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Canadian Gold Cup Champion Richard Hastings Analyzes the Growth of Soccer in Canada

Richard Hastings | Franchise Owner | The Other Foot Soccer School, Canada

National success will ultimately be a reflection of the frameworks set below so by being open to selecting the very best talent regardless of their background, ability to pay fees, etc, I believe will allow for more long-term National success.

Richard Hastings

Franchise Owner

The Other Foot Soccer School, Canada

× The interview with Richard Hastings was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

You were a member of the Canada team that won the Gold Cup in 2000, the only major tournament won by the national team and where you were named rookie of the tournament. What impact did that tournament win have on Canadian soccer in that time, and what has been the result of its legacy?

Yes, it was a monumental achievement for Canadian soccer at that time especially with Mexico ranked so high in the FIFA rankings and naturally favourites to win the tournament alongside the United States.

At the time it had a massive initial impact on soccer in Canada, raising awareness of the national team as well as the game of soccer itself.

I do believe it kickstarted what has been a healthy and steady increase of players taking up the sport over the years and has probably been the greatest long-term result of its legacy.

How have you seen soccer in Canada develop over the last two decades, and since the end of your playing days?

As I eluded to in the previous question, I believe there has been a year on year increase in registrations which is a huge positive for the grassroot game, on the National level however I feel it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster of success in terms of competing and progressing. I do not feel there is a steady graph of development and improvement over the last two decades but more sporadic times where individual players and/or teams have surfaced and had relative success.

Since I retired, I along with many my age, feel the National team went through a bit of a lull and were looking to regroup. But in the last 3-4 years with the emergence of young talent mixed with some older experienced heads, things look like they’re heading in a positive direction.

What are the main challenges you believe are associated with growing and developing the level of play in Canada to put them with the likes of other successful nations on the international stage?

I believe the main challenges have always been for Canada as a country to develop and agree on a development framework while collectively follows it. In the past, Provinces perhaps held more power than the National Association which in relation to the rest of the world is unheard of.

However, I believe the work that Jason DeVos is now doing in introducing Club Licensing across the country is a huge step in the right direction, not only to have everyone following a development framework but also raising the required standard of coaching. Players can only develop with better coaching and you can now see this is changing for the good so there are positive foundations being built going forward.

The other challenge in Canada, which you don’t really have outside North America, is the cost to play the game. There are potentially many talented youngsters who are basically priced out of playing a sport they are naturally very good at. Outside North America these players would typically be scouted, developed and their talent maximised.

It’s a challenge to find the right balance as I understand there are costs associated with running clubs/academies but at the same time talent can’t be overlooked due to cost. National success will ultimately be a reflection of the frameworks set below so by being open to selecting the very best talent regardless of their background, ability to pay fees, etc, I believe will allow for more long-term National success.

You created The Other Foot Soccer School in Canada. What has been the major goal/outcome you look to achieve with that academy and how has it progressed since inception?

Yes, I am the Franchise owner of The Other Foot Soccer School for Canada, a unique and hugely beneficial coaching program that concentrates on developing a player’s weaker or ‘OTHER’ foot allowing them to develop into a much more versatile and competent player.

Having seen the benefits to players, including my own son, in the program over in Scotland I really felt it was something of huge worth to bring to Canada in order to help develop players for generations to come.

My goal/legacy is to give something of value back to Canada and I am excited to get this program up and running in many Clubs and Academies all across Canada so that it gives players the very best opportunity to maximise their talent.

For those interested in knowing more I can be contacted on Instagram – @theotherfootcanada

What is your favourite memory from when you played for the Canadian national team?

Winning the Gold Cup obviously has to at the top alongside the special memory of scoring the Golden Goal against Mexico, the magnitude of that goal just filled me with so many euphoric emotions.

I have had very many fond and proud moments playing for Canada and am thankful for the opportunity.

What possibilities do you see for the future of soccer in Canada with the establishment of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) and emerging stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David?

I see the CPL as being a huge step for the future of Canadian soccer and can already see the excitement and buzz it has around it. This gives Canadian children something to aspire to, something real and achievable so it can only be good for the game going forward.

We are already seeing players getting National call-ups and moving to bigger clubs. I believe the league will only get bigger with more and more talented players coming through. It also gives the opportunity for Canadian coaches to further progress their careers and I know that the league is certainly of interest to myself if the opportunity to manage a club came around.

With emerging stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, Canada truly has icons and role models for years to come that will undoubtedly help grow the game and give young children someone to aspire to be. On the National level, these young and talented players really have an opportunity to put Canada on the map and so we should be very excited for the future.

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was a pleasure to speak with former Canadian National soccer player Richard Hastings, who has a brilliant mind when it comes to developing the game. Currently the owner of The Other Foot Soccer School franchise, he has great insight related to growing the game of soccer in Canada. The legacy of the Gold Cup winning team he was a part of in 2000 has sparked a second wave of soccer fever in Canada. With the advent of the Canadian Premier League in 2019 along with young international Canadian stars like Alphonso Davies and Johnathan David, Hastings believes the game only goes up from here. 

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