ahead of the inaugural CPL season. Versatile fullback Zachary Sukunda was announced as the club’s first signing last week, making the 23-year-old Ottawa native one of ten inaugural signings in league history.

“I’m in negotiations with the players I want. It’s just a matter if we can get them signed,” Hart added.

The CPL got its first bit of foreign flavour this week when York9 FC confirmed the addition of Swedish striker Simon Adjei.

Hart enters the 2019 CPL season with substantial international experience in the region.

The 58-year-old managed 88 international matches in the confederation while at the helm of both Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. He has managed in four CONCACAF Gold Cups and several World Cup qualifying cycles.

“I wouldn’t say (l have expertise in) the Carribean specifically, I would say CONCACAF as a whole,” Hart added. “You have a variety of playing styles in (CONCACAF). You have the players from Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago that are extremely athletic, some of them technically sound as well.

“And you have the players from Latin America that are technically sound. It’s a matter of what you’re looking for positionally and if they could best suit your style of play.”

Hart’s trip to the Carribean comes as his CPL colleagues continue to mine places like the United Kingdom, Europe and South America for international talent.
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Offline Cocorite

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 01:50:31 PM »
Of course, I'm hoping that some of T&T players get an opportunity to develop there especially if the league proves to be more professional than the level of the Pro League.

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Offline Deeks

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018, 04:18:06 PM »
Of course, I'm hoping that some of T&T players get an opportunity to develop there especially if the league proves to be more professional than the level of the Pro League.




if the league proves to be more professional than the level of the Pro League.

You saying that in jest or what?

Offline asylumseeker

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2018, 02:12:50 PM »
Congratulations to Derek King on being named SH's assistant at Wanderers. Aside from the confidence and trust Hart has for King as his assistant,  inherently it is also a testament and example of loyalty and that can't be praised high enough. :applause: For King it is obviously a firm professional opportunity with enormous room for growth.

There are people in the football circle who have been unwilling to give King his kudos. Some critics have openly regarded his success at Joe Public as having little to do with him and much to do with his cast of players. His success at North East and with the Big Cannons, would make for interesting follow-up enquiry with those critics.

From others who viewed themselves as better candidates for the role of NT assistant coach, there was also background static concerning whether SH's assistants were artificial limbs, props and "yes men" rather than key contributors in generating sessions and rendering opinions and more emphatically than ever, Stephen Hart has answered that in retrospect. Although when he was NT coach, he made comments that reinforced his trust in his assistants, this appointment at HFX pronounces as much more than doing someone a "solid". It is clearly deserved.

I wish both men success.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 02:31:31 PM by asylumseeker »

Offline soccerman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2018, 06:47:19 PM »
Congratulations to Derek King on being named SH's assistant at Wanderers. Aside from the confidence and trust Hart has for King as his assistant,  inherently it is also a testament and example of loyalty and that can't be praised high enough. :applause: For King it is obviously a firm professional opportunity with enormous room for growth.

There are people in the football circle who have been unwilling to give King his kudos. Some critics have openly regarded his success at Joe Public as having little to do with him and much to do with his cast of players. His success at North East and with the Big Cannons, would make for interesting follow-up enquiry with those critics.

From others who viewed themselves as better candidates for the role of NT assistant coach, there was also background static concerning whether SH's assistants were artificial limbs, props and "yes men" rather than key contributors in generating sessions and rendering opinions and more emphatically than ever, Stephen Hart has answered that in retrospect. Although when he was NT coach, he made comments that reinforced his trust in his assistants, this appointment at HFX pronounces as much more than doing someone a "solid". It is clearly deserved.

I wish both men success.
:beermug:

Offline Cocorite

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 07:50:15 PM »
Congratulations to Derek King on being named SH's assistant at Wanderers. Aside from the confidence and trust Hart has for King as his assistant,  inherently it is also a testament and example of loyalty and that can't be praised high enough. :applause: For King it is obviously a firm professional opportunity with enormous room for growth.

There are people in the football circle who have been unwilling to give King his kudos. Some critics have openly regarded his success at Joe Public as having little to do with him and much to do with his cast of players. His success at North East and with the Big Cannons, would make for interesting follow-up enquiry with those critics.

From others who viewed themselves as better candidates for the role of NT assistant coach, there was also background static concerning whether SH's assistants were artificial limbs, props and "yes men" rather than key contributors in generating sessions and rendering opinions and more emphatically than ever, Stephen Hart has answered that in retrospect. Although when he was NT coach, he made comments that reinforced his trust in his assistants, this appointment at HFX pronounces as much more than doing someone a "solid". It is clearly deserved.

I wish both men success.

That's basically my feelings too. That the appointment of King augurs well for his track record (Or should that be the other way around?)
Glad too that Hart would look to T&T for talent and individuals deserving of an opportunity further themselves.
Looking forward to see which players get their beaks wet.

BTW how many teams in the inaugural league? It look like around 6 ah dem?
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Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2018, 08:07:46 PM »
Congratulations to Derek King on being named SH's assistant at Wanderers. Aside from the confidence and trust Hart has for King as his assistant,  inherently it is also a testament and example of loyalty and that can't be praised high enough. :applause: For King it is obviously a firm professional opportunity with enormous room for growth.

There are people in the football circle who have been unwilling to give King his kudos. Some critics have openly regarded his success at Joe Public as having little to do with him and much to do with his cast of players. His success at North East and with the Big Cannons, would make for interesting follow-up enquiry with those critics.

From others who viewed themselves as better candidates for the role of NT assistant coach, there was also background static concerning whether SH's assistants were artificial limbs, props and "yes men" rather than key contributors in generating sessions and rendering opinions and more emphatically than ever, Stephen Hart has answered that in retrospect. Although when he was NT coach, he made comments that reinforced his trust in his assistants, this appointment at HFX pronounces as much more than doing someone a "solid". It is clearly deserved.

I wish both men success.

That's basically my feelings too. That the appointment of King augurs well for his track record (Or should that be the other way around?)
Glad too that Hart would look to T&T for talent and individuals deserving of an opportunity further themselves.
Looking forward to see which players get their beaks wet.

BTW how many teams in the inaugural league? It look like around 6 ah dem?

Seven
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Offline Cocorite

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2018, 08:59:26 PM »

BTW how many teams in the inaugural league? It look like around 6 ah dem?

Seven

Thanks Tallman.

How does that bode for competitiveness and development of players? Not ideal I imagine! Need more games.

Hopefully there'll be expansion teams joining soon
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 09:17:28 PM by Tallman »
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Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018, 09:18:13 PM »

BTW how many teams in the inaugural league? It look like around 6 ah dem?

Seven

Thanks Tallman.

How does that bode for competitiveness and development of players? Not ideal I imagine! Need more games.

Hopefully there'll be expansion teams joining soon

They say they want to have 10 clubs by 2020, 14 clubs by 2024, and 16 clubs by 2026
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Offline Cocorite

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018, 10:00:47 PM »

BTW how many teams in the inaugural league? It look like around 6 ah dem?

Seven

Thanks Tallman.

How does that bode for competitiveness and development of players? Not ideal I imagine! Need more games.

Hopefully there'll be expansion teams joining soon

They say they want to have 10 clubs by 2020, 14 clubs by 2024, and 16 clubs by 2026

Great, thanks again! Whew!
Well they have the recent history of MLS to learn from as to how to develop their league.

I'm surprised I'm not hearing much buzz about this start-up league. I mean, the implications are potentially great for Caribbean and Trinidadian players and coaches. Not just because of Hart but just more opportunity, period!
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Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 12:19:30 PM »
Wanderers announce first ever international player signings as Trinidad and Tobago quartet
By Gareth Hampshire (hfxwanderersfc.canpl.ca)


HFX Wanderers FC have made their first overseas transfers by signing four high-profile players from Trinidad and Tobago.

Together, Jan-Michael Williams, Elton John, Akeem Garcia and Andre Rampersad are making history, as the club’s first international signings.

All four have won national championships with club teams in Trinidad and Tobago and three of them have played on the international stage for their home country, at both youth and senior levels.

‘Accomplished group’ signed to ‘help the team gel quickly’
Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart had the inside track on the players, having been in charge of Trinidad and Tobago’s national team, between 2013 and 2016.

“I’m delighted because we have a group of players who are familiar with each other and basically they play down the middle of the park, so I think that’s very important,” Hart said.

Building the spine of the team for the new Canadian Premier League has been the first concern for the Wanderers coach since taking the reins of Halifax’s new professional soccer club.

“They’ve played with and against each other. I see them competing for some of those key spots and I hope they help the team gel very quickly,” said Hart.

As well as expecting all four players to make an immediate impact for his team, Hart is counting on them to bring invaluable guidance to the younger Canadian players he’s planning to sign and develop.

“They’re accomplished players who bring lots of experience. They’re game savvy with the kind of dedication that comes from having the right attitude of being a professional,” Hart said.

‘Larger than life’ goalkeeper
Having amassed 81 full international caps for Trinidad and Tobago, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams arrives at the Wanderers as the most experienced of the new Trinbago bunch.

34-year-old Williams has played in the professional leagues of Belgium, Hungary, Honduras and most recently Guatemala.

The 6 ft. 3 in. keeper has also won a number of league titles at club level in his home country for W Connection and Central FC.

“I am extremely excited to play in the Canadian Premier League and to be a part of the inaugural season,” said Williams, who has also played in CONCACAF Gold Cups and World Cup qualifying games, through a distinguished international career.

The keeper, described as “larger than life” by Stephen Hart is looking forward to being reunited with the Wanderers coach, after playing for and captaining Trinidad and Tobago, when Hart was the Soca Warriors boss.

“I like how Stephen treats his players and what he demands, so for me that’s a big plus,” Williams said. “We can set our standard high trying to be the best team and win the competition because it’s a new league, so it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

It’s a mutual feeling with Hart pleased to have got a goalkeeper he already knows with so much personality and know-how.

Strength in midfield and attack
A former Central FC teammate of Williams, midfielder Elton John, joins the club as another veteran professional, having also won titles with North East Stars FC and San Juan Jabloteh FC.

John, who has also played in Belgium and represented Trinidad and Tobago at both youth and senior levels, is equally at home playing at centre-back, making him another valuable addition for Hart.

The Wanderers coach rates him highly as a player who is versatile and also has composure on the ball.

“I’m excited and happy for a new challenge,” 31-year-old John said. “I’m ready to make the fans happy with the Wanderers and hoping they accept me as a player.”

The two promising younger players on their way to Halifax from the Caribbean are joining the club in part through the club’s other Trinbago connection — Wanderers assistant coach Derek King.

Akeem Garcia and Andre Rampersad were both key members of King’s recent championship winning FC Santa Rosa team.

“His movement off the ball is very good,” King said of Garcia. “He can play number 9 or 10 as well as on the right or the left. He’ll be a good asset because he can play any of these positions.”

‘Ready to give everything’
Garcia scored ten goals in FC Santa Rosa’s run to the top, playing as an attacking wide player or striker.

The 22-year-old has turned heads since forcing his way into Trinidad and Tobago’s U17 squad at the age of 14, moving up to his country’s U20 team, before playing twice for the senior international team.

“It’s a great feeling to sign for my first club away, that’s been one of my dreams. I’m really happy and I’m ready to give everything,” Garcia said.

Being a part of a brand new Canadian Premier League was another thing that Garcia liked the sound of.

Andre Rampersad, who is 23, describes himself as a box-to-box midfielder who is thrilled to be joining the Wanderers after eight years with FC Santa Rosa, where he formed a good understanding with Garcia.

He’s another player whose potential stood out from an early age, being just 15 when he first joined the club.

“It’s overwhelming for me as a player getting this opportunity and I want to make a big impact and do my best for my club,” said Rampersad. “We’ve all got something to show and something to prove.”

Like with Garcia, King knows Rampersad as well as anyone, having coached him at Santa Rosa and describes him as something of an unsung hero on the pitch.

A player who does the simple things well and has the respect of his teammates.

“His work rate and energy levels are very high and he has good quality skill wise,” King said.

All four players are signing for the Wanderers pending medicals and the completion of an International Transfer Certificate in the transfer window opening in February 2019.

More signings on the way
While the Trinidad and Tobago players are feeling more comfortable about taking on a big move to Halifax together, all four are also keen to meet new players at the Wanderers and become a part of the community.

Stephen Hart believes it’s that kind of character that will give all four the chance of becoming popular players with the fans and in the dressing room.

“They all have to compete for positions and there are no guarantees but at least they will bring a certain working relationship that makes the process of adapting easier. They all understand how my assistant coach Derek King and myself work,” said Hart.

The four new international players join the Wanderers first signing, defender Zachary Sukunda, who was announced by the club last November.

Three prospects chosen in the University draft, Peter Schaale, André Bona and Christian Oxner will also have the chance to fight for contracts in preseason trials.

While pulling off the Trinidad and Tobago transfer coup, Stephen Hart continues to work tirelessly on completing moves for a number of other players, as he gets his squad ready for the Canadian Premier League kick-off in April.

The club expects to announce some of those other signings in the coming weeks.

The Wanderers want to congratulate Jan-Michael, Elton, Akeem and Andre and wish them every success in Halifax.
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline Sam

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 01:49:54 PM »
SH is a soldier....

Faster than a speeding pittbull
Stronger than a shot of ba-bash
Capable of storming any fete


Offline Deeks

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 03:32:00 PM »
Not familiar with Andre Rampersad. But good luck to him.

Offline soccerman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2019, 03:38:18 PM »
Congrats to these guys, all the best!

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2019, 08:14:43 PM »
Wish we coulda "like" a post
THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

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21 Questions – The Trinidad and Tobago Edition
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2019, 02:09:46 PM »
21 Questions – The Trinidad and Tobago Edition
By Danae Iatrou (hfxwanderersfc.canpl.ca)


Our roster is taking shape, so we’re starting a brand new campaign called 21 Questions with your HFX Wanderers. Our Social Media & Community Coordinator, Danae Iatrou, is getting in touch with our Wanderers each week to see who they really are.

We know these guys are fantastic athletes, but there’s a lot we don’t know. Danae will be asking all the questions, from our Wanderers biggest pet peeve, to their ideal vacation. Continue reading to learn a bit more about our most recent signings from Trinidad & Tobago.

Akeem Garcia:

Danae: What is the most exciting aspect that comes with the big move to Canada?

Akeem:  I’ve never been so I’m just excited for the experience. I heard it’s very cold, but it’s very hot here in Trinidad, so it will be a nice change. I know I will adapt to the cold no problem. Also, I’ve never seen snow, I’m very excited to see snow!

Danae: Which famous professional footballer would you compare your skills to?

Akeem: Eden Hazard – we play the same position and we are both versatile, I usually try to copy his game play. I like his style, he’s tricky and very strong, just like me.

Danae: What sport would you play if soccer/football didn’t exist?

Akeem: Cricket – its huge in Trinidad! It’s our number one sport tied with football.

Danae: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Akeem: Cats!  I mean, I don’t hate cats, I just don’t like them around me. They creep me out and you just can’t trust them!

Danae: Who is your biggest fan?

Akeem: My younger brother Aedan, he’s 3 years old. I wear number number 10 here in Trinidad and he wants number 10 printed on all his shirts so he can be like me.

Jan-Michael Williams:

Danae: So Jan, if you could have dinner with one player in the world who would it be?

Jan: Ronaldinho, for sure….Or maybe because I’m a goalkeeper Buffon because he is world class and I love Italian food.

Danae: What are you most excited for with your move to Canada?

Jan: Being with Steve again. I played 14 years on the national team, and I had the best time when Steve was in charge. I was nominated as CONCACAF goalkeeper of the year twice under Steve, I really excelled when he was in charge. I’m hopeful he can get me back to that level with the Wanderers.

Danae: What sport would you play if soccer/football didn’t exist?

Jan: If football didn’t exist, the world wouldn’t exist. Football is the greatest sport on the planet!

Danae: What advice can you give to young players trying to make it big?

Jan: Stay close to God and family, because they will be the ones who help you through the tough times. We never see the hardships but they are there. You need a good support system to get you through those bad days.

Danae: Our supporters group, the Privateers, are already calling you Big Bad Jan, do you approve?

Jan: I’ll take it, I mean, I don’t want to be classed as “bad,” but I will take it. Honestly, I’m the opposite of bad, I’m a good guy!

Danae: What would you be if you weren’t a footballer?

Jan: Do you want my professional answer, or my real answer?

Danae: Both!

Jan: For now, I can only give you my professional answer, maybe later I will tell you my REAL answer….But for now, I think I would make a great fireman!

Andre Rampersad:

Danae: Would you consider yourself shy and introverted or outgoing and more extroverted?

Andre: On the pitch, I’m outgoing and extroverted. Off the pitch, I’m shy with most people until I’m more comfortable.

Danae: Short corners, what do you think about those?

Andre: I don’t like them that much, mostly because I do well in the air. I can usually score off set pieces.

Danae: What was the highlight of your football/soccer career?

Andre: I’m young and this is my first professional contract, so of course, joining the HFX Wanderers FC!

Danae: What do you think you would be if you weren’t a footballer?

Andre: I would probably be in the army, serving my country.

Danae: What edge will you bring to the pitch?

Andre: I will bring energy, drive, and positivity. I play with a lot of passion and will work hard for the Wanderers.

Elton John:

Danae: What’s your favourite part about being a defender?

Elton:  As a centre back, the chance to be in the middle of everything and being vocal. I can play in the midfield as well, I love being in the centre of the action.

Danae: Our fans are going crazy over your name, do you even like Elton John’s music?

Elton:  I do! The Circle of Life is a good one, I also loved the Lion King as a child.

Danae: What was the best goal you’ve ever scored?

Elton: In high-school, I was 17 years old and the captain of the team. We were playing in the final match, it was 0-0 and time was running out. I took it on myself to lift the team and decide the match. It was the dying minutes of the match, I received the ball 35 yards out, put it on my right foot, and just hit it. It was a rocket and went top right corner of the net to win the match. The commentators started calling me the Rocketman and that’s when the nickname really caught on.

Danae: What do you think about your nickname, The Rocketman?

Elton: I welcome it, the fans have fun with it, and it makes them happy, so I’m happy!

Danae: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Elton: Bad taxi drivers, we have a lot of them here in Trinidad, I hope they are better in Canada!

There you have it, a little more information on our signings from Trinidad & Tobago. Stay tuned as our next edition of 21 Questions with the Wanderers will be coming soon!
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Offline Deeks

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2019, 03:55:43 PM »
Cool!

Offline Tiresais

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2019, 02:28:15 AM »
Really bodes well - I can't imagine those players struggling (not too familiar with Rampersad) in Canada unless the cold gets them!

Offline maxg

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2019, 01:58:02 PM »
Guarantee: the cold will get to them, however success always provides a smidgent of warmth. Will it be enuff? ???

Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2019, 05:31:57 PM »
Building from zero: HFX Wanderers coach Hart acknowledges different path to success in Season 1
hfxwanderersfc.canpl.ca


A common refrain heard from Canadian Premier League coaches is how excited they are to have a chance to shape a club in their own image. A brand-new league means brand-new teams and a blank slate.

In practice, though, most managers are starting with a base to build from.

FC Edmonton, of course, has its academy up and running. York9 has made full use of its staff’s familiarity with League1 Ontario. Cavalry FC, Pacific FC and Valour FC have places to pull from. Every club, it seems, has a link to a local high-level development program of some kind to lean on.

Every club, that is, except one: HFX Wanderers. In Halifax, they really are building from zero — leaving boss Stephen Hart with one of the more intriguing roster-building challenges of the CPL’s first offseason.

“It’s one of those things you know is going to happen when you’re coming in,” Hart told CanPL.ca of his club’s unique situation. “I think the whole objective will be to get the team on the field and then you can build through the community into that (local) relationship.

“But you knew that coming in. You have to beat the bush and find the players that you don’t really know that well. I’ve been out of the (Canadian) system for about three-plus years, so the young players I don’t know that well. It is the reality of the situation, so you deal with it.”

Hart’s recruitment thus far demonstrates how he has cast his net wide. Most notably, he tapped into his contacts as the former coach of Trinidad and Tobago to bring in a quartet of players from the twin Caribbean islands.

Wanderers’ Canadian content, meanwhile, has been sourced from near and far, with forward Vincent Lamy arriving from the Montreal Impact’s academy and defender Zachary Sukunda returning home after a spell in Australia.

“You tap into the resources that you know can give you a heads up on certain players, and then you do your homework, try to get full games of them and see how they react in the games,” Hart explained. “The only thing you really don’t know are their personalities off the field. “And then, of course, travelling and scouting has been the other way of doing it.”

Another wrinkle in Hart’s planning is geography. Attracting players out to Atlantic Canada has presented one or two hurdles to overcome — but also, Hart believes, one major advantage.

“In an inner city like Toronto, you have (such) ready access to a number of players that you really don’t have to look at things like housing,” Hart said.

“But that being said, I think the players that you are going after, they seem to sense that they would be well received (in Halifax) because it’s a small city. They love their football. And the player thinks that the recognition would be far greater than in a place like Toronto or Hamilton.

“It’s a bit different that way.”
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Offline soccerman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2019, 02:23:34 PM »
Apart from Jan, are the other 3 T&T players under 25?

Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2019, 03:41:59 PM »
Apart from Jan, are the other 3 T&T players under 25?

Garcia is 22 and Rampersad is 23.
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Offline soccerman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2019, 03:50:31 PM »
Apart from Jan, are the other 3 T&T players under 25?

Garcia is 22 and Rampersad is 23.

Thanks TM. That's a good age for those guys to be in the that environment.

Offline Tallman

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Re: Halifax Wanderers FC Thread
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 06:34:04 PM »
Stephen Hart looking for “right balance” as he builds HFX Wanderers squad from scratch
By Gary Griffiths (fromaways.com)


It’s a complicated task, this assembling a football team from scratch business.

A task akin to a man gingerly walking a tightrope whilst balancing a precious family heirloom upon his head. So many moving parts, so many pitfalls, such small room for error.

In Stephen Hart, Wanderers fans will hope to be in safe hands. Here is a manager who has coached multiple age groups in Canada’s youth system, has managed the national team in two periods from 2006 – 2007 and 2009 – 2012, and led the Trinidad & Tobago national team from 2013 – 2016. A little closer to home, Hart has also served as the Technical Director for Soccer Nova Scotia.

It’s this wealth of experience that Wanderers’ staff and players will turn to as they look for someone to assume the role of leader in these dizzy, early days of professional football in Halifax. On the surface at least, this appears to be a role that Stephen Hart has been subconsciously preparing for since arriving in Canada over 30 years ago.

So, as we inch closer to April 27 and the first round of fixtures, I was delighted to get the chance to ask the HFX Wanderers' coach some questions about how the club was progressing, what we could expect from the new signings and his hopes for the coming season.

In this wide-ranging interview, the boss was happy to provide some answers.

Firstly, thank you for taking the time do this, Stephen. I’d like to start by asking you how the preparations for the season are coming along. Do you feel happy with where you’re at in terms of player recruitment and ticket sales? 3,000+ season tickets sold sounds like an incredible number to me.

Very happy! The team behind the team has been working very hard to put all things in place and it is going very well with ticket sales and promotion of the team. Player recruitment has been very interesting, starting from scratch. So far, I am happy with the signings and the enthusiasm they have all shown to get started.

Pre-season training will begin in March. Will there be a lot of the old-school non-stop running in the opening weeks, or do you like your players to be working with the ball from the start?

Old school running is not preferable for me as pre-season is not a sprint, though some days it’s a part of training. We have to complete some testing first and that will determine who needs what individually. Then I will utilize a mix in the general physical preparation.

I’m really interested in the fact that every single club is starting from scratch in terms of player recruitment. How do you go about assembling a squad when you don’t have a clear idea of the level they’ll be coming up against?

Well not all are starting from scratch, but in general this is true. Correct, we do not have an idea of how each team will look. For me what is more important is how we look.

Managers in the opening few matches will have to be proactive instead of reactive, simply because it’s impossible to be tactically tailored to face a team which has never played a competitive game before. How many rounds of matches do you anticipate it taking before you have a clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the other teams in the league?

Difficult to say really! Some teams may come together smoothly, others will take time to get the relationships right. Most coaches will be very busy tweeking their own squads and learning about their players. The important thing within my own team, is creating the right balance.

Do you think your player recruitment methods have to be a lot different to the other managers in the CanPL, simply because population-wise, the Nova Scotia talent pool is a lot smaller?

Yes! Some teams have had relationships with an academy, League 1, PDL, or more recently national youth teams. This gives them an edge, or should I say a jump start.

I know the Nova Scotia talent pool quite well, however, though I have to be honest and question the level of competition within teams for starting positions and the league in general.

A lot of the players you’ve added to the squad so far have played with at least one other teammate in the past. Was this done consciously as a way of achieving on-field chemistry as quickly as possible?

This was done deliberately. Relationships on and off the field always help players settle better.

I thought the signing of the four Trinidadians was very interesting. Do you think there’s a bit of an untapped market in the Caribbean?

Originally, I had several players in mind from the Caribbean and a variety from Trinidad & Tobago, but I could not sign everyone.

If you look at Caribbean football nations, with respect to population and the number of players that play professionally, it is a bit eye opening. In 2006 when Trinidad and Tobago went to the World Cup, they had 24+ players applying their trade in the UK alone. It is not the same 12 years, later, however the potential is still there.

The majority of signings so far have been defensive players. Was it your intention to build from the back and work your way forward, or is it just a case of those players being the first ones you could negotiate deals with and announce?

Not particularly, I wanted to secure Canadian players in certain positions first and then build around them. It's just more a matter of how they are being announced.

Were you aware of Akeem Garcia and Andre Rampersad prior to hiring Derek King, or were they players he introduced you to?

Akeem I know very well. I first saw him in 2013 at the U17 CONCACAF tournament in Panama, and worked with him with the Trinidad & Tobago U20 squad.

In conversation with Derek about his own team FC Santa Rosa, he mentioned a young player that was doing very well for him, so I began keeping tabs on him. Eventually, I saw him play a couple of games live and he did very well.

Elliot Simmons & Scott Firth are both good passers who like to keep the ball and control the tempo of the game. Is retaining possession and playing with the ball important to you as a coach?

Controlling the tempo of the game is very important because playing without the ball is very difficult in terms of influencing play, not to mention never enjoyable. Almost all the players I have signed are comfortable in possession. Now, during a game when they’re under stress, who knows how they will react. However, I will always encourage players to contribute to the possession of the ball.

With regards to the full-backs you’ve signed so far, Zachary Sukunda and Ndzemdzela Langwa, both seem like very attacking players. Is that a position you see contributing more to the attack than the defence?

Not at all! It is about creating a balance. When we do not have the ball, the objective of the entire team is to win it back, be it individually or collectively. Full-backs are no different, they should know how to defend first, then if they have the capacity to attack we work them into it.

I think there’s a really nice squad balance at the moment between leaders (Williams, John, Hocine) and youngsters (Lamy, Firth, Simmons etc). How important do you think it will be for the younger players to have these established professionals to learn from?

The learning curve is great. They have to learn not only aspects of professionalism off the field, but also what type of character it takes to progress in a highly competitive environment. This is the toughest part, especially with young talented players today. Most have never had to compete for a starting position day in day out.

Among the Canadian players signed by yourself and the other clubs, do you think there are many with a realistic chance of making the national team squad over the next few years? 2026 must be a target for a lot of them.

That is not a question I can answer. However, there have been a few signings that I have always felt should have been given the opportunity. Canada’s soccer landscape has changed tremendously, not to mention the impact the MLS & USL (in Canada & USA) has had on providing opportunities for Canadian players.

However, those leagues do not belong to Canada, and not enough Canadian players were being exposed. Canada’s depth chart is presently quite impressive, so let us be fair. Coach Herdman and his staff are still finding their feet. However, this is exactly what the CPL is designed to achieve, the league will contribute to the depth chart, by providing a professional opportunity and pathway for young Canadian players.

And finally, tongue in cheek as this question may be, one of my favourite players growing up was Dwight Yorke. He was playing for Aston Villa’s first team while I was playing with their U11 youth team, and he was a player we all tried to imitate in training every week. As a player you've worked with before, is there any chance you could lure him to Halifax? I’m sure, even at 47, he could still come off the bench and do a job. Or more realistically, in a coaching capacity.

Good for you, imitation is the best form of flattery! Dwight remains in incredible shape. I know him quite well, from age 12 and even back then, you could see his passion and desire to be one of the best.  I have not spoken to him about coaching. From the outside looking in, and knowing Dwight’s competitive tenacity, I believe his coaching ambition is focused on coaching in the UK. You never know though!

Thanks for your time, Stephen.
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.