Hamilton climbs soccer ladder
NICK BONTIS, CANADA SOCCER VP
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.
Hamilton’s Nick Bontis was appointed vice-president of Canada Soccer.