On November 20th the Battalion held a major meeting to discuss as supporters how best to take the group forward and support soccer in Hamilton. Notes from the meeting can be found below.
Kevin Matchett – Ticats
Nick Bontis – CSA Board Member
Paul Beirne – Canadian Premier League Hire
John McGrane – Ex-Canadian National Team Player & only Hamiltonian in Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame
John Gibson – President of the Hamilton and District Soccer Association
Introductory Words: After introductory words by James, Nick Bontis spoke to CSA priorities. The three main priorities of his role at the CSA are launching the Canadian Premier League, finding a new CanMNT head coach and bidding for the 2026 World Cup. There will be a CSA meeting the first week of December to ratify the league however an announcement should not be expected before then. The CanPL project is runnning on schedule for a 2018 launch.
Team Name: A engaging debate was head between names for the team, mainly over “Steelers” and “United”. While there was no agreement was reached among supporters or management, it was indicated the team name will likely be put to a vote within the community at a later date. Prior to that, a shortlist of names can be sent by the Battalion for consideration in the vote.
Supporters Group Scope and Incorporation: The group decided to hold off incorporating until more capital is raised. It was also agreed upon that the scope of our group would be narrow, mainly focusing on supporting and building supporters culture in Hamilton and in Canada. This includes being inclusive to everyone and helping to build other supporters culture where needed.
HDSA Associate Member: The group was invited by John Gibson to become an Associate member of the district. This would connect us with the 12 clubs and 26,000 registered players while legitimizing the group. The group agreed to move forward and James is filing the paperwork and fee to be a member in time for the 2017 registration deadline.
Location within the Stadium: One of the more hotly debated topics, those in the room decided where it would be best, and what they would like to see at THF. Options of being in built in stands (similar to Ottawa Fury Supporters), behind the net in temporary stands, behind the net in safe standing areas, or on the Coors Light Patio. No verdict was reached, this will be discussed further with the Ticats pending what is available for them to invest in seating structures.
Managing the Current Budget and Inventory: With a modest budget the group agreed no big expenses should be paid for, only more scarves and shirts leading into launch should be ordered with the goal of raising more capital. Currently in our inventory we have 45 flags and a drum. The drum was paid for by 10 volunteers, James will be looking into getting skins on the drum in time for announcement. Other major costs such as funding a Ontario Championship Trophy for all Ontario CanPL teams to play for would be crowd funded online.
League Announcement: Everyone in the room agreed that the supporters should be included in the league or team announcement (plans pending). In order for a successful launch on the Battalion end, more scarves will be ordered, shirts will be made by the Voyageurs, the drum will be ready, flags will be prepared and a banner will be painted. The Battalion would be willing to assist with other supporters in prepping for announcement.
Word Association: While some soccer clubs have words associated with their brand (Rangers – Ready, West Ham – Prepared) the question was asked which word does everyone most associate with Hamilton soccer? It was unanimous across the room that the word was “Ambitious”.
Closing Thoughts: The meeting concluded after 90 minutes (no halftime needed) with very good discussions on the important issues heading into league launch. It was exciting to not only plan for what will be one of the biggest projects in CSA history but to build those relationships with management early. A big thank you goes to every individual in attendance and for having their voice heard. As discussed, the supporters are the life blood of the club and grow into something far larger than it is now. No meeting is currently scheduled but expect one when we hear a date for the CanPL Launch. Until then, stay tuned to social media for viewing parties and other information.