Hamil­ton climbs soc­cer lad­der

NICK BONTIS, CANADA SOC­CER VP

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MILTON

It’s been a pretty good month for Hamil­ton in the Cana­dian soc­cer pyra­mid.

The Cana­dian Pre­mier League, in large part born and bred in this city through Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and the Tiger-Cats or­ga­ni­za­tion, re­ceived unan­i­mous ap­proval at the Canada Soc­cer an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Whistler, B.C.

And, at the same AGM, Nick Bontis was ap­pointed Canada Soc­cer vice-pres­i­dent, a vol­un­teer po­si­tion of ex­treme im­por­tance, as he’s now a del­e­gate to FIFA (Fed­er­a­tion In­ter­na­tionale de Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion) where Canada’s in­flu­ence has been climb­ing.

“I’m a very proud Hamil­to­nian,” says the chair of strate­gic man­age­ment at Mc­Mas­ter’s DeG­roote School of Busi­ness.

“I’m in an ad­van­ta­geous sit­u­a­tion be­ing in Hamil­ton and can act as a con­nec­tion be­tween Scott Mitchell’s group and Canada Soc­cer. I’ve been work­ing with them a long time.”

Bontis fell in love with the beau­ti­ful game as a young­ster in Scar­bor­ough, played for a num­ber of top On­tario teams, was a five-time On­tario Cup win­ner, rep­re­sented Canada in 1986 World Youth Cup, was an OUA all-star at Western, and played for Lon­don City in the old Cana­dian Soc­cer League.

He’s also coached a num­ber of teams.

“It’s a very com­mon story in this coun­try,” says the 47-year-old, who is of Greek her­itage. “Im­mi­grant par­ents bring that soc­cer pas­sion here, and the kids grow up with it.”

Bontis says there have been two enor­mously im­pact­ful and un­prece­dented events in Cana­dian soc­cer this month: the pub­lic un­veil­ing of the CPL; and the ap­proval at FIFA’s an­nual congress in Bahrain last week for a 2026 World Cup bid from Canada, the U.S. and Mex­ico.

Bontis, en­ter­ing his third term on Canada Soc­cer’s board, was in Bahrain along with Steve Reed, the newly-elected pres­i­dent of the na­tional gov­ern­ing body for soc­cer.

Do­mes­ti­cally, one of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is chair of strat­egy. He de­signed the strate­gic plan for 201418, which in­cluded a World Cup bid and a na­tional pre­mier league. He’ll now start work on the next five-year plan. “One of the big strate­gies will be Canada Con­nect,” he says, “It’s a na­tional data­base project so we can get a good han­dle on our 850,000 reg­is­tered play­ers.”

That’s a huge num­ber, but it’s likely to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally if Canada, U.S. and Mex­ico land the 2026 World Cup.

“His­tory teaches us — most no­tably with the United States in 1994 — that the World Cup acts as a sig­nif­i­cant cat­a­lyst for that coun­try’s soc­cer,” Bontis says.

CANADA SOC­CER PHOTO

Hamil­ton’s Nick Bontis was ap­pointed vice-pres­i­dent of Canada Soc­cer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.