Soccer league nabs John Gibson
The Canadian Premier League continues to send signals that it is moving toward a 2018 launch date.
The latest beacon is the hiring of another significant employee for the nascent professional soccer league’s head office.
Hamilton’s John Gibson, who has been working behind the scenes advising the league, has been appointed director of interprovincial affairs for the CPL.
Soccer-drenched Gibson had been president of the Hamilton and District Soccer Association but recently left that post. Vice-president Tom Walsh has taken over as interim president.
“I’m excited to be part of the CPL in the infancy of it,” Gibson told The Spectator. “I think it’s important linking with the provincial soccer bodies. They are the developers of our young players.”
For years, Gibson — like his close friend and former business partner John McGrane — has been a vocal proponent of a Tier I Canadian professional league.
“If we want to improve our men’s national team we have to have a clear pathway for our kids to play,” Gibson said.
The Canadian Soccer Association — now called Canada Soccer — is the founding partner of the CPL, with an end game of vastly improving on Canada’s dismal performances on the international men’s scene and having an integrated system of player development from beginner leagues right through professional play.
Among other duties, Gibson will help facilitate that co-ordination, liaising with provincial soccer bodies.
“There’s a lot of politics involved in soccer,” he said. “And you can really get caught up in it. The experience I have working within that structure will help.”
Gibson, who’s been playing, coaching and administering soccer for 55 years, moved to Canada from Scotland with his family when he was only a year old and
grew up on the central mountain. He played minor with Mount Hamilton soccer but, by 16, was a senior player for the British Imperial soccer club. He then played for Dundas United, and later coached the club. He was also president of Dundas Youth Soccer, representing the association at the H&DSA before joining the district executive as a director nearly six years ago.
In 1990, Gibson accompanied McGrane to the Kitchener Spirit, an expansion team in the old Canadian Soccer League, as assistant coach and general manager, and moved with him to the Hamilton Steelers the following year.
He and McGrane owned Soccer World from 1990 to 2010, and also owned indoor facilities in Kingston, London, Dartmouth and Niagara Falls.
He also helped start the Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame and is in the Mohawk College Sports Hall of Fame for the nine years he coached its soccer team.
“John Gibson has done a phenomenal job in Hamilton with minor soccer and has turned the H&DSA into a great organization, which is certainly one of the models for amateur soccer in Canada,” says Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell who, with Ticats owner Bob Young, has been the major private-sector driver of the CPL.
“John’s got a plethora of experience as a player, coach and organizer. We enjoyed the opportunity to work together the past few years and we need to bring in great people enthusiastic about Canadian soccer. And obviously, a big component of that is amateur soccer.
“What we’re hoping to do is to help answer some of the questions for the CSA in terms of bridging that gap between getting kids to play amateur soccer and giving them the aspirational dream to play pro soccer.
“John is a great fit to work with the CPL and foster the relationships with the CSA and with the provincial soccer associations.”
Mitchell also said of a widelyexpected 2018 debut for the CPL: “That’s the focus.”