Wolves soccer returns to Roma
St. Catharines Club Roma rang in 2021 with a new expansion franchise in the League1 Ontario Men’s Premier Division.
Roma’s Head of Operations for League1 Carmine Provenzano had submitted an application for Roma to join the league for the 2021 season and finally got the thumbs up on New Year’s Eve of last year.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Provenzano said. “It took quite a long time to put it together, but it was worth it.”
Club Roma has been without a semi-pro team since the Wolves dissolved following the 2014 season. The Wolves played in the Canadian Soccer League, which is a non-sanctioned circuit not affiliated with Canada Soccer.
“When we disbanded from CSL in 2014, League1 called and asked about a team and for one reason or another we didn’t make that go,” Provenzano said. “I was sitting on the soccer board at the time and we didn’t think we could make it work and I guess it’s bugged me ever since.
“This has been six years in the making.”
League1 Ontario is the province’s pro-am, standards-based, senior league. The league began in 2014 with a 10-team men’s division, which has now grown to 20 teams in the men’s division and includes a separate 14-team women’s division. League1 serves as a stepping stone between the high-performance youth level and elite amateur and professional levels of the game.
The league is owned and managed by Canadian Soccer Business (CSB) and sanctioned by FIFA through the domestic bodies of Canada Soccer and Ontario Soccer.
Provenzano said he feels Niagara is in need of such a stepping stone for up and coming players.
“All our players have to leave the region to play at a higher level,” he said. “I started to think it would be great to have a League1 team back here.”
Provenzano said the team will give local players first shot at cracking the roster.
“We feel we need to build from the region out,” he said. “The region has to meet the talent for us to select the players. If our region has, say, 10 players, then we will take the 10 and build out and go out of region. We have some potential to bring in some internationals as well.”
The team will be coached by Frederico Turriziani of Italy.
“He was in region for a time helping out with academy and clubs,” Provenzano said. “He has a wealth of knowledge at the youth and under 23 level.”
Davide Massafra, the technical director at Roma, will act as assistant coach.
Both have their UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) licences, which Provenzano said was an advantage in the application process.
The coaches have already been identifying local talent before the tryouts, which will be held as soon as possible considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Players can register on line and the early interest has been impressive with between 40 and 50 players registering.
“It has been well received so far,” Provenzano said.
League1 Ontario is classified as semi-pro, but Provenzano indicated not all teams are required to pay players.
“We don’t have to declare ourselves as semi-professional. We can say we’re an amateur team and not pay anybody player-wise,” he said. “I think that’s the way we’re going to start just to get our feet wet in the budget and league.”
As far as wins and losses, Provenzano said the first mandate is to develop players.
“Realistically speaking, we’re trying to develop the players in our minds to get to the next level. If that means wins come with it, fine. But if we finish middle of the pack and we send two or three kids up to the pro level or NCAA or where ever it may be, that in conjunction with our coaches, will be our goal.”
Guelph United (Guelph), Scrosoppi FC (Milton) and Waterloo United (Waterloo) will also join the league this season.
Other teams in the league are: Alliance United, Darby FC, FC London, Hamilton United S.C., Masters FA Saints, North Mississauga SC, North Toronto SC, Oakville Blue Devils, Pickering FC, Pro Stars FC, Sigma FC, Toronto Skillz, Unionville-Milliken SC, Vaughan SC, Windsor TFC and Woodbridge SC.
For sponsorship opportunities, contact Steve Kohut at Stephen@clubroma.ca.
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